Ratugamage Asha Nimali Feernando - New Voices Research Profile

Gargi Vachaknavi, the natural philosopher in ancient traditional Hindu philosophy, was born about c.7th century BCE. According to the Vedic literature she was in deep understanding of Vedic and Upanishad teachings. The historical text Brihadaranyaka Upanishad records of her participation in the philosophical debate called Brahmajana which was organised by King Janaka of Videha, and her challenging of the philosopher and sage Yajnavalkya.  Therefore, she was glorified as the women with higher knowledge or wise women “Brahmavadini in Sanskrit language, that means someone with supreme knowledge. There is historical evidence that she had practiced yoga and awakened Kundalini or the spiritual energy and realized the Self or atman. She had keen interest in Vedic scriptures. Her intellectual influence was her father Sage Garga who lived in 800 BCE. This intellectual woman engaged in dealing with metaphysical and cosmological issues in those days. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad mentions that among the philosophical debates in Videha she was the only woman who raised questions an involved in arguments about the ultimate reality in this universe. Her initial argument with Yajnavalkya tended to be highly metaphysical, such as unending status of the soul, away from practical situations. Her questions were mainly focused on the origin and the existence of this universe. This research paper will explore the place of women’s and their philosophical arguments in ancient and traditional philosophies in India. This will also explore the role of Indian women in philosophical debate in 7the Century BCE in critical manner and the contribution of women in academic philosophy in ancient times based to textual analysis.

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Contact: asha@sjp.ac.lk

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