Gargi

Introduction

In society man and woman are like two wings in a bird and unless both of them are spiritually inspired and move forward to lead a righteous life society will be unable to flourish or progress on the right path. Women in India are respected and revered. She is worshipped as Shakti or Energy without which even Shiva cannot create anything. She is the progenitor of the Universe. Women in the Vedic period complemented and supplemented their male counterparts. They were the epitomes of spiritual and intellectual attainments. One of the most famous woman seers of ancient times was Gargi who is honoured as one of the great natural philosophers. She composed several hymns that questioned the origin of all existence.

King Janaka’s competition

King Janaka of the kingdom of Videha was a great King and philosopher and he had many scholars and intellectuals in his court. There were nine Navaratnas or nine gems. One of these nine was Gargi Vachaknavi who was the daughter of Rishi Vachaknu. Once, King Janaka organised a Brahmayajna or a philosophical Congress around the theme of the sacrificial fire. He wished to find out who was the greatest Brahma Jnani or knower of Brahman. All the Brahmins would be involved in debates and discussions and the winner was to be awarded one thousand cows with gold plated horns. A great sage named Yajnavalkya challenged and defeated all the Brahmins. He was an erudite scholar, a renowned sage and one of the law givers of Ancient India. He was a beacon of light who contributed to the Spiritual and Vedic renaissance. With his superior wisdom and knowledge he defeated all the scholars like Aswala, Artha Bhaga, Bhujyu, Uddalaka, Ushasta etc. Then finally it was the turn of Gargi. She began by asking him elementary questions about the world. She slowly began to ask more and more refined questions and Yajnavalkya answered them all correctly. His explanations were so lucid and full of wisdom that his descriptions on the nature of Brahman were conveyed through a series of images and metaphors as Brahman was something that could only be experienced and not defined in rigid terms. Gargi was enlightened and defeated and declared in the august assembly that Yajnavalkya was the best and none could defeat him.

Records in history

The dialogue between Sage Yajnavalkya and Gargi is recorded in Yogayajnavalkya Samhita a classical text on Yoga. Gargi was the only one who could question him twice with great courage. Being a woman and greatly learned she was placed on par with the male section during the Vedic times. Gargi’s questions revealed a clear and intelligent mind. She discussed profound topics and concepts like Science and its unity with the material and non material world and the illusion of time, source of creation etc. She conceded and acknowledged defeat courageously and declared generously to all the Brahmins his greatness which points out to her magnanimity and courage to face the truth.

Conclusion

Gargi was a woman seer who was known for her exemplary intellectual knowledge and supreme spiritual attainment. She was called Brahmavadini because of her knowledge of Brahma Vidya. Being born in the Garga Gotra family line she was also called Gargi. Being a God realised soul it is said that she defeated Mandana Mishra earlier and her Kundalini was awakened due to which she really was a God realised soul. Her name is always taken with reverence in the annals of history and she is one of the classic examples of woman seers in ancient India.