Akṣipuruṣa-vidyā

(‘Science of the person in the eye’)

Indian philosophical thought has reached its acme in the Upaniṣads. Coming as a reaction to Vedic ritualism and priestcraft it had to stress the need for realizing the spiritual dimensions of man. The sages of the Upaniṣads, with their deep insight into human nature, knew that a total break with the past would be rather difficult for the men steeped lifelong in rituals. Wishing to lead them to higher levels of spiritual experience, step by step, these sages devised several upāsanās or Vidyās (mystic meditations) often based on the same rituals which they practised.

One of these Vidyās that occurs in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad (4.15 and 8.7.4) is the Akṣipuruṣavidyā. ‘Akṣipuruṣa’ means ‘the person seen in the eye.’ He is identified with the ātman. Obviously he cannot be the reflection seen in the eyeball. He is the person who animates the eye and enables it to see. Or he is the person seen through the inner eye after purifying the mind through disciplines like brahmacharya or celibacy. Actually he is the draṣṭā, the seer and not dṛśya, the seen. He is Brahman. Meditation upon him as the seer or even as the eye that sees everything else is Akṣipuruṣavidyā. The fruits of such meditation are believed to be obtaining all good things, shining in all worlds and after death, not being reborn.

See also VIDYĀS.