Have you heard of Gargi Vachaknavi? Maybe not – no one talks about her much, but since we have just celebrated women’s day, let us tell you about her. Because she was someone very educated for her time.
Gargi Vachaknavi was one of the only female scholars in the Vedic Age. The Vedic Age is a time in history that introduced the Vedas, which are one of the most important religious books for Hindus. Veda means knowledge in Sanskrit.
Tell me more about Gargi Vachaknavi
Gargi Vachaknavi was born in about the 7th century BC and was a great scholar and philosopher. She was popularly known as Brahmavadini, as someone who has immense knowledge. She participated in various intellectual (brainy) debates and discussions. Not only was she knowledgeable, but she was a great orator with brilliant argumentative skills. She contributed many writings to the Rig Veda (one of the religious texts of Hindus) and she is also known as one of the first women who promoted education for girls.
There’s an interesting story about her debate with a learned scholar..
The story is that King Janaka has asked for a debate – which was supposed to be held all over the kingdom. There was a Rishi called Yajnavalakya, who said he would win even before the debate started. He believed there would be no one as smart as him in the kingdom and already began to take the prize of winning the debate home.
This got Gargi angry, she challenged him. She started asking questions that Rishi Yajnavalakya could not answer. From questions about the soul, existence, the universe, and the environment, Gargi continued day in and out to test and challenge Yajnavalakya. The questions drove him to a point to ask Gargi to not ask anymore. This impressed King Janaka and from then on she was called one of the gems it King Janaka’s rule and continued to write and preach her knowledge.
So here’s a woman who fought hard to gain knowledge and educate herself. She taught many the spirit of questioning and learning. Today she stands as a role model for girls who wish to use education as their tool for freedom and growth.
Let us know if you did know the story of Gargi and if you know any other inspiring women who are not commonly known but deserve recognition.
VOCABULARY WORDS YOU LEARNT IN THIS ARTICLE:
Orator: a great public speaker
Intellectual: An intelligent and well-read person