Cidgaganacandrika (study)

by S. Mahalakshmi | 2017 | 83,507 words

This page relates ‘Trika Philosophy (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

Part 2a - Trika Philosophy (Introduction)

Śaivism is classified under two ways as dualistic and non-dualistic. Former refers to the philosophy dealt with in the Śaivasiddhānta and Vīra Śaivism followed in South indian traditions. The latter Non-dualistic philosophy comprises of Kashmir Śaivism.

Śiva concepts are triads such as:

  1. Pati, Pāśa and Paśu;
  2. Śiva, Śakti and Aṇu;
  3. Śiva, Śakti and Nara etc.,

Trinity principle in Kashmir Śaivism is known as Trika Śāstra / Trika sāsana comprising of principles and practice. As the whole thing is transmitted through Guru-Śiṣya lineage it is called Rahasya sampradhāya.

Trika, a concept of Kashmir Śaivism mentions the 3 goddesses Parā, Parāparā and Aparā which are named in the Mālinivijayottata-tantra, a Bhairava Tantra.

Triads which form the basis of Trika are mentioned below.

Śiva, Śakti and Aṇu

Trika Darsaṇa [Darśana?] expounds three essential realities, the Cosmic trinity[1].

  1. The Supreme Transcendent—Śiva,
  2. The Supreme Creative Energy, immanent in creation—Śakti,
  3. The Spiritual Atom, the limited atom or individual—Aṇu (Nara)

Aṇu, a complete image, is a microcosm, miniature of the macrocosm that is in permanent resonance on multiple levels with the macrocosm (universe). The resonance between the microcosm and the macrocosm is Śakti. She is the one who can help Aṇu recover his memory that he is one with Śiva. She being the completely free will of Śiva, Svātantrya Śakti makes this possible.

Śakti trinity

Śakti trinity[2] consists of:

  1. Parā-śakti—supreme energy, Śakti (Being) existing in transcendence,
  2. Parāpara śakti—supreme-unsupreme Śakti, existing both in transcendence and immanence.
  3. Aparā śakti—unsupreme energy, exists in immanence

Trinity of energies of will, knowledge and power of action

Any action of any being, including Śiva, is subject to three fundamental energies:[3]

  1. Icchā Śakti—Energy of will. It appears in the beginning of any action or process.
  2. Jñāna Śakti—Energy of knowledge, by which clear expression of any action appears first in mind, before it is put into action.
  3. Kriyā Śakti—Energy of action.

The trinity of knowledge

  1. Pramātr—Observer, the subject,
  2. Pramāṇa—Means of knowledge,
  3. Prameya—Known, the object.

When Pramātr, Pramāṇa and Prameya[4] become one, the true nature of the world is discovered. This monistic state is the experience by Śiva and perfect yogis of the world.

Three fundamental states of consciousness

  1. Jāgrat—Waking state,
  2. Svapna—Dreaming,
  3. Suṣupti—Dreamless sleep.,

In addition to these three, there is a fourth state known as (turya—the fourth). This fourth state is that of perfect fusion of pramātr, pramāṇa and prameya, also known as superconsciouness, pervading the other three states and existing also outside them[5].

Three-fold spiritual path

Śāmbhavopāya—Path of Śiva, the divine path, unstoppable spiritual aspiration is the characteristic of this short and difficult spiritual path.

Śāktopāya—Path of the Divine Energy, the path of Śakti, the intermediary path; Yogi must be able to perfectly control his emotions and thoughts in this upāya and merge his consciousness with one or more Divine Energies, Śaktis.

Āṇavopāya–Individual’s path, accessible to the limited beings (aṇu); The aspirant must strive to awaken his soul by working with his intellect (Buddhi), subtle breath(Prāṇa), physical body (Sarīra) or exterior objects like yantras or the pictures of Preceptors.

Three levels of the Vāk (speech)

  1. Paśyantī—subtle speech, undifferentiated speech, intuitive language, the seeing word (in the heart),
  2. Madhyamā—mental speech, intermediate speech (in the mind),
  3. Vaikharī—spoken speech (exterior).

Transcendental triadParatrika

  1. Prakāśa (cit, śiva)—Luminosity,
  2. Vimarśa (or spanda)—Dynamism,
  3. Sāmarasya—Homogeneous bliss.

Three types of Trika schools

  1. Abheda—non dualism (Kashmir Śaivism),
  2. Bhedābheda—qualified dualism,
  3. Bheda—dualism (Śaivāgama).

Triad of Īśvara, Jagat and Jīva

This triad[6] is identical to Śiva, Śakti and Aṇu.

  1. Pati—master, lord, Śiva.
  2. Pāśa—bondage, the three malas, Śakti.
  3. Paśu—bonded, animal, the limited soul, Jīvātman.

Three impurities

Mala means impurity, bondage or poison. These impurities are responsible for the limitation of the divine condition. The limited being becomes liberated by transcending them[7].

  1. Āṇavamala—being incomplete, non-full,
  2. Māyāmala—limitation in knowledge, avidyā, illusion,
  3. Kārmamala—limitation in the power of action, wrong—Identification of the doer of action with the limited self instead of Śiva.

Philosophically important distinction of Kashmir Śaivism from the Advaita siddhānta has to be discussed as both are non-dual philosophies which give primacy to Universal Consciousness (Cit or Brahman). Kashmir Śaivism asserts that all things are a manifestation of this Consciousness. Kashmir Śaivism views the phenomenal world (Śakti) as real and existing, with its being in Consciousness (Cit). On the contrary, Advaita Vedanta holds Brahman as inactive(niṣkriyā) and that the phenomenal world is an illusion (māyā). The philosophy of Kashmir Śaivism, also called the Trika, can be seen in contrast to Sankara's Advaita. So much so Krama the other Kashmir Śaivism school advocating monism also advocates the same view.

The goal of Kashmir Śaivism is to merge in Śiva or Universal Consciousness, or realise one’s already existing identity with Śiva, by means of wisdom, yoga and grace.

Footnotes and references:


[Cidgaganacandrikā] Verse 2.


Ibid. Verse 2.


Ibid. Verse 43.


Ibid. Verse 37.


Ibid. Verse 253, 254.


Ibid. Verse 297.


Ibid. Verse 1-3.

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