Gargi Vachaknavi was an accomplished scholar of Vedic times. She excelled many sages in knowledge. She was the daughter of sage Vachaknu and her challenging the great sage Yajnavalkya forms part of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Once kind Janaka, convened a court of scholars to exchange views about the nature of Ultimate Reality. Yajnavalkya and hundreds of other sages from different parts of the country attended. Gargi too came to the court of Janaka.
A desire arose in the mind of Janaka to know who was the most learned among the sages. He had a thousand cows confined in a place and on the horns of each cow was attached a pouch of gold. He declared: ‘Venerable sages let him who is the greatest Vedic scholar among you drive these cows home’. The sages did not dare to make that claim, they kept quiet. But Yajnavalkya asked his disciple to drive the cows to his hermitage. The other sages did not approve of this. They started asking him questions to test his knowledge. Yajnavalkya answered all of them brilliantly.
Finally Gargi stood up. She said that she would ask Yajnavalkya some questions. If he answered them satisfactorily she would admit that he possessed the highest knowledge. Yajnavalkya answered the series of questions to her satisfaction. The Gargi-Yajnavalkya dialogue is a remarkable proof of the depth of spiritual insight, women scholars were capable of in those times.