Opinion

Gargi Vachaknavi: An inquisitive mind

A quest of myths and minds – Part 1

A human being is born with an inquisitive mind and this inquisitive mind has helped into an evolution of a human being. A journey starting from ‘koham’ leads us to the path of seeking the ultimate truth, bringing us closer to ‘soham’ and even brings a wisdom – ‘ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti’. A churning of questions and answers between inquisitive minds helps us to broaden our humanity.

One of the Indian scholars who have a quest of seeking the meaning of this world is Gargi. She is known as Gargi Vachaknavi to indicate that she is a daughter of sage Vachaknu in the lineage of sage Garga. Alternatively, Gargi means the person who inspires to think and Vachaknavi means the person who speaks of her mind. Gargi Vachaknavi lives up to her name.

From a young age, Gargi shows keen interest in seeking knowledge and becomes proficient in the fields of philosophy. With her inquisitive mind she questions everything: ‘Why does the world exist? What binds the sky to the earth? Why do we imagine? Why do we flatter ourselves with imagination?’ Her inquisitive mind makes others angry as they seek validation of their knowledge but Gargi persists undeterred as she knows that inquisitiveness makes her wiser.

Gargi is one of the renowned scholars in the court of king Janaka of Videha – which means beyond the body. In this court the eminent scholars have conversed and debated. These intimate conversations and debates make up Upanishad. There is a famous legend of a debate between Gargi Vachaknavi and sage Yadnyavalkya. During this debate Gargi poses metaphysical questions about the nature of existence, consciousness and impermanence. This debate helps us to expound the epistemic doctrine of neti neti – i.e. not this not this to discover the universal self.

In today’s time when our minds sometime get boggled with the loads of information thrown at us, someone like Gargi Vachaknavi inspires us to think and not just accept. She also inspires us to speak of one’s mind. In the world abide by rules, Gargi’s quest of inquisitiveness guides us to challenge – a challenge to evolve.

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