Cidgaganacandrika (study)

by S. Mahalakshmi | 2017 | 83,507 words

This page relates ‘Three Upayas (means to enter universal God consciousness)’ of the English study of the Cidgaganacandrika: an important Tantric work belonging to the Krama system of Kashmir Shaivism. Written by Kalidasa (Shrivatsa) in 312 Sanskrit verses, the Cidgagana-Candrika deals with the knowledge regarding both the Macrocosmic and Microcosmic phenomena. This study includes renditions from the two available commentaries—the Divyacakorika and the Kramaprakashika

Part 5 - Three Upayas (means to enter universal God consciousness)

Divine grace shines on the aspirant who is perseverant in attaining the state of Śiva by following one of the Upāyas drives away the clutches of Māya who causes limitations in empirical beings[1].

Upāya is the term Kashmir Shaivism uses, to denote the ways and means to enter into Universal God Consciousness from individual consciousness.

[The following are three means advocated by Kashmir Saivism]:

  1. Śāmbhavopāya, the superior means,
  2. Śāktopāya, the medieval means, and
  3. Āṇavopāya, the inferior means.

1) Śāmbhavopāya

Śāmbhavopāya functions in Mātṛka Cakra, Pratyāhāra, and Pratibimbavāda. Thoughtlessness is called Śāmbhavopāya. Aspirant finds the reflection of the whole universe in his own self as if it is from within rather than outside. The state of Absolute, “I” the Paramaśiva who emits the letters, words, sentences and the whole universe is attained by the aspirant, who is guided by a guru to practise to be thoughtless and preserve thoughtlessness. It is through guru that entry into the transcendental consciousness happens in this upāya. This is called Icchopāya due its emergence from Icchā Śakti. It is the state of ultimate knowledge and only grace of Guru makes it automatic. This means that the disciple must merge in his Guru’s consciousness where only Guru exists. Guru selects only the disciples highly developed in awareness for this upāya. Śaivaite yogi, established in Śāmbhavopāya illumines the whole universe just like Sun. Guru is most significant here. This means which exists in the world of pure monism (abheda) is Śāmbhavopāya and is called Abhedopāya.

2) Śāktopāya

Śāktopāya is called Jñānopāya because of its origin from Jñāna Śakti, the energy of knowledge. It is functioned by the means of energies. The Sādhaka’s efforts to improve his eligibility to receive Guru’s grace is important in this upāya. This requires lot of effort and reaching the feet of Guru (Gurupadukā) is the target. Sādhaka, in Śāktopāya, need not recite mantras or concentrate upon any particular spot (Sthānaprakalpana) or breath (Uccāra). He has only to see and concentrate on that Supreme Being that is found in two actions without actions. ‘One-pointedness’ is called Śāktopāya. This is called centering in the “Vijñāna Bhairava Tantra” (“madhyam samāśrayetVijñāna Bhairava Tantra; Verse 61)

Centering can be practiced between any and all actions and or thoughts. In centering, the yogi practising in Śāktopāya must develop great velocity of awareness. Great velocity means firmness of awareness. If Sādhaka’s awareness becomes loose he will be forced out of Śāktopāya into the lowest upāya, Āṇavopāya[2] iv . He will loose the right to tread on the path of Śāktopāya. In his practice there must be in continuity in the cycle of his awareness, maintaining an unbroken chain of awareness and then he will be able to find out the reality between any two thoughts or actions. The practice of centering is meant to be functioned between any two actions or any two thoughts. He can center between any two thoughts or any two movements, between one thought and another thought, between waking and dreaming, between one step and the next step, between one breath and the next breath. All actions and all thoughts are the proper framework for the practice of Śāktopāya. The Śāktopāya aspirant must simply insert breakless awareness in the center of any two actions or thoughts. Faulty awareness and Interruption lead him to fall and enter into the lowest upāya, Āṇavopāya.

The means which exists in the world of mono-duality, in the world where duality and non-duality exist together, is Śāktopāya and is called Bhedābhedopāya.

3) Āṇavopāya

Āṇavopāya is concerned with aṇu, the individual soul. It is the means, which functions by the process of concentrating on uccāra (breathing), karaṇa (organs of sensation), dhyāna (contemplation), and sthāna prakalpana (concentrating on some particular place). These processes in toto are called the means of the individual (upāyas of Jīva), and are the means which exist in Āṇavopāya. It is known as Bhedopāya and is found in the world of duality. Āṇavopāya is called Kriyopāya because it is the means with basis in Kriyā Śakti.

The strength of Sādhakas awareness in Āṇavopāya is that he has to take the support of everything to maintain and strengthen his awareness. ‘Concentration on and with the support of mantra and breathing and all other elements’ is called Āṇavopāya. Though he concentrates on the center he needs to take the support of two things for concentrating on that center. In Śāktopāya his awareness is strengthened to some extent as only one support point is required for his concentration and that point is the center. In Śāktopāya he begins with the center and then get established in that center. The strength of his awareness in Śāmbhavopāya, is that threre is no need of support. He already resides in the meant. There is no where to go, just reside at his own point. The rest is automatic.

All these upāyas lead Sādhaka to the state of one transcendental consciousness. The difference in them is that Āṇavopāya will carry him in a long way, Śāktopāya in a shorter way, and Śāmbhavopāya in the shortest way.


Though it is not actually an upāya, in Kashmir Saivism, apart from these three upāyas, there is a mention of another upāya called Anupāya meaning ‘no upāya’. The aspirant has only to observe that nothing is to be done in Anupāya. Be as you are, If you are talking, go on talking. If you are sitting, go on sitting. Do not do anything, only reside in you being. This is the nature of Anupāya. Anupāya is attributed to Ānanda Śakti of Śiva and is called Ānandopāya.

Footnotes and references:


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 26.


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 180.

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