Those who began the search all those many years ago were less ascetic, no less desirous, than the hagiographic literature makes out. For them the finale, the ultimate crown, was to be more than trophy-wives and a yacht docked off Cannes.
They were looking for something much bigger. The grandest prize of all. Something called: ‘Immortality’. Also called: ‘The Other Shore’.
The highest intent of Yajna, of ceremonial sacrifice, was the gaining of Immortality [A-mrityu; mrityu, as in mortalis, mort, mortal].
The pivotal verses that birth the first intuition of a formulated Shūnyam in the Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad are in fact a response by Yājñavalkya to his wife Maitreyi’s query on Death. It’s the opening throw.
[Yajna today stands domesticated as the Puja and ‘Immortality’ has been toned down to requests for an employable son-in-law. But that is another story.]