in her own place. Hence there is no real opposition between the status of a
brahmavadini and that of a sadyovadhu. That was why it was by no means
obligatory for a brahmavadini to take the vow of celibacy, renounce the
world, and carry on meditations in a far off, secluded mountain cave. On the
contrary, quite a number of brahmavadinis who came to be blessed with the
realisation of Brahman were married women. In the same manner,
sadyovadhus were also of a high, spiritual nature, and even in the midst of
their multifarious domestic duties, they strove for spiritual perfection and
attained realisation. Thus, whether a woman was married or unmarried was
not the main thing to count; the main thing was to consider her inner
inclinations and ingrained ideals.
Women in Vedic Literature
The very high standard of learning, culture and all-round progress reached by
Indian women during the Vedic age is a well-known fact. The best proof of
this is the fact that the Rig Veda, the oldest known literature in the whole
world, contains hymns by as many as twenty-seven women, called
brahmavadinis or women seers. Saunaka in his Brihaddevata (5th century
BC), a work on the Rig Veda, has mentioned the names of these twenty-seven
women seers. The well-known Vedic commentator Sayana has mentioned the
names of two more of such seers in addition to the above twenty-seven.
During the Vedic age domestic life was not in any way conceived to be
inconsistent with spiritual life, and brahmavadinis were not ascetics roaming
in forests or squatting in caves after renouncing the world, as ordinarily
understood. On the contrary, apart from many brahmavadinis who did not
give up family life, even amongst the above twenty-seven more celebrated
brahmavadinis, many were married or desired to be married.
    In the Upanishads, we meet with the brightest example of a
brahmavadini as well as a sadyovadhu. The brahmavadini is Gargi of
immortal fame, whose highly learned, philosophical discussions with the
great sage Yajnavalkya have been recorded twice in the old and celebrated
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The glorious example of a sadyovadhu too is
found in the same Upanishad. When Yajnavalkya on the eve of his retirement
from the world desired to divide his property between his two wives Maitreyi