Cidgaganacandrika (study)

by S. Mahalakshmi | 2017 | 83,507 words

This page relates ‘Krama system (Introduction)’ 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

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.

Part 1a - Krama system (Introduction)

Awareness of Krama system was brought about by Arthor Avalon when he focussed his attention on Kashmir School of philosophy. We owe our thanks to him as the present text under study “Cidgagana-Candrika” belonging to Kashmir school of philosophy, is made available to us due to his efforts in this area.

Significance and concepts of Krama

Krama system has triple significance. It is a—

  1. Tāntric system,
  2. Monistic Śaiva system[1],
  3. Emergence of Śākta tendency in Śaiva philosophy[2].

Krama system deals with a synthesis of the Śaiva philosophy, the Śākta esotericism and Tāntric concepts of life. It is a fine philosophical system dealing with epistemic and ontological matters and also deals with the esoteric discipline of Spirituality contained in the Tāntric culture.

Monistic Śaiva thoughts can be classified under two classes—Traiyambaka and Ardhatraiyambaka. Kula is Ardhatraiyambaka. Krama, Trika and Pratyabhijñā belong to Traiyambaka.

The important concepts, exclusively belonging to Krama, are Pāduka, Bhāsa, Kalana and Krama. Krama concepts of the Absolute as Kāli, the supreme Absolutic function called Anākhyā, the progressive character of manifestations as logical thought construction called Vikalpa and the Six-fold yogic processes correspond to notions of Kālasaṃkarṣiṇī/Kāla-Śakti, Śūnya, Śabdapūrva yoga, Āpohanā and Ṣaḍaṅga yoga.

Krama as Tāntric system

Krama system being nurtured under āgamic influence, had Tāntric character from the very beginning but its philosophical and mystic side enjoyed more attention. Latter side gradually became subservient to Tāntric demands.

The Monistic stream got split into two paths. First is Tantra Prakriyā advocated by Traiyambaka, and the second is Kula Prakriyā associated with Ardhatriambaka. Kula is identified as Ardhatriambaka line of thought. Other monistic systems viz., Trika, Krama and Pratyabhijñā are grouped in the Tantra-Prakriya or Triambaka school. Monistic Śaiva thought of Kashmir generally called Ṣaḍardha-Krama-vijñāna comes under the Triambaka school. Thus Trika and Krama though having different secular history seem to be one in their origin.

There is, generally, a close affinity between Krama and Trika. The idea that Krama culminates in the Kula system is more due to the final spiritual possibilities of the Krama than to their apparent structure. The identity between Krama and Trika systems ensues from their present character. [Abhinavagupta] learnt Krama from the very lineage of Gurus, led by Somānanda, who taught him Trika and Pratyabhijñā. For Kula he had an entirely different lineage of Gurus culminating in Śambhunātha, the author of Kramasṛṣṭi.

Krama is Śakti-oriented

Krama system seems to reflect a gradual emergence of Śākta tendencies in monistic Kashmir Śaivism. Two schools of the system are there, based upon the supremacy of the Śiva aspect and the Śakti aspect of the the Absolute. Krama is Śakti-oriented[3]. Kula, Pratyabhijñā and Trika are Śiva- oriented. Spanda having a greater emphasis for the Dynamic aspect of Absolute(Śakti) is via-media of the two schools. Krama is a Tāntric system. [Abhinavagupta] in his [Tantrāloka] announces Krama as unique system while dealing with Śāktopāya.

Unity in Duality

The emphasis on the idea of dualism/diversity within the ambience of monism earns a designation Bhedābheda upāya to the spiritual discipline under Krama. Krama brings out the unity in the phenomenal duality as an intrinsic tendency or character(Bhede abheda:- unity in diversity). Krama relates more to the immanent reality and interprets immanence as the essential expression of transcendence[4]. Krama system regards the concept of duality or non-duality of Absolute as irrelavant. Hence it is against the concepts of Bandha versus Mokṣa.

[Śāktopāya (spiritual progression)]

Mokṣa as a synthesis of Bhoga and Mokṣa

Theory of the refinement of thought-constructs (Vikalpa-Saṃskāra) for self-realisation, the Tāntric ideal, as synthesis of Bhoga and Mokṣa (Bhoga-Mokṣa-sāmarasya){GL_NOTE::} is attainable in Krama system only. Krama, gives equal emphasis on each and every step of self-realisation as an embodiment of spirituality through the theory of progressive refinement of Vikalpas. The image of Krama system is understood by learning the concept of the Sāmarasya of Dhāma-Varṇa (Name and form) and Cit (Consciousness).

Functions of Absolute

Slight modification of the five functions of the Absolute viz Srsti, Sthiti, Saṃhāra, Tirodhāna and Anugraha as extolled by Tāntric āgamas and other schools of Kashmir Śaivism are made in Krama by terming the last two functions as Anākhya and Bhāsa.

Emphasis on the Cognitive experience

Krama system places positive emphasis on the epistemic side of our experience which forms its special character.

Footnotes and references:


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 1.


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 2.


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 7.


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 8.

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