Gargi wins the debate

1001 Tales told by the Master Discourses

“Men have not allowed women to become enlightened… to be anything that is their potential,” states Osho.

Indian cow herd

Men have not allowed women to become enlightened. Men have not allowed women to be anything that is their potential. In the whole of history, at the most ten women have become enlightened. The fact is very sad and miserable. These women must have been very rebellious.

In the Vedas, there is one woman, Gargi, and you can see her courage….

The king of those days, Janak, used to have every year a great conference of the wise ones, to argue and discuss about the ultimate truth. He was himself very much a seeker. He wanted to listen to all the aspects, all the different pathways.

Yagnavalkya was one of the most important wise people. He had thousands of followers. And there was a great prize also: whoever won that great contest would get one thousand cows, which were standing outside the palace with their horns covered with thick gold.

It was getting hot. Yagnavalkya told his disciples, “Take these cows to the ashram.” But they said, “You have not won the debate.” He said, “That I will do later on.” He was so confident, and everybody knew that he would win, so nobody objected, not even the king – because this was absolutely not right, to take the prize before you have even entered the discussion. You have accepted yourself as victorious already.

Rishi Gargi
Rishi Gargi, artist’s impression

His disciples took away those one thousand cows. And Yagnavalkya was winning against other learned people; one by one, whoever stood against him was defeated immediately. But he encountered for the first time a woman, Gargi.

Gargi said, “You will have to bring those cows back. You have not won the debate – I am here. I will ask a few questions and you will be finished.” Even Yagnavalkya became afraid. Nobody had behaved like this, and a woman…

Gargi said, “Do you think God exists? – then give the evidence.”

There is no argument that can prove God’s existence – either you believe or you don’t believe, but belief is not an argument. It is simply failure of your nerve. Yagnavalkya remained silent. She asked, “Can you tell me if anybody created the world?”

He said, “Yes, God created the world.”

Gargi laughed. On that beautiful, auspicious occasion, her laughter was immensely beautiful. She said, “Are you sure? Were you a witness? Or have you any other witness, who has seen you seeing God creating the world?”

Now, this was difficult. Nobody had ever witnessed it. And the problem was, if Yagnavalkya said, “I witnessed,” that meant the world was already created. What were you witnessing? – you are the world. Certainly, the beginning cannot be witnessed. And if it cannot be witnessed, it cannot be proved.

And Gargi said, “Neither is there God, nor is there any beginning, nor is there any end. These are all things which the parasite priests have invented, imagined, propagated… all kinds of nonsense and superstitions.”

Yagnavalkya was known to be a silent, peaceful man. He forgot all about silence and peace, and he said, “Gargi, if you speak any other word your head will fall on the earth.”

Now, the sword is not an argument. And Yagnavalkya had to return, in deep shame, those one thousand cows. When they were returned, Gargi said, “You can keep them. I am not interested in cows and gold. I was interested to see how much understanding you had.” […]

A few women have been of tremendous courage, but most women have been crippled by men. They have not been educated. They are not allowed to read religious scriptures, they are not allowed any social contact. Half of the world has been cut away from the other half completely. This is the greatest slavery that has happened on this earth; all other slaveries are very small. But even with this slavery, women have asserted themselves once in a while. That shows the possibility.

Osho, Hari Om Tat Sat, Ch 23, Q 1 (excerpt)

Series compiled by Shanti
All excerpts of this series can be found in: 1001 Tales

Comments are closed.