Cidgaganacandrika (study)

by S. Mahalakshmi | 2017 | 83,507 words

English study of the Cidgaganacandrika: an important Tantric work belonging to the Krama system of Kashmir Shaivism authored by Shrivatsa (Kalidasa). The Cidgagana-Candrika represents a commentary on the Kramastuti by Siddhanatha and is presented in the form of an eulogy of Parashakti. In four chapters (vimarshas) this book deals with the knowledge...

This book contains Sanskrit text which you should never take for granted as transcription mistakes are always possible. Always confer with the final source and/or manuscript.

Introduction to the Cidgaganacandrikā

The Text Cidgaganacandrikā

The Cidgaganacandrikā, an important Śaiva Tāntrik text with the intricate style, is attributed to Kālidāsa not the one popularly known.[1] This work is in the form of eulogy of the all powerful goddess, the Parāśakti. It is like the moon light pleasantly reflecting simultaneously the ultimate knowledge of the absolute upon the Macrocosmic as well as at the Microcosmic phenomena. There are four vimarśas (reflections) in this work. The first Vimarśa contains 22 verses; the second contains 52 verses; the third contains 105 verses; the fourth Vimarśa contains 133 verses; totally 312 verses.

The author The name of the author of [Cidgaganacandrikā] is often confused as the Popular Kālidāsa as there are some similarities in many places of the text about his authorship.

In the benedictory verse the author says:—

iha kālIdāsa candraprasūtir ānandini stutir vyājat/”[2]

The ending verses of the work also reiterate the same fact:-

siddhanāthakṛtatatkramastute: kālIdāsaracitāñca pañcikām/”[3]

kālIdāsapadavīm tavāśritastatprasādakṛtavāgvijrumbhaṇa:[4]

The Importance of [Cidgaganacandrikā] Gorakṣanātha alias Maheśvarānandanātha in his ‘Parimala’-commentary on his own work “Mahārthamañjarī”, to emphasize his own views on Krama doctrine, has quoted several verses from the Cidgaganacandrikā. Bhāskara Rāya alias Bhāsuranandanātha, in his ‘Sowbhāgya-bhāskara, a commentary on the Lalitāsahasranāma, mentions [Cidgaganacandrikā] as authored by Kālidāsa and quotes the verses from it. Amrtānandanātha, too, in his ‘Dīpika’ commentary on the ‘Yoginīhṛdaya,’ has refered to this celebrated work. Kaivalyāsrama, a pupil of Govindāśrama, in his ‘Saubhāgya subodhinī Tika on Anandalahari refers to the [Cidgaganacandrikā] as the work of Kālidāsa.[5]

Problem of authorship

There is room for the conjecture that the great poet Kālidāsa could be the author of a work on Tantra also because of his supreme devotion to Goddess Kāli from whom he obtained the gift of his unparalleled poetic genius. This work [Cidgaganacandrikā] also deals with the worship of kāli. In many places of this work, while speaking of the glory of devotion, the author addressed the Devī as kāli and introduced himself as Kālidāsa, the devotee of kāli.

He says:-

kevalam tadanuvarṇane apyume tvanmude tadapi dāsajalpitam[6]

The proposition ascribing the [Cidgaganacandrikā]'s authorship to this famous Kālidāsa has been reiterated and echoed several times. For, the last line of the second opening verse “sanmārgālokanāya vyapanayatu sa vas tāmasīm vṛttimiśa: (cgc -I-2) is practically the same as the last line of the opening verse of the Malāvikāgnimitra of Kālidāsa. This leads to the supposition that the Mahākavi kālidāsa and the Tantrik Kālidāsa, the author of the [Cidgaganacandrikā], are one and the same person. According to the traditional view the Goddess kāli pleased with kālidāsa’s devotion, out of pity marked upon his tongue the Mātṛka letters (bījākṣaras) which endowed him with a ready wit in speaking and versifying. After that he came to be known as a Mahākavi and became a devoted worshipper of kāli.[7] His stotra Śyāmalādaṇdaka, praises the glory of Mātaṃgi who is one of the Mahāvidyās in the Tāntric system.

These factors have led the editor Svami Trivikrama Tirtha of the Calcutta edition of the [Cidgaganacandrikā] to concede its authorship to Kālidāsa. Karra Agnihotri Śastri, the erudite modern commentator on the text, fully endorses his views. To cite an instance, he finds an implicit reaffirmation of the Abhijñāna-śākuntala's eightfold Puris in the eightfold structure of the Vṛndacakra.

The passages from the [Cidgaganacandrikā] quoted by Bhāskararāya in his commentary famed as Saubhāgya-bhāskara on the Lalitāsahasranama have been acknowledged by him to be the assertions of Kālidāsa occasionally with reference to the name of this text. Similarly, Śastri has invoked the support of a Tantric text called Hṛdayacandrika by Kavi Cakravartin which explicitly identifies the author of the [Cidgaganacandrikā] with Kālidāsa. But it must be frankly stated that a host of scholars, who have profusely quoted from the text in question, have maintained complete silence over its authorship. Among these are Maheśvarānanda, Amṛtānandanātha and Kaivalyāśrama.

The concluding line of the [Cidgaganacandrikā] ‘vānararthamahāguhyam śrivatso vidadhe sa tu’ suggests that the author was known as Śrivatsa [Śrīvatsa?]—perhaps his gotra name. This is the line which is of key importance in connection with the authorship issue. Even to this last line, Śastri accords an entirely mystic interpretation taking him as a crest of meaning called Śrīvatsa.

Date of [Cidgaganacandrikā]

But, the documentary evidences relating to the date and authorship of the [Cidgaganacandrikā] go against the above views. The Śloka 305 of [Cidgaganacandrikā], states that it is more or less a supplement of Kramastut i by Siddhanatha who is also known as Śambhunatha. Pṛthvīdharācārya in his Bhuvaneśvari stotra confirms this view.[8] So there can be no doubt that the [Cidgaganacandrikā] of Kālidāsa was composed after the Kramastuti. But Abhinavaguptapada also composed another work named Kramastotra. Again, it is known that Śambhunatha and Abhinavaguptapada lived and wrote in the same age. To be a little more precise, it should be made clear that from Śambhunatha, Abhinavagupatapada gathered a complete knowledge of the purport and mystery of the Tantras, and then began writing Tantra-Nibandhas.[9]

Abhinava composed Bṛhat-pratyabhijñā-vimarṣiṇi, in 1014 A.D.Probably the [Cidgaganacandrikā] was composed a little earlier than Abhinava’s Tantrāloka. The date of the composition of [Cidgaganacandrikā] may, therefore, be fixed near the beginning of the 11th century A.D. The date of the great poet Kālidāsa of immortal fame, was certainly predated.

From the references to Matṛgupta obtained from Kalhana’s Rājataraṅgiṇi[10] it appears that he was regarded as the Kālidāsa of Kashmir, who lived during the time of Emperor Harsa-vikramāditya of Ujjayini. He belonged to the Trika school of Kashmir.Further, in the Prabandha-Kosa by Rājaśekhara it is stated that there were three poets of the name of Kālidāsa, Abhinava Kālidāsa, and Nava-Kālidāsa.(9th-10th cent A.D.,)[11] There is a work on astronomy named JyotirvIdābharaṇa, so also Uttarakālamṛta, that also pass in his name. But later researches proved that these works were written by some later authors. So much so that different types of works belonging to different ages composed by different unknown authors have been wrongly ascribed to him. The attempt to ascribe this [Cidgaganacandrikā] also to Poet Kālidāsa, seems to have been inspired by some later scribe or scholar who did not think of the chronological discrepancies involved in the matter.

Śrīvatsa Kālidāsa

The time of the author of the Cidgaganacandrika is not as puzzling as his identity. [Cidgaganacandrikā] is a commentary described as Pañcika by him, on the Krama Stotra of Siddhanātha. In autobiographical references, he too introduces himself as Kālidāsa. He mentions one Śiva as a pioneer of the perceptorial line, Cakrabhānu as an eminent teacher and Soma as the concluding figure of the lineage to which the author pledges his allegiance. The author received his tuitions in Krama from the son of Soma.(Annexure-Krama lineage)

This justifies that he is not the legendary Kālidāsa, but a different person. Cakrabhānu and Somarāja, and for that matter his son, more or less have a definite chronological status that puts them within a century's bracket running from 1050 to 1150 A.D. as they come in preceptor’s hierarchy. Even the earliest limit cannot go beyond the tenth century, because the author of the Krama Stotra i,e., Siddhanātha, belongs to the first half of the tenth century. But since the author maintains direct doctrinal and scholastic affiliation to Cakrabhānu etc, his date can not be pushed back to 11th or 12th cent.A.D. Besides, the earliest references made to this are by Maheśvarānanda who belongs to the close of the twelfth and beginning of the thirteenth century. Therefore his date cannot be advanced either. Had he flourished much earlier, the early texts could not afford to ignore him altogether. Therefore, on every count, the present author is different from the great poet.

Further, Mankha (1127 - 1151 A.D.) refers to a pair of the two celibates namely Bhudda and Śrīvatsa in course of his description of the literary circle of his brother and heaps an exceedingly high praise on both of them for unparalleled poetic richness and beauty of their verses -as if Goddess Muse herself put a stamp on the wealth of their poetic art. Śrīvatsa, therefore, belonged to this period.

Internal evidence

The author of the [Cidgaganacandrikā] in the last verse gives out his name as Śrīvatsa in an assertive tone. Kālidāsa seems to be his honorific title and not his actual name, according to his own statement. Due to the grace of Divine Mother, his unique literary and spiritual accomplishment fetched him this valued title. Śrīvatsa, the author of the [Cidgaganacandrikā],thus seemed to have secured the title of Kālidāsa for his poetic brilliance, ingenuity and achievements.

The necessary corollaries that follow in the wake of such proposition are that the author of the [Cidgaganacandrikā] was Śrīvatsa. He was a pupil of Soma's son who perhaps was also known as Gupta. He belonged to Pūrṇapiṭha, the centre of his spiritual activity, where he wrote his Pañcika on the Krama stotra.

This Srivatsa alone is certainly the author of [Cidgaganacandrikā] Probably, he was much influenced by the writings of the famous Kālidāsa which made him to reflect certain lines or ideas of him.

The structure of the work

The whole work, according to the author, comprises three hundred and nine verses in traistubha metre, However, there are in all three hundred and twelve verses in the printed edition and the first two verse are not in the above metre. Thus the total number of verses in the above metre amounts to three hundred and ten and if the last verse pertaining to the author himself is excluded, the total corresponds to the figure mentioned by the author.But it is doubtful that the original text has come down to us in full, because a few verses quoted by Kaivalyāśrama, Amrtānandanātha are not traceable to the printed text.

Critical Estimate of the work

The [Cidgaganacandrikā] is in the form of prayer addressed directly to Ādi Ś akti. It reminds all ontological aspects on principles of worship. The text of [Cidgaganacandrikā] has four divisions of expostions called Vimarśas (the creative power or the reflecting Principle)The first of the four divisions serves as the prelude to the central idea of the entire text in a concise form. Other three divisions augment the main theme, as if like the expansions.

Contents of [Cidgaganacandrikā]

In Vimarśa I, the author deals mainly with Śivatattva, Prakāśa-Vimarśa tattva, Īśvaratattva, Brahmasvarūpa, Pratyabhijñā, Śakti tattva, Bheda kāraṇa, Guṇatraya,Īśvaraśakti, Jñāna, Dhyāna, Ekāgrata, Sṛṣṭi, and Saṃhāra, etc., In Vimarśa II Vimarśa lakṣana, Vāmāśakti, Parā-paśyantyādi-vāk catuṣṭaya,Dhāma, Anāhata svara, Kalā, Mātṛka. Nādabindu, Ādyaspanda, Khecaricatuṣṭaya, Pañcavāha, Unmanī, Prakāśa, Citta, Vāsana, Paratattva, Sāmarasya, Ṣodaśa kalā, Upāsana-sādhana etc., are the subjects chiefly discussed.

In the third Vimarśa there is a description of Upāsana, Pīṭhotpatti, Pīṭhacakra, Pūjāprakaraṇa, Pañcavāhacakra, Kalā, Kundalitritaya, Śivamūrti, Paṅkti, Divyaugha, Pañcavṛtti, Guruvṛnda, Ānandacakra, Prakāśacakra, Vṛndacakra, Mantraśakti, Mudra, Śivarūpa, Śūnyapada, Sṛṣṭi, Antacakra, Vṛndacakravyāpti, Nāda, Pañcayoni, Pūrnapratha, Khaṇdacakra, Vyomatattva, etc.,

The fourth Vimarśa deals with Ṣadadvā, Caṇdika, Pūjādravya, Pūjārahasya, Vimarśasvarūpa, Śrutipramāṇa, The Stūla(gross) form of the Devi, Mantraśakti, the different forms of Kāli, Nāda, Sudhasindhu, Samvitpadma, Māyakarṇika, Prakṛti-maya pātra, Pīṭha, Pretāsana, Pūjādhikarin, Kālisvarūpa, Pañcavāhakrama, Mūrticakra, Turīyapada, Jñāna sādhana, Caraṇavidya, Saṃhārakrama, Mantrapīṭha, Vyomarūpa, Yantra, Navacakra, Guruparampara, Gurupāduka, Jñānaniṣṭha, etc.

This apart, principles that are exclusively known to the Upāsakas, such as Pañcavāha, Dvādaśaśakti, Khecari, Gurukrama, the different forms of Adyāśakti that are worshipped, Pūjākrama, Ṣadadhvā, Bhāvana, the consequence of Bhāvana, the Mantra and Mantraśakti, Cāra, Rava, Cāru, the practical results of Mudra etc., have been discussed as matters of importance in many ślokas in every division of the work. In the concluding ten stanzas of the text, the author has explained the purpose and impact of his compostion.

[Cidgaganacandrikā] and Trika school

The author of the Kramastuti Śri Siddhanatha(Śri Śambhunatha), was one of the most learned men of the famous Trika school of Kashmir. Though kālidāsa composed [Cidgaganacandrikā] in the form of a commentary on Kramastuti, it follows the Trika school also.

[Cidgaganacandrikā] and kāli forms

[Cidgaganacandrikā] elaborately deals with the forms of kāli, unknown to Bengal and southern India viz. Sṛṣṭi Kāli, Sthitikāli, Saṃhārakāli, Raktakāli, Mṛtyukāli, Caṇdograkāli, Kālaśaṅkarṣiṇikāli etc., described later by Abhinavagupta and others of Kashmirian tradition.

It does not mention such forms of kāli as Guhyakāli, Haṃsakāli, Śmasānakāli, Dakṣiṇakāli, Kamakalākāli, and Guhyaśmāsāna Kāli etc., which are worshipped in Bengal and Kerala. [Cidgaganacandrikā] mentions about kālaśaṅkarṣiṇi Kāli which is dealt with elaborately, in the prologue of Anuttarāmnaya prakarana of Cidambara Tantra.

Paratattva upāsana

Kālidāsa in his [Cidgaganacandrikā] speaks about the upāsana of Paratattva (worship of the Supreme Principle) in the form of Ādyāśakti Kālikā. Abhinavagupta, too, reiterates the same thing in details in his Tantrāloka and Tantrasāra. There is no doubt that Kālidāsa was prior to Abhinavagupta; but both of them were from the same traditional line of Gurus. This is evident from a few verses in the first and fourth Ahnika of the TL.

Significance of Guruparampara

Gurus, in Tantra śāstra, impart the knowledge of the secrets and technicalities of their science to the disciples, traditionally transmitted to Posterior generation. (sampradāya). In case of a break in this system due to want of disciples the secrets known to that school die with the ultimate Guru; For this very reason, the secrets current among the members of one particular school, are guarded against the members of other school, Hence, Kumarila Bhatta, the great Mimāṃsa activist of the Vedas, got himself initiated into Buddhism, and mastered the essence and spirit of the non- Vedic religion. Gradually the links in the chain of Gurus and Śisyas of the Tāntrika schools broke and because of this the secret principles of the tantras became garbled. This paved the way for misinterpretation of the Tāntrik doctrine resulting in the loss of faith.

The Secret Principles of Upāsana

Vedic worship, has been discussed in the Agamaśāstras, and explained by Raghava Bhatta in the very beginning of his illuminating commentary on Śāradātilaka. The knowledge of the Mantras are the basis for rituals. The knowledge of Śabda is essential to know the meaning of the mantras. “Securing the knowledge of the secrets and techniques, of this particular school of Tantra, is necessary to catch the secret principles of Upāsana focussed in [Cidgaganacandrikā], from one who has obtained this knowledge in an unbroken line of discipleship from the author. When Arnold Avalon wrote this in his introduction to the work edited by Swāmi Trivikrama Tirtha at Calcutta in 1937, there was no Commentary available.

Two Commentaries

At present, there are two commentaries written subsequently and available on this [Cidgaganacandrikā] “Divya cakorikā” is a commentary written by Agnihotri Śaśtri in the year 1941 which was published by Śri Śarada Printing Press, Amalapuram. Yet another commentary called “Kramaprakāśikā” was written by Pandit Raghunātha Miśra and published by Sampurnand Sanskrit Visvavidyālayā, Vāranāsi, in the Year 1980. Agnihotri Śaśtri has given also the English translation for the first two vimarśa s only of [Cidgaganacandrikā] His style of explanation is too vast and hard for the Upāsakas to understand the nuances and technicalities he often uses in his Divyacakorikā. Kramaprakāśikā written by Pandit Raghunātha Miśra, on the other hand is relatively understandable.

Hence an attempt is made to study this [Cidgaganacandrikā] mainly with the help of Kramaprakāśikā with out totally ignoring Divya Cakorikā. It is to say, where ever the views of Agnihotri Śaśtri are relevant and appealing, they are also incorporated in this study.

The next chapter deals with the content of the first two Vimarsas based on the version of Agnihotri Śaśtri.

Footnotes and references:


Pandit Trivikrama Tirtha. (vide:Intro. by Arnold Avalon, Cidgagana Candrika)


iha kālidāsacandraprasūtirānandinī stutirvyājāt |
cidgaganacandrikābdheḥ śamayatu saṃsāradāvadavathuṃ vaḥ || 3 ||
[Cidgaganacandrikā] -Vimarsa–I–Verse 3


muktameva na mayā mayocitaḥ prerito'smi tava tartinī tayā |
siddhanāthakṛtatvatkramastuteḥ kālidāsaracitāṃ ca pañcikām || 305 ||
[Cidgaganacandrikā] -Vimarsa–IV–Verse 305


yadviniścayapadaṃ ca te stavaṃ yo'mba veda kuru tanmukhaṃ jagat |
kālidāsapadavīṃ tavāśritaḥ tvatprasādakṛtavāgvijṛmbhaṇaḥ || 306 ||
[Cidgaganacandrikā] -Vimarsa–IV–Verse 306


Cf. Catalogus Codicum Sanscriticorum (oxf,), p. 108.


prāptadivyanayanairvilakṣaṇairvīkṣya kāli mahimā'nuvarṇyate |
kevalaṃ tadanuvarṇane'pyume tvanmude tadapi dāsajalpitam || 272 ||
[Cidgaganacandrikā] -Vimarsa–IV–Verse 272


Vide: Intro by Arnold Avalon, Cidgagana candrika, Fn.P.2


śrīsiddhanātha iti ko'pi yuge caturthe prādurbabhūva karuṇāvaruṇālaye'smin śrīśambhurītyabhīdhayā samayī prasannaṃ cetaścakāra sakalāgama-cakravartī ||
B.S. Verse 37.


śrīśambhunāthāt karuṇārasane svayaṃ prasannādanapekṣāvṛttyā
kaśmīrīko'bhinavaguptapadābhidhānaḥ śrītantrasāramakarodrujunākramaṇe—T.S.

ityāgamam sakalaśāstramahānidhānāt śrīśambhunāthavadanād adhigamya samyak
śāstre rahasyarasasaṃtatisudaṃre asmin gambhīra vāci racita vivṛtirmayeyam ||
īśvapratyabhijñavimarśinīvivṛtiparameśvaraprasannaproddharaṇṛkapāprayukta-hṛdayaḥ |
śrīmān devaḥ śaṃbhurmāmiyati niyuktavāṃstattve ||—Paratrimshika


Ct. “Matrgupta was, according to Kalhana, a predecessor of Pravarasena the celebrated author of the Sethubandha), and his personality nas suffered a confusion with Kalidasa by unwise conjecture”

Keith,A Hist of Sans Lit, p132 Ct-Winternitz, Gd; Levi,TI.i, 183f.

Stein fixes the dates of Mtrgupta and Pravarasena to be the latter part of the 6th cent A.D.,-Stein,Rajtar, III.125-326.


Aufrecht;Cat;Cat, P I, p, 99.

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