By Swami Harshananda
A sāksin or sākṣī is one who witnesses the happenings around him in a detached way, and can give an unbiased account.
In the Hindu judicial system a sāksi or a witness is accepted as reliable if he comes from a respectable family, is deeply
religious by temperament, is devoted to truth and is straightforward.
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 colour of the face, faltering speech and contradictory statements.
In Vedānta, the jīvātman (the individual Self) is called sākṣī or sākṣī-caitanya since he is a witness to all the three states of consciousness, viz., jāgrat (waking), svapna (dreaming) and suṣupti (deep sleep).
Atman or Brahman also is called sākṣī in the Upaniṣads (vide Svetāśvatara Upanisad 6.11) and the Bhagavadgītā (9.18) since he is witnessing everything, but is unaffected by the changes of the empirical world.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore