Gargi Vachaknavi – 7th Century BCE – India

Ancient India

This Indian philosopher challenged the intellectual men of her time by being one step ahead…

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Like Maitreyi, Gargi Vachaknavi is famous in Vedic literature for her intelligence and knowledge of Hindu scripture. Her story also involves the sage Yajnavalkya, Maitreyi’s husband and teacher.

 King Janaka was deeply interested in philosophy, and filled his court with the great minds of his day. Among these was Gargi, one of Janaka’s Navaratnas (nine gems). She composed a number of hymns questioning the origin of existence and was an author of Gargi Samhita.

Gargi attended the brahmayajna – the world’s first philosophy conference which was also attended by Yajnavalkya. At this congress, Gargi challenged Yajnavalkya, considered the wisest man in the world, by asking questions about the foundation of atman (soul). After several questions which Yajnavalkya answered correctly, she asked about the nature of the word of Brahman (the supreme state of being) – to this the sage became angry, and told her not to ask so many questions

“Gargi, do not question too much, lest your head fall off. In truth, you are questioning too much about a divinity about which further questions cannot be asked. Gargi, do not over-question.”


Notes:

Navaratnas – or “nine gems” was a term applied to a group of nine extraordinary people in an emperor’s court in India.


References:

The Strides of Vishnu: Hindu Culture in Historical CultureAriel Glucklich

Gargi Vachaknavi on Indianscriptures.com 

On Wikipedia:

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