Maitrayaniya Upanishad

A page of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad manuscript found in Pune, Maharashtra (Sanskrit, Devanagari)

The Maitrayaniya Upanishad (Sanskrit: मैत्रायणीय उपनिषद्, Maitrāyaṇīya Upaniṣad) is an ancient Sanskrit text that is embedded inside the Yajurveda.[1][2] It is also known as the Maitri Upanishad (Sanskrit: मैत्री उपनिषद्, Maitrī Upaniṣad), and is listed as number 24 in the Muktika canon of 108 Upanishads.[3]

The Maitrayaniya Upanishad is associated with the Maitrayanas school of the Yajurveda.[2] It is a part of the "black" Yajurveda, with the term "black" implying "the un-arranged, motley collection" of content in Yajurveda, in contrast to the "white" (well arranged) Yajurveda where Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Isha Upanishad are embedded.[4] The chronology of Maitrayaniya Upanishad is contested, but generally accepted to be a late period Upanishadic composition.[5]

The Maitrayaniya Upanishad consists of seven Prapathakas (lessons). The first Prapathaka is introductory, the next three are structured in a question-answer style and discuss metaphysical questions relating to Atman (Self, Soul), while the fifth to seventh Prapathaka are supplements.[2] However, several manuscripts discovered in different parts of India contain lesser number of Prapathakas, with a Telugu language version showing just four, and another Burnell version showing just one section.[6] The content and structure of the Upanishad is also different in various manuscript recensions, suggesting that the Upanishad was extensively interpolated and expanded over a period of time. The common kernel of the Upanishad across different recensions, states Max Muller, is a reverence for soul, that can be summarized in a few words as, "(Man) is the Self – the immortal, the fearless, the Brahman".[6]

The Maitri Upanishad is an important ancient text notable, in its expanded version, for its references to theories also found in Buddhism, elements of the Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hinduism, as well as the Ashrama system.[7] The text is also notable for its practice of Anyatrapyuktam (or Ityevam Hyaha), that is being one of the earliest known Sanskrit texts that embedded quotes with credits and frequent citations to more ancient Sanskrit texts.[8]


The etymological root of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad are unclear. This has historically led to a variety of names and spellings for this Upanishad.[6]

Maitra (Sanskrit: मैत्र) and Maitri (मैत्री) are related words which literally mean "kindly, benevolent, good will, amity, friend of all creatures".[9] The likely root for the Upanishad is probably the name of an ancient Indian scholar, Maitra, sometimes spelled Maitri or Maitreya, giving the text the alternate name of Maitri or Maitra Upanishad.[6][8][10] The ancient scholar is also credited with a school of thought, thus giving the text the name Maitrayaniya Upanishad. Other names for this text include Maitrayani Upanishad (मैत्रायणि उपनिषद्), Maitrayana Upanishad, Maitrayaniya-brahmana Upanishad, Sriyagussakhayam Maitrayaniya-brahmana Upanishad, Maitreyopanishad and Maitrayaniyopanishad.[6][8]