“Of what use is the wealth that you are offering to me, when you say wealth cannot give me immortality? Please share with me instead some of your wisdom!” says Maitreyi, the first wife of sage Yajnavalkya, when the husband decides to walk away from his home and all his possessions. He decides to distribute his property between Maitreyi and Katyayani, his two wives. The younger lady accepts his decision but the older one questions it.

“Our real self – Atman / Self – is truly the most lovable one. At different times, we love different objects and persons. We actually love the Self only, as all of them contribute to the pleasure of the self. Since love of the self is hidden behind all the love we experience in life, it is wiser to realize the truth of the self. That is life’s goal.”

Yajnavalkya delivers a scintillating discourse to his wife, now the student. He reveals to her the secret teaching that the individual self, imagined to be different, actually merges with the universal, pure intelligence upon the dawn of right seeing. Like a salt doll that loses its individuality upon falling into water and dissolving there, we lose our identification with the limited personality made of the body and mind.

Maitreyi, being rich with purity of heart and endowed with intense dispassion, grasps all the suggestions made by Yajnavalkya, asks him questions here and there, and finally gains total clarity over the matter. She too rises in her spiritual understanding to the heights of her celebrity husband.

[Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – Chapter 2, Section 4 – presents the fascinating dialogue between the sage and his mature wife.]