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By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Saksi, SAkSI, Saakshi

Sākṣī literally means ‘witness’.

Qualities of a Sākṣī

A sāksin or sākṣī is the one who witnesses the happenings around him in a detached way and can give an unbiased account. In the religious judicial system a sāksi or a witness is accepted as reliable if:

  • He should comes from a respectable family.
  • He should be deeply religious by temperament.
  • He should be devoted to truth.
  • He should be straightforward.

Qualities of Undependable Sākṣī

A few of the interesting descriptions of an unreliable witness are:

  • Shifting the position constantly
  • Licking the corner of his own lips
  • Sweat on the forehead
  • Change of color of the face
  • Faltering speech
  • Contradictory statements

Śākṣī as per Vedānta

In Vedānta, the jīvātman[1] is called sākṣī or sākṣī-caitanya since he is a witness to all the three states of consciousness, viz:

  1. Jāgrat - waking
  2. Svapna - dreaming
  3. Suṣupti - deep sleep

Sākṣī as per the Upaniṣads

Atman or Brahman also is called sākṣī in the Upaniṣads[2] and the Bhagavadgītā[3] since he is witnessing everything, but is unaffected by the changes of the empirical world.


  1. Jīvātman means the individual Self.
  2. Svetāśvatara Upanisad 6.11
  3. Bhagavadgītā 9.18
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore