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Gargi, the wise and learned daughter of Rishi Vachakn

Gargi, the wise and learned daughter of Rishi Vachakn
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Gargi, the wise and learned daughter of Rishi (sage) Vachaknu, was known as Brahmavadini because of her having the knowledge of Brahma-vidya. She participated in a debate with the knower of Brahma, Yajnavalkya in the Yajnasala ( place for sacrifices ) of King Janaka. We get in the Brhadaranyaka Upanisad a dialogue between Gargi and Yajnavalkya. Thus it is evident that in ancient India, women used to obtain knowledge of many sciences and disciplines. They also used to participate in public functions and take part in intellectual debates. There used to be no ban of any sort in the field of knowledge, this is established very clearly from the account of Gargi’s life.

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A wife of Yajnavalkya, plays a major role in a section of the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad, is the first Indian woman philosopher. One of the most interesting discussions of this absolute principle is given in the form of a dialogue between Gargi, and her husband Yajnavalkya, a great sage. Although in the preceding dialogues Gargi has been warned not to ask too many questions, lest her head fall off, she persisted, and was rewarded with answers to her questions.

Yajnavalkya said: “Ask, Gargi”

She said: “That, O Yajnakvalkya, which is above the sky, that which is beneath the earth, that which is between these two, sky and earth, that which people call the past and the present and the future – across what is that woven, warp and woof?” 

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