Biographies | Rishi
To know more about him read Vishnu Puraan, 3/2
See also Yaagyavalkya in Upanishad; Taittireeya
Yaagyavalkya Rishi was a great Rishi. He was the son of Devaraat, and Devaraat was the adopted son of Vishwaamitra Jee.
Thus Yaagyavalkya Jee was the grandson of Vishwaamitra Jee. Some sources say that he was the son of the sister of Vaishampaayan Jee and at the same time his disciple too. Thus he was the disciple of his Maamaa. He was born on Kaarttik Shukla 12 - Yogeeshwar Dwaadashee.
But at the same place Birth of Vishwaamitra, his name is written there as his son. In the end of that it is also written that when Vishwaamitra Jee sent his 100 sons to fight with Vashishth Jee, Vashishth Jee burnt all of them. This shows that That Yaagyavalkya was also died. So it seems more logical that this Yaagyavalkya was the son of Devaraat and grandson of Viashwaamitra Jee. As his 100 sones were already burnt by Vashishth Jee, his other children's names are not found anywhere. His three children's names are found - (1) one son from Raivya from his wife Hemaavatee; another son's name is found of Devaraat whom he adopted; (3) and the third son's name is found of Ashtak who was his real son from Maadhavee, Yayaati's sister - see MBH-Stories-Gaalav. he had a daughter from menakaa Apsaraa also who was born during his Tapasyaa period.
It is possible that Vishwaamitra Jee's one of the several wives was Vaishampaayan Jee's sister.
He had two wives - Kaatyaayinee and Maitreyee. Kaatyaayanee was the sister of Kaatyaayan who, according to Aangiras, was a famous economist in Dasharath's (Raam's father) kingdom while Vaalmeeki Raamaayan, 1/2/7 says that he was one of the 9 Rishi in his kingdom. Kaatyaayanee was an ordinary housewife, while Maitreyee was well versed in the Hindu scriptures and was a "Brahm-vaadinee". According to a legend, Maitreyee really did not want to marry Yaagyavalkya, but she wanted to live with him as his disciple and a spiritual companion to do Saadhanaa or spiritual development. She went to Yaagyavalkya's wife, Kaatyaayanee and expressed her desire to live with her husband, and with Kaatyaayanee's consent, she became his companion. When Yaagyavalkya Jee wished to divide his property between the two wives before starting for the fourth Aashram of his life, Maitreyee asked whether she could become immortal through that wealth. Yaagyavalkya Jee replied that there was no hope of immortality through the wealth and that she would only become one among the many who were well-to-do on earth.
On hearing this, Maitreyee requested Yaagyavalkya to teach her what he considered as the best. Then Yaagyavalkya elaborately described to her the sole greatness of the Absolute Self, the nature of Its existence, the way of attaining infinite knowledge and immortality, etc. This immortal conversation between Yaagyavalkya and Maitreyee is recorded in the Brihadaaranyak Upanishad. The central theme of the discourse is this: "All things are dear, not for their sake, but for the sake of the Self. This Self alone exists everywhere. It cannot be understood or known, for It alone is the Understander and the Knower. Its nature cannot be said to be positively as such. It is realized through endless denials as ‘not this, not this’. The Self is self-luminous, indestructible, unthinkable".
The other wife Kaatyaayanee, the daughter of Bharadhwaaj Muni, was of common intelligence, and Yaagyavalkya had three sons from her - Chandrakaant, Mahamedhaa and Vijaya.
Yaagyavalkya and Vaajasaneyee Sanhitaa
Once some Rishi jointly decided to have regular meetings and whoever would not attend those meetings will be attached to Brahm Hatyaa sin. Only one Rishi did not attend it and he was Vaishampaayan Jee. In madness of this Vaishampaayan Jee killed his nephew (sister's son) and asked his disciples to do something which could free him from this sin.
At this Yaagyavalkya Jee said to him - "There is no need to trouble all of them for this, they are not so powerful, I alone will do this Vrat." At this Vaishampaayan Jee got angry with Yaagyavalkya Jee that he had insulted other Braahman and asked him to leave everything whatever he had learnt from him. Yaagyavalkya immediately vomited out all the Yajur Ved's Mantra and departed from there. Seeing the Ved Mantra lying on the ground, many other Rishi assumed the form of partridges (Teetar) and ate them up. When they taught these Ved Mantra to their disciples, this branch was called Taittireeya (descended from Teetar or partridges) branch of Yajur Ved.
Yaagyavalkya was now in search of better knowledge, so he did Tap for Soorya Dev and Soorya Dev pleased from his Tap appeared before him in the form of a horse (Vaaji) and asked Yaagyavalkya to ask for any Var. Yaagyavalkya said - "Prabhu, If you are pleased with me, teach me those Ved Mantra which are not known to anybody." So Soorya Dev imparted him Yajur Ved Mantra which were unknown to anyone else, even to Yaagyavalkya's Guru Vaishampaayan Jee. Because it was evolved in great rapidity from Soorya in the form of a horse through his manes that Yaagyavalkya divided this Vaajasaneya Yajur Ved again into 15 branches, each branch comprising hundreds of Yajus Mantra which came to be known as Vaajsaneya (descended from a horse's mane) branch of the Yajur Ved. [see Next Page for its detailed explanation] Kanva, Madhyaandin and others learnt those branches.
Vishwaamitra Jee is believed to be the author of most of the Mandal 3 of Rig Ved, including Gaayatree Mantra. According to Puraan, only 24 Rishi understood the meaning of the Gaayatree Mantra fully and thus wielded the whole power of it - sage Vishwaamitra was the first and sage Yaagyavalkya was the last.
Yaagyavalkya was the one who told Raam Kathaa, in Tulasee Daas Jee written Raam Charit Maanas, to Bharadwaaj Muni and others after they had taken bath in Gangaa for the whole Maagh month. He has written Brihadaaranyak Upanishad also. In Brihadaaranyak Upanishad Yaagyavalkya and Gaargee dialog is very famous. Read also Yaagyavalkya-3
Another Version of the Above-mentioned Story About Yaagyavalkya
Yaagyavalkya Rishi was the disciple of Maharshi Jaimini. Once students were sitting, and Maharshi Jaimini was teaching them that a messenger came from the King's court. In those days it was customary for the King to start his days work after having blessings of Braahman, so Maharshi Jaimini sent Yaagyavalkya for this purpose. The young Yaagyavalkya went to the King's court and sat down. The King was still taking bath, so he had to wait. Yaagyavalkya said to the messenger curtly - "The King should have called me when he was ready. Now I am missing my lessons." The messenger told this to the King. The King told the messenger to ask for "Akshataai" and asked the Braahman to leave. So Yaagyavalkya left the "Akshataai" in the nearby Peepal tree trunk and left the place for his Gurukul. The tree was cut at the trump level.
When the King came out after taking bath, he was very surprised to see the fully grown up Peepal tree in the place of a stump. The King asked the messenger as what happened. The messenger told him everything. The King understood the power of Rishi and ran towards the Gurukul. He told everything to Maharshi Jaimini; but Guru wanted to admonish the student for his impatience. So he called Yaagyavalkya and asked him that why he could not wait for the King? And as a punishment he asked him to spit whatever he had learnt from him. The student obeyed the Guru. He assumed the form of an ostrich (called Taittireeya) and spat and emitted three chunks of black color. This was called Krishn Yajur Ved. The famous Tattireeya Sanhitaa of the Krishn Yajur Ved was called because of this.
After that he did penance for Soorya Dev and received Shukla Yajur Ved from him.
Yaagyavalkya and His Works
At the sacrifice of Janak, there was an exchange of words between Yaagyavalkya and Vaishampayan too. But on hearing that Yaagyavalkya had btained a fresh Ved from the Sun God, Vaishampaayan was much pleased and he requested Yaagyavalkya to teach that Ved to his own disciples also. Yaagyavalkya consented and taught his Ved to the disciples of Vaishampaayan Jee too. In the end, Yaagyavalkya Jee took Vidwat Sanyaas (renunciation after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahm) and retired to the forest. Yaagyavalkya was one of the greatest sages ever known. We find him arguing with and overcoming even his teacher Uddaalak in the court of Raajaa Janak. His precepts as contained in the Upanishad stand foremost as the crest-jewel of the highest teachings on Brahm Vidyaa.
In the End
In the end, Yaagyavalkya took Vidwat Sanyaas (renunciation after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahm) and retired to the forest. This was after delivering the Gyaan to Maitreyee.
Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 03/07/14