Gautama, an aphorist of the Nyāya (Nyaya) philosophy, is also known as Akṣapāda (Akshapada). Vātsyāyana (Vatsayana), a renowned scholar of the Nyāya philosophy, Udyotakara, the author of Nyāyavārtika (Nyayavartika), and Jayantabhatta, the unparalleled author-poet of Nyāyamaṅjarī (Nyayamanjari) have all identified Akṣapāda as the author of Nyāyasūtra (Nyayasutra). But that Akṣapāda is actually none other than the sage Gautama can be clearly understood from a verse in Skandapurāṇa (Skandapurana). It states that Akṣapāda is the great yogi Gautama who is Ahalyā’s (Ahalya’s) husband, and who brought the river Godavari on the earth.
aksapādo mahāyogī gautamākhyo’bhavanmuniḥ/ godāvarī samānetā halyāyaḥ patiḥ prabhuḥ.
Elsewhere in Padmapurāṇa (Padmapurana) it is mentioned that this Akṣapāda was the first to author the text of Nyāyasūtra—
gautamena tathā nyāyaṃ sāṃkhyaṃ tu kapilena bai.
There are at least two folktales in relation to the name Akṣapāda. One of them chronicles the philosopher and logician Gautama falling into an arid well while walking down the streets completely engrossed in thoughts of Nyayā philosophy. It took cumbrous efforts to recover him from the well. After he had been rescued, God apparently took great pity on him and bestowed on his feet another pair of eyes so that he could see the road. In the second tale recounted, the great sage Vyāsa (Vyasa) is a disciple of Gautama. Even after Vyāsa had laid himself prostrate at his guru Gautama’s feet in obeisance, Gautama would still not spare him a glance. Vyāsa had criticised Gautama’s Nyāya philosophy in his Mahābhārata (Mahabharata) and his aphorisms on the Vedanta philosophy (Vedāntasūtra or Vedantasutra); apparently this is why Gautama refused to look at Vyāsa. Gautama finally took pity on his prostrate disciple, and created a pair of eyes on his feet to cast a merciful glance at Vyāsa. In both these tales, the author of aphorisms of the Nyāya philosophy was initially known as Gautama and later on as Akṣapāda, after the conception that he was bestowed with a pair of eyes on his feet. According to us, the convergence of two opposite sense organs, namely the eye (akṣa) and the foot (pāda or pada) within the name has led to the evolution of such tales.