Have you ever heard of Gargi Vachaknavi?
Gargi Vachaknavi was a renowned woman scholar of ancient times, born around 700 BC. She is the world’s oldest icon Of feminism in ancient Hinduism. The Vedic literature praises her as a highly knowledgeable philosopher and expounder of Vedas. One of the most coveted titles given to her is Brahmavadini, meaning a person possessing the highest knowledge of Brahman. Reference about her occurs in the 8th Brahmana of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. It talks of her participation in a philosophical debate organized in a court of King Janaka. She was born in the lineage of the renowned sage Garga and her period is attributed to somewhere between 800 & 500BC. Her father was Vachaknu, hence she inherited the name Gargi Vachaknavi. Her proficiency and depth of knowledge in the scriptures made her competent to hold philosophic discussions with highly learned scholars. In the Upanishadic literature, Gargi appears with other well-learned scholars including Vadava Pratitheyi and Sulabha Maitreyi. In the Vedic lore, her name is mentioned in the Grihya Sutras of Asvalayana. It is said that she was one who could awaken her Kundalini powers.
King Janaka was a patron of learning and scholarship in the Vedas. Once he conducted a Rajasuya Yajna that lasted for several days. As part of the Yajna, he organized live debates between highly learned scholars. He announced 1000 cows with each of the cows dangled with 10 grams of gold in its horns as a prize for the winner. Most scholars did not dare to contest with the highly learned scholar Yajnavalkya. However, among the handful who came forward for discussion, Gargi was the one who could sustain the dialogue with Yajnavalkya till the last minute, finally acknowledging the great scholarship & knowledge of Yajnavalkya. The dialogue between the two has attained immortal fame, it especially highlights the stature of Gargi.
She had a deep inquisitiveness to unravel the mystery of Brahman (the supreme principle) and had tried to expound the nature of atman (individual soul), Brahman (supreme or universal soul), and the relationship between atman and Brahman. She has also contributed good no of verses to Vedic lore. In orthodox & elite Hindu circles, she’s always remembered as an illustrative figure of exalted women. She was a champion of women’s education & social equality. She was truly the 1st feminist, a great scholar & a role model. Gargi was one of the Great Women of India. Vedic times seem so modern and enlightened compared to today. We seem to have slid down a path from the great height some 3000 yrs ago when others were in caves.
The article is retrieved from twitter handle @VandanaJayrajan Our team has corroborated the above information before publishing.