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The Heart Sūtra (Sanskrit: प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya or Chinese: 心經 Xīnjīng, Tibetan: བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་མ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་སྙིང་པོ) is a popular sutra in Mahāyāna Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the title Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya translates as "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom".
The Sutra famously states, "Form is emptiness (śūnyatā), emptiness is form." It is a condensed exposé on the Buddhist Mahayana teaching of the Two Truths doctrine, which says that ultimately all phenomena are sunyata.
It has been called "the most frequently used and recited text in the entire Mahayana Buddhist tradition." The text has been translated into English dozens of times from Chinese, Sanskrit and Tibetan as well as other source languages.
Summary of the sutra
In the sutra, Avalokiteśvara addresses Śariputra, explaining the fundamental emptiness (śūnyatā) of all phenomena, known through and as the five aggregates of human existence (skandhas): form (rūpa), feeling (vedanā), volitions (saṅkhāra), perceptions (saṃjñā), and consciousness (vijñāna). Avalokiteśvara famously states, "Form is Emptiness (śūnyatā). Emptiness is Form", and declares the other skandhas to be equally empty—that is, dependently originated.
Avalokiteśvara then goes through some of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths, and explains that in emptiness none of these notions apply. This is interpreted according to the two truths doctrine as saying that teachings, while accurate descriptions of conventional truth, are mere statements about reality—they are not reality itself—and that they are therefore not applicable to the ultimate truth that is by definition beyond mental understanding. Thus the bodhisattva, as the archetypal Mahayana Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, defined in the Mahāprajñāpāramitā Sūtra to be the wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment, thereby achieving nirvana.
Popularity and stature
The Heart Sutra is "the single most commonly recited, copied and studied scripture in East Asian Buddhism."[note 2] [note 3] It is recited by adherents of Mahayana schools of Buddhism regardless of sectarian affiliation.: 59–60
While the origin of the sutra is disputed by some modern scholars, it was widely known throughout South Asia (including Afghanistan) from at least the Pala Empire period (c. 750–1200 CE) and in parts of India until at least the middle of the 14th century.: 239, 18–20 [note 4]: 311–319, 308–309 [note 5] The stature of the Heart Sutra throughout early medieval India can be seen from its title 'Holy Mother of all Buddhas Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom': 389 dating from at least the 8th century CE (see Philological explanation of the text).: 15–16 : 141, 142 [note 6]
The long version of the Heart Sutra is extensively studied by the various Tibetan Buddhist schools, where the Heart Sutra is chanted, but also treated as a tantric text, with a tantric ceremony associated with it.: 216–238 It is also viewed as one of the daughter sutras of the Prajnaparamita genre in the Vajrayana tradition as passed down from Tibet.: 67–69 : 2 [note 7][note 8]
The text has been translated into many languages, and dozens of English translations and commentaries have been published, along with an unknown number of informal versions on the internet.[note 9]
There are two main versions of the Heart Sutra: a short version and a long version.
The short version as translated by Xuanzang is the most popular version of adherents practicing East Asian schools of Buddhism. Xuanzang's canonical text (T. 251) has a total of 260 Chinese characters. Some Japanese and Korean versions have an additional 2 characters.: 324, 334 [note 10] The short version has also been translated into Tibetan but it is not part of the current Tibetan Buddhist Canon.
The long version differs from the short version by including both an introductory and concluding section, features that most Buddhist sutras have. The introduction introduces the sutra to the listener with the traditional Buddhist opening phrase "Thus have I heard". It then describes the venue in which the Buddha (or sometimes bodhisattvas, etc.) promulgate the teaching and the audience to whom the teaching is given. The concluding section ends the sutra with thanks and praises to the Buddha.
Dating and origins
Earliest extant versions and references to the Heart Sutra
The earliest extant dated text of the Heart Sutra is a stone stele dated to 661 CE located at Yunju Temple and is part of the Fangshan Stone Sutra. It is also the earliest copy of Xuanzang's 649 CE translation of the Heart Sutra (Taisho 221); made three years before Xuanzang passed away.: 12, 17 [note 11]
A palm-leaf manuscript found at the Hōryū-ji Temple is the earliest undated extant Sanskrit manuscript of the Heart Sutra. It is dated to c. 7th–8th century CE by the Tokyo National Museum where it is currently kept.: 208–209
Source of the Heart Sutra - Nattier controversy
Fukui Fumimasa, Harada Waso, Ishii Kōsei and Siu Sai yau based on their cross-philological study of Chinese and Sanskrit texts of the Heart Sutra and other medieval period Sanskrit Mahayana sutras theorize that the Heart Sutra could not have been composed in China but was composed in India.[note 12]: 43–44, 72–80
Kuiji and Woncheuk were the two main disciples of Xuanzang. Their 7th century commentaries are the earliest extant commentaries on the Heart Sutra; both commentaries, according to Hyun Choo, Harada Waso, Ishii Kosei, Dan Lusthaus, etc., contradict Nattier's Chinese origin theory.: 146–147 [note 13] : 6 [note 14]: 111 [note 15]: 83
Philological explanation of the text
The titles of the earliest extant manuscripts of the Heart Sutra all includes the words "hṛdaya" or "heart" and "prajñāpāramitā" or "perfection of wisdom". Beginning from the 8th century and continuing at least until the 13th century, the titles of the Indic manuscripts of the Heart Sutra contained the words "bhagavatī" or "mother of all buddhas" and "prajñāpāramitā".[note 16]
Later Indic manuscripts have more varied titles.
Titles in use today
In the western world, this sutra is known as the Heart Sutra (a translation derived from its most common name in East Asian countries). But it is also sometimes called the Heart of Wisdom Sutra. In Tibet, Mongolia and other regions influenced by Vajrayana, it is known as The [Holy] Mother of all Buddhas Heart (Essence) of the Perfection of Wisdom.
In the Tibetan text the title is given first in Sanskrit and then in Tibetan: Sanskrit: भगवतीप्रज्ञापारमिताहृदय (Bhagavatīprajñāpāramitāhṛdaya), Tibetan: བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་མ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་སྙིང་པོ, Wylie: bcom ldan 'das ma shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i snying po English translation of Tibetan title: Mother of All Buddhas Heart (Essence) of the Perfection of Wisdom.: 1 [note 17]
In other languages, the commonly used title is an abbreviation of Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasūtraṃ : i.e. The Prajñāhṛdaya Sūtra )(The Heart of Wisdom Sutra). They are as follows: e.g. Korean: Banya Shimgyeong (반야심경 / 般若心經); Japanese: Hannya Shingyō (はんにゃしんぎょう / 般若心経); Vietnamese: Bát-nhã tâm kinh (chữ Nho: 般若心經).
Various commentators divide this text into different numbers of sections. In the long version, there exists the traditional opening "Thus have I heard" and Buddha along with a community of bodhisattvas and monks gathered with Avalokiteśvara and Sariputra at Gridhakuta (a mountain peak located at Rajgir, the traditional site where the majority of the Perfection of Wisdom teachings were given) , when through the power of Buddha, Sariputra asks Avalokiteśvara: xix, 249–271 [note 18] : 83–98 for advice on the practice of the Perfection of Wisdom. The sutra then describes the experience of liberation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara, as a result of vipassanā gained while engaged in deep meditation to awaken the faculty of prajña (wisdom). The insight refers to apprehension of the fundamental emptiness (śūnyatā) of all phenomena, known through and as the five aggregates of human existence (skandhas): form (rūpa), feeling (vedanā), volitions (saṅkhāra), perceptions (saṃjñā), and consciousness (vijñāna).
The specific sequence of concepts listed in lines 12–20 ("...in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, ... no attainment and no non-attainment") is the same sequence used in the Sarvastivadin Samyukta Agama; this sequence differs in comparable texts of other sects. On this basis, Red Pine has argued that the Heart Sūtra is specifically a response to Sarvastivada teachings that, in the sense "phenomena" or its constituents, are real.: 9 Lines 12–13 enumerate the five skandhas. Lines 14–15 list the twelve ayatanas or abodes.: 100 Line 16 makes a reference to the 18 dhatus or elements of consciousness, using a conventional shorthand of naming only the first (eye) and last (conceptual consciousness) of the elements.: 105–06 Lines 17–18 assert the emptiness of the Twelve Nidānas, the traditional twelve links of dependent origination, using the same shorthand as with the eighteen dhatus.: 109 Line 19 refers to the Four Noble Truths.
Avalokiteśvara addresses Śariputra, who was the promulgator of abhidharma according to the scriptures and texts of the Sarvastivada and other early Buddhist schools, having been singled out by the Buddha to receive those teachings.: 11–12, 15 Avalokiteśvara famously states, "Form is empty (śūnyatā). Emptiness is form", and declares the other skandhas to be equally empty of the most fundamental Buddhist teachings such as the Four Noble Truths and explains that in emptiness none of these notions apply. This is interpreted according to the two truths doctrine as saying that teachings, while accurate descriptions of conventional truth, are mere statements about reality—they are not reality itself—and that they are therefore not applicable to the ultimate truth that is by definition beyond mental understanding. Thus the bodhisattva, as the archetypal Mahayana Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, defined in the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra to be the wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment thereby achieving nirvana.
All Buddhas of the three ages (past, present and future) rely on the Perfection of Wisdom to reach unexcelled complete Enlightenment. The Perfection of Wisdom is the all powerful Mantra, the great enlightening mantra, the unexcelled mantra, the unequalled mantra, able to dispel all suffering. This is true and not false. The Perfection of Wisdom is then condensed in the mantra with which the sutra concludes: "Gate Gate Pāragate Pārasamgate Bodhi Svāhā" (literally "Gone gone, gone beyond, gone utterly beyond, Enlightenment hail!"). In the long version, Buddha praises Avalokiteśvara for giving the exposition of the Perfection of Wisdom and all gathered rejoice in its teaching. Many schools traditionally have also praised the sutra by uttering three times the equivalent of "Mahāprajñāpāramitā" after the end of the recitation of the short version.
The Heart Sūtra mantra in Sanskrit IAST is gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā, Devanagari: गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा, IPA: ɡəteː ɡəteː paːɾəɡəteː paːɾəsəŋɡəte boːdʱɪ sʋaːɦaː, meaning "gone, gone, everyone gone to the other shore, awakening, svaha."[note 19]
Buddhist exegetical works
China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam
Two commentaries of the Heart Sutra were composed by pupils of Xuanzang, Woncheuk and Kuiji, in the 7th century.: 60 These appear to be the earliest extant commentaries on the text. Both have been translated into English. Both Kuījī and Woncheuk's commentaries approach the Heart Sutra from both a Yogācāra and Madhyamaka viewpoint; however, Kuījī's commentary presents detailed line by line Madhyamaka viewpoints as well and is therefore the earliest surviving Madhyamaka commentary on the Heart Sutra. Of special note, although Woncheuk did his work in China, he was born in Silla, one of the kingdoms located at the time in Korea.
The chief Tang Dynasty commentaries have all now been translated into English.
There is also a Vietnamese commentarial tradition for the Heart Sutra. The earliest recorded commentary is the early 14th century Thiền commentary entitled 'Commentary on the Prajñāhṛdaya Sutra' by Pháp Loa.: 155, 298 [note 20]
All of the East Asian commentaries are commentaries of Xuanzang's translation of the short version of the Heart Sutra. Kukai's commentary is purportedly of Kumārajīva's translation of the short version of the Heart Sutra;but upon closer examination seems to quote only from Xuanzang's translation.: 21, 36–37
|#||English Title [note 21]||Taisho Tripitaka No.||Author [note 22]||Dates||School|
|1.||Comprehensive Commentary on the Prañāpāramitā Heart Sutra||T1710||Kuiji||632–682 CE||Yogācāra|
|2.||Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sutra Commentary||T1711||Woncheuk or (pinyin :Yuance)||613–692 CE||Yogācāra|
|3.||Brief Commentary on the Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sutra: ||T712||Fazang||643–712 CE||Huayan|
|4.||A Commentary on the Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sutra:||M522||Jingmai||c. 7th century: 7170|
|5.||A Commentary on the Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sutra:||M521||Huijing||715 CE|
|6.||Secret Key to the Heart Sutra: 262–276||T2203A||Kūkai||774–835 CE||Shingon|
|7.||Straightforward Explanation of the Heart Sutra: : 211–224||M542||Hanshan Deqing||1546–1623 CE: 7549||Chan Buddhism|
|8.||Explanation of the Heart Sutra:||M1452 (Scroll 11)||Zibo Zhenke||1543–1603 CE: 5297||Chan Buddhism|
|9.||Explanation of the Keypoints to the Heart Sutra:||M555||Ouyi Zhixu||1599–1655 CE: 6321||Pure Land Buddhism|
|10.||Zen Words for the Heart||B021||Hakuin Ekaku||1686–1768 CE||Zen|
Eight Indian commentaries survive in Tibetan translation and have been the subject of two books by Donald Lopez. These typically treat the text either from a Madhyamaka point of view, or as a tantra (esp. Śrīsiṃha). Śrī Mahājana's commentary has a definite "Yogachara bent". All of these commentaries are on the long version of the Heart Sutra. The Eight Indian Commentaries from the Kangyur are (cf first eight on chart):
|#||English Title[note 23]||Peking Tripitaka No.||Author / Dates|
|1.||Vast Explanation of the Noble Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom||No. 5217||Vimalamitra (b. Western India fl. c. 797 CE – 810 CE)|
|2,||Atīśa's Explanation of the Heart Sutra||No. 5222||Atīśa (b. Eastern India, 982 CE – 1045 CE)|
|3.||Commentary on the 'Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom||No. 5221||Kamalaśīla (740 CE – 795 CE)|
|4.||Commentary on the Heart Sutra as Mantra||No. 5840||Śrīsiṃha (probably 8th century CE): 82 [note 24]|
|5.||Explanation of the Noble Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom||No. 5218||Jñānamitra (c. 10th–11th century CE): 144|
|6.||Vast Commentary on the Noble Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom||No. 5220||Praśāstrasena|
|7.||Complete Understanding of the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom||No. 5223||Śrī Mahājana (probably c. 11th century): 91|
|8.||Commentary on the Bhagavati (Mother of all Buddhas) Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, Lamp of the Meaning||No. 5219||Vajrāpaṇi (probably c. 11th century CE): 89|
|9.||Commentary on the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom||M526||Āryadeva (or Deva) c. 10th century[note 25]|
Besides the Tibetan translation of Indian commentaries on the Heart Sutra, Tibetan monk-scholars also made their own commentaries. One example is Tāranātha's A Textual Commentary on the Heart Sutra.
In modern times, the text has become increasingly popular amongst exegetes as a growing number of translations and commentaries attest. The Heart Sutra was already popular in Chan and Zen Buddhism, but has become a staple for Tibetan Lamas as well.
Selected English translations
The first English translation was presented to the Royal Asiatic Society in 1863 by Samuel Beal, and published in their journal in 1865. Beal used a Chinese text corresponding to T251 and a 9th Century Chan commentary by Dàdiān Bǎotōng (大顛寶通) [c. 815 CE]. In 1881, Max Müller published a Sanskrit text based on the Hōryū-ji manuscript along an English translation.
There are more than 40 published English translations of the Heart Sutra from Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan, beginning with Beal (1865). Almost every year new translations and commentaries are published. The following is a representative sample.
|Geshe Rabten||Echoes of Voidness||Wisdom||Includes the Heart Sutra with Tibetan commentary||1983||ISBN 0-86171-010-X|
|Donald S. Lopez Jr.||The Heart Sutra Explained||SUNY||The Heart Sutra with a summary of Indian commentaries||1987||ISBN 0-88706-590-2|
|Thich Nhat Hanh||The Heart of Understanding
"Translation amended 2014". Retrieved 2017-02-26.
|Parallax Press||The Heart Sutra with a Vietnamese Thiền commentary||1988||ISBN 0-938077-11-2|
|Norman Waddell||Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin's Commentary on the Heart Sutra||Shambhala Publications||Hakuin Ekaku's commentary on Heart Sutra||1996||ISBN 9781570621659|
|Donald S. Lopez Jr.||Elaborations on Emptiness||Princeton||The Heart Sutra with eight complete Indian and Tibetan commentaries||1998||ISBN 0-691-00188-X|
|Edward Conze||Buddhist Wisdom: The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra||Random House||The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra, along with commentaries on the texts and practices of Buddhism||2001||ISBN 978-0375726002|
|Chan Master Sheng Yen||There Is No Suffering: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra||Dharma Drum Publications||Heart Sutra with Modern Commentary on Heart Sutra from Major Chan Master From Taiwan China||2001||ISBN 1-55643-385-9|
|Tetsugen Bernard Glassman||Infinite Circle: Teachings in Zen||Shambhala Publications||Translations and commentaries of The Heart Sutra and The Identity of Relative and Absolute as well as Zen precepts||2003||ISBN 9781590300794|
|Geshe Sonam Rinchen||Heart Sutra: An Oral Commentary||Snow Lion||Concise translation and commentary from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective||2003||ISBN 9781559392013|
|Red Pine||The Heart Sutra: the Womb of Buddhas||Counterpoint||Heart Sutra with commentary||2004||ISBN 978-1593760090|
|14th Dalai Lama||Essence of the Heart Sutra||Wisdom Publications||Heart Sutra with commentary by the 14th Dalai Lama||2005||ISBN 978-0-86171-284-7|
|Geshe Tashi Tsering||Emptiness: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought||Wisdom Publications||A guide to the topic of emptiness from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, with English translation of the Heart Sutra||2009||ISBN 978-0-86171-511-4|
|Geshe Kelsang Gyatso||The New Heart of Wisdom: An explanation of the Heart Sutra||Tharpa Publications||English translation of the Heart Sutra with commentary||2012||ISBN 978-1906665043|
|Karl Brunnholzl||The Heart Attack Sutra: A New Commentary on the Heart Sutra||Shambhala Publications||Modern commentary||2012||ISBN 9781559393911|
|Doosun Yoo||Thunderous Silence: A Formula For Ending Suffering: A Practical Guide to the Heart Sutra||Wisdom Publications||English translation of the Heart Sutra with Korean Seon commentary||2013||ISBN 978-1614290537|
|Kazuaki Tanahashi||The Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism||Shambhala Publications||English translation of the Heart Sutra with history and commentary||2015||ISBN 978-1611800968|
|Peter Lunde Johnson||Delivering the Heart of Transcendental Discernment||An Lac Publications||English translations of all 9 Chinese versions of the sutra and the commentaries on it by Fazang (Huayan School) and Kukai (Shingon School)||2020||ISBN 979-8593119438|
- The Buddhist Audio Visual Production Centre (佛教視聽製作中心) produced a Cantonese album of recordings of the Heart Sūtra in 1995 featuring a number of Hong Kong pop singers, including Alan Tam, Anita Mui and Faye Wong and composer by Andrew Lam Man Chung (林敏聰) to raise money to rebuild the Chi Lin Nunnery.
- Malaysian Imee Ooi (黄慧音) sings the short version of the Heart Sūtra in Sanskrit accompanied by music entitled 'The Shore Beyond, Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutram', released in 2009.
- Composer and recording artist Robert Gass, with his group On Wings of Song, released Heart of Perfect Wisdom in 1990, with two long pieces prominently featuring the "Gate Gate" mantra. This is now available as Heart of Perfect Wisdom / A Sufi Song of Love.
- Hong Kong pop singers, such as the Four Heavenly Kings sang the Heart Sūtra to raise money for relief efforts related to the 921 earthquake.
- A Mandarin version was first performed by Faye Wong in May 2009 at the Famen Temple for the opening of the Namaste Dagoba, a stupa housing the finger relic of Buddha rediscovered at the Famen Temple. She has sung this version numerous times since and its recording was subsequently used as a theme song in the blockbusters Aftershock (2010) and Xuanzang (2016).
- Shaolin Monk Shifu Shi Yan Ming recites the Sutra at the end of the song "Life Changes" by the Wu-Tang Clan, in remembrance of the deceased member ODB.
- The outro of the b-side song "Ghetto Defendant" by the British first wave punk band The Clash also features the Heart Sūtra, recited by American beat poet Allen Ginsberg.
- A slightly edited version is used as the lyrics for Yoshimitsu's theme in the PlayStation 2 game Tekken Tag Tournament. An Indian styled version was also created by Bombay Jayashri, titled Ji Project. It was also recorded and arranged by Malaysian singer/composer Imee Ooi.
- An Esperanto translation of portions of the text furnished the libretto of the cantata La Koro Sutro by American composer Lou Harrison.
- The Heart Sūtra appears as a track on an album of sutras "performed" by VOCALOID voice software, using the Nekomura Iroha voice pack. The album, Syncretism of Shinto and Buddhism by VOCALOID, is by the artist tamachang.
- Toward the end of the opera The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs by Mason Bates the character inspired by Kōbun Chino Otogawa sings part of the Heart Sūtra to introduce the scene in which Steve Jobs weds Laurene Powell at Yosemite in 1991.
- Part of the Sutra can be heard on Shiina Ringo's song 鶏と蛇と豚 (Gate of Living), from her studio album Sandokushi (2019) 
In the centuries following the historical Xuanzang, an extended tradition of literature fictionalizing the life of Xuanzang and glorifying his special relationship with the Heart Sūtra arose, of particular note being the Journey to the West (16th century/Ming dynasty). In chapter nineteen of Journey to the West, the fictitious Xuanzang learns by heart the Heart Sūtra after hearing it recited one time by the Crow's Nest Zen Master, who flies down from his tree perch with a scroll containing it, and offers to impart it. A full text of the Heart Sūtra is quoted in this fictional account.
In the 2003 Korean film Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring, the apprentice is ordered by his Master to carve the Chinese characters of the sutra into the wooden monastery deck to quiet his heart.
The 2013 Buddhist film Avalokitesvara, tells the origins of Mount Putuo, the famous pilgrimage site for Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva in China. The film was filmed onsite on Mount Putuo and featured several segments where monks chant the Heart Sutra in Chinese and Sanskrit. Egaku, the protagonist of the film, also chants the Heart Sutra in Japanese.
In the 2015 Japanese film I Am a Monk, Koen, a twenty-four year old bookstore clerk becomes a Shingon monk at the Eifuku-ji after the death of his grandfather. The Eifuku-ji is the fifty-seventh temple in the eighty-eight temple Shikoku Pilgrimage Circuit. He is at first unsure of himself. However, during his first service as he chants the Heart Sutra, he comes to an important realization.
Bear McCreary recorded four Japanese-American monks chanting in Japanese, the entire Heart Sutra in his sound studio. He picked a few discontinuous segments and digitally enhanced them for their hypnotic sound effect. The result became the main theme of King Ghidorah in the 2019 film Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Influence on western philosophy
Schopenhauer, in the final words of his main work, compared his doctrine to the Śūnyatā of the Heart Sūtra. In Volume 1, § 71 of The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer wrote: "...to those in whom the will [to continue living] has turned and has denied itself, this very real world of ours, with all its suns and Milky Ways, is — nothing." To this, he appended the following note: "This is also the Prajna–Paramita of the Buddhists, the 'beyond all knowledge,' in other words, the point where subject and object no longer exist."
- This is just one interpretation of the meaning of the mantra. There are many others. Traditionally mantras were not translated.
- Pine :
*On p 36-7: "Chen-k'o [Zibo Zhenke or Daguan Zhenke (one of the four great Buddhist Masters of the late Ming Dynasty - member of the Chan sect] says 'This sutra is the principal thread that runs through the entire Buddhist Tripitaka. Although a person's body includes many organs and bones, the heart is the most important.'
- Storch :
*On p 172: "Near the Foguangshan temple in Taiwan, one million handwritten copies of the Heart-sutra were buried in December of 2011. They were interred inside a golden sphere by the seat of a thirty-seven-meter-tall bronze statue of the Buddha; in a separate adjacent stupa, a tooth of the Buddha had been buried a few years earlier. The burial of one million copies of the sutra is believed to having created gigantic karmic merit for the people who transcribed it, as well as for the rest of humanity."
- Lopez Jr.:
* On p 239: "We can assume, at least, that the sutra was widely known during the Pala period (c. 750–1155 in Bengal and c. 750–1199 in Bihar)."
* On pp 18–20 footnote 8: "...it suggests that the Heart Sutra was recited at Vikramalaśīla (or Vikramashila)(located in today's Bihar, India) and Atisa (982 CE – 1054 CE) appears to be correcting his pronunciation [Tibetan monks visiting Vikramalaśīla – therefore also an indication of the popularity of the Heart Sutra in Tibet during the 10th century] from ha rūpa ha vedanā to a rūpa a vedanā to, finally, the more familiar na rūpa na vedanā, saying that because it is the speech of Avalokita, there is nothing wrong to saying na."
*On pp 311–319: Basically Lin states a Kashmiri Buddhist monk Paṇḍit Sahajaśrī arrived in Gansu China around 1355, with a Kashmiri manuscript of the Heart Sutra [etc.] with the intention of going on a pilgrimage to Mount Wutai; this intention is realized in 1369. A Chinese monk named Zhiguang [among others] becomes a disciple of Paṇḍit Sahajaśrī. The Hongwu Emperor grants the title of National Preceptor first to Paṇḍit Sahajaśrī and later Zhiguang. Zhiguang translates the Kashmiri long version of the Heart Sutra into Chinese; several differences exist in this translation compared with previous Chinese translations of the same including one prior Chinese translation from a different Kashmiri text. [In the summer of 1998, this previously forgotten Ming Dynasty translation was inadvertently rediscovered by Lin while he was part a Buddhist delegation from Taiwan visiting Beijing's Peking University Library.]
On pp 308–309: The Heart Sutra was translated multiple times in China. The translators brought texts from various regions of medieval India : Oddiyana [now the Swat valley in Pakistan], Kapisi [now part of Afghanistan], South India, East India and Middle India.
- Lopez Jr.:
Jñānamitra [the medieval Indian monk–commentator c. 10th–11th Century] wrote in his Sanskrit commentary entitled 'Explanation of the Noble Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom' (Āryaprajñāpāramitāhṛdayavyākhyā), "There is nothing in any sutra that is not contained in the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom. Therefore it is called the sutra of sutras."
Jñānamitra also said regarding the Sanskrit title of the Heart Sutra 'bhagavatīprajñāpāramitāhṛdayaṃ' and the meaning of the word bhagavatī,"With regard to [the feminine ending] 'ī', all the buddhas arise from practicing the meaning of the perfection of wisdom. Therefore, since the perfection of wisdom comes to be the mother of all buddhas, [the feminine ending] 'ī' is [used].
- Sonam Gyaltsen Gonta : 在佛教教主釋迦牟尼佛（釋尊）對弟子們講述的眾多教義中，《般若經》在思想層面上是最高的。....而將《大般若經》的龐大內容、深遠幽玄本質，不但毫無損傷反而將其濃縮在極精簡扼要的經文中，除了《般若心經》之外沒有能出其右的了...(transl: Among all the teachings taught by Sakyamuni Buddha to his disciples, the highest is the prajñāpāramitā....there are no works besides the Heart Sutra that even comes close to condensing the vast contents of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra's [the name of a Chinese compilation of complete prajñāpāramitā sutras having 16 sections within it] far-reaching profundity into an extremely concise form without any lost in meaning...
- The Prajñāpāramitā genre is accepted as Buddhavacana by all past and present Buddhist schools with Mahayana affiliation.
- Of special interest is the 2011 Thai translation of the six different editions of the Chinese version of the Heart Sutra under the auspices of Phra Visapathanee Maneepaket 'The Chinese-Thai Mahāyāna Sūtra Translation Project in Honour of His Majesty the King'; an example of the position of the Heart Sutra and Mahayana Buddhism in Theravadan countries.
- Lin 2020:
*On p 324: Xuanzang's abridged version of the Heart Sutra is the one generally used, the version used in China and Korea has 260 characters. But the general version used in Japan has 262 characters [in English translation, the difference is the word 'all' which is in bold font] (namely the line '...leaving behind all confused imagination...')
*On p 334 Prof. Biswadeb Mukherjee said: Korea uses both [260 and 262 character] versions.
- He and Xu:
On page 12 "Based on this investigation, this study discovers ... the 661 CE Heart Sutra located in Fangshan Stone Sutra is probably the earliest extant "Heart Sutra"; [another possibility for the earliest Heart Sutra,] the Shaolin Monastery Heart Sutra commissioned by Zhang Ai on the 8th lunar month of 649 CE [Xuanzang's translated the Heart Sutra on the 24th day of the 5th lunar month in 649 CE]: 21 mentioned by Liu Xihai in his unpublished hand written draft entitled "Record of Engraved Stele's Surnames and Names", [regarding this stone stele, it] has so far not been located and neither has any ink impressions of the stele. It's possible that Liu made a regnal era transcription error. (He and Xu mention there was a Zhang Ai who is mentioned in another stone stele commissioned in the early 8th century and therefore the possibility Liu made a regnal era transcription error;however He and Xu also stated the existence of the 8th century stele does not preclude the possibility that there could have been two different persons named Zhang Ai.): 22–23 The Shaolin Monastery Heart Sutra stele awaits further investigation.": 28
On page 17 "The 661 CE and the 669 CE Heart Sutra located in Fangshan Stone Sutra mentioned that "Tripitaka Master Xuanzang translated it by imperial decree" (Xian's Beilin Museum's 672 CE Heart Sutra mentioned that "Śramaṇa Xuanzang translated it by imperial decree"..."
- Harada's cross-philological study is based on Chinese, Sanskrit and Tibetan texts.
- Choo :
* On p 146–147 [quote from Woncheuk's Prajñāpāramitā Heart Sutra Commentary] "A version [of the Heart Sūtra (in Chinese)] states that "[The Bodhisattva] illuminatingly sees that the five aggregates, etc., are all empty." Although there are two different versions [(in Chinese)], the latter [that is, the new version] is the correct one because the word "etc." is found in the original Sanskrit scripture [of the Heart Sutra] (the Sanskrit scripture refers to the Heart Sutra as this passage is part of the frame section, a part unique to the Heart Sutra and not to be found in any other Prajnaparamita genre text). [The meaning of] "etc." described in the latter [version] should be understood based on [the doctrine of Dharmapāla]."
- Ishii :
* On p 6 "...the Chinese line of 照見五蘊皆空 [this line is equivalent to Choo's translation [The Bodhisattva] illuminatingly sees that the five aggregates are all empty], which never appears in Chinese Prajñāpāramitā literature until the Chinese Hṛdaya..."
* On p 111 footnote 19 "Wonchuk in his "Praises of the Heart Sutra" after commenting on the line "illuminatingly sees that the five skandas are all empty", states "and there is a text which says : 'illuminatingly sees the five skandas, etc. are all empty'. However, there are two texts with the latter one being correct. I checked the Sanskrit manuscript [of the Heart Sutra] and it has 'etc'. Therefore, it should be in accordance with what the latter text says (i.e. etc.) ". Additionally, Kuiji (632-682 CE) in his "Making the Obscure Clear in the Heart Sutra" also comments on the quotation "illuminatingly sees the five skandas, etc. are all empty". Jingmai's (fl. 629-649 CE) "Commentary on the Heart Sutra" and Chikō's (709-780 CE) "A Description of the Meaning of the Prajñāhrdaya Sutra" follows the same pattern. Kūkai's (774-835 CE) "Secret Key to the Heart Sutra" provides special testimony to the association of etc. with Xuanzang's translation of the Heart Sutra while on the other hand, Kūkai also associates the text without etc. with Kumarajiva and which is also the object of his commentary. However, one cannot find the word 'etc.' in any of the quotations in the first commentator Huijing's (578-? CE) "Commentary on the Heart Sutra"; he died before Xuanzang. In addition, this is also the case for any of the quotations found in Fazang's (643–712 CE) "A Brief Commentary on the Heart Sutra"..."
- Some Sanskrit Titles of the Heart Sutra from 8th–13th centuries CE
- āryabhagavatīprajñāpāramitāhṛdayaṃ (Holy Mother of all Buddhas Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom) Sanskrit title of Tibetan translation by unknown translator.
- bhagavatīprajñāpāramitāhṛdayaṃ (Mother of all Buddhas Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom) Sanskrit title of Tibetan translation by Vimalamitra who studied in Bodhgayā (today's Bihar State in North Eastern India) in the 8th century CE.
- āryabhagavatīprajñāpāramitā (Holy Mother of all Buddhas Perfection of Wisdom) Sanskrit title of Chinese translation by Dānapāla who studied in Oddiyana (today's Swat Valley Pakistan near Afghanistan-Pakistan border) in the 11th century CE.
- āryabhagavatīprajñāpāramitā (Holy Mother of all Buddhas Perfection of Wisdom) Sanskrit title of Chinese translation by Dharmalāḍana in the 13th century CE.: 29
- Sonam Gyaltsen Gonta : 直譯經題的「bCom ldan 'das ma」就是「佛母」之意。接下來我們要討論的是「shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i」（般若波羅蜜多）。....講述這個般若波羅蜜的經典有《十萬頌般若》、《二萬五千頌般若》、《八千頌般若》...而將《大般若經》的龐大內容、深遠幽玄本質，不但毫無損傷反而將其濃縮在極精簡扼要的經文中，除了《般若心經》之外沒有能出其右的了，因此經題中有「精髓」兩字。(transl: Directly translating the title "bCom ldan 'das ma" - it has the meaning of "Mother of all Buddhas". Now we will discuss the meaning of "shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i" (prajñāpāramitā).... Describing the prajñāpāramitā, we have the Śatasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra [Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra in 100,000 verses], the Pañcaviṃśatisāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra [Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra in 25,000 verses], Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra [Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra in 8,000 verses]...there are no works besides the Heart Sutra that even comes close to condensing the vast contents of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra's [(the name of a Chinese compilation of complete prajñāpāramitā sutras having 16 sections within it and including the 3 aforementioned sutras)] far-reaching profundity into an extremely concise form without any lost in meaning and therefore the title has the two words ["snying po"] meaning "essence" [or "heart"]
- Powers xix: [Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva's association with the Prajñāpāramitā genre can also be seen in the Saṁdhinirmocana Mahāyāna Sūtra, where Avalokiteśvara asks Buddha about the Ten Bodhisattva Stages and ] Each stage represents a decisive advance in understanding and spiritual attainment. The questioner here is Avalokiteśvara, the embodiment of compassion. The main meditative practice is the six perfections - generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom - the essence of the Bodhisattva's training. (for details pls see pp 249-271)
- There were two waves of transliterations. One was from China which later mainly spread to Korea, Vietnam and Japan. Another was from Tibet. Classical transliterations of the mantra include:
- simplified Chinese: 揭谛揭谛，波罗揭谛，波罗僧揭谛，菩提萨婆诃; traditional Chinese: 揭諦揭諦，波羅揭諦，波羅僧揭諦，菩提薩婆訶; pinyin: Jiēdì jiēdì, bōluójiēdì, bōluósēngjiēdì, pútí sàpóhē
- Vietnamese: Yết đế, yết đế, Ba la yết đế, Ba la tăng yết đế, Bồ đề tát bà ha
- Japanese: 羯諦羯諦、波羅羯諦、波羅僧羯諦、菩提薩婆訶; Japanese pronunciation: Gyatei gyatei haragyatei harasōgyatei boji sowaka
- Korean: 아제 아제 바라아제 바라승아제 모지 사바하; romaja: Aje aje bara-aje baraseung-aje moji sabaha
- Tibetan: ག༌ཏེ༌ག༌ཏེ༌པཱ༌ར༌ག༌ཏེ༌པཱ༌ར༌སཾ༌ག༌ཏེ༌བོ༌དྷི༌སྭཱ༌ཧཱ། (gate gate paragate parasangate bodi soha)
*gives the Vietnamese title of Phap Loa's commentary as 'Bát Nhã Tâm Kinh Khoa Sớ' which is the Vietnamese reading of the Sino-Viet title (also given) '般若心經科疏'. (The English translation is 'Commentary on the Prajñāhṛdaya Sutra'.)
*gives Pháp Loa's name in Chinese as 法螺
- For those interested, the Chinese language titles are as follows:
- For those interested, the CJKV names are as follows:
- 원측; 圓測
- For those interested, the Sanskrit titles are as follows:
- Lopez Jr.:
[Vairocana, a disciple of Srisimha was] ordained by Śāntarakṣita at bSam yas c. 779 CE.
- Zhou 1959 :
(not the famous Āryadeva from the 3rd century CE but another monk with a similar name from c. 10th century)
- e-Museum 2018 Ink on pattra (palmyra leaves used for writing upon) ink on paper Heart Sutra: 4.9x28.0 Dharani: 4.9x27.9/10.0x28.3 Late Gupta period/7–8th century Tokyo National Museum N-8'
- Brunnhölzl 2017.
- McRae 2004, p. 314.
- Pine 2004
- Lusthaus 2003 - While Lusthaus along with Choo, Harada and Ishii agree that Wonchuk consulted with a Sanskrit text of the Heart Sutra, he is unique in his hypothesis that the Sanskrit text may have been the Sanskrit text of the lost Chinese translation by Zhiqian.
- Buswell_Jr. & Lopez_Jr. 2014, p. 657: there is as yet no scholarly consensus on the provenance of the text
- Lopez Jr. 1996
- Lin 2020
- Harada 2010
- Tai 2005
- Sonam Gyaltsen Gonta 2009
- प्रज्ञापारमिताहृदयसूत्र (मिलन शाक्य) [Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra (tr. from Sanskrit to Nepal Bhasa)] (in Nepali). Translated by Shākya, Milan. 2003.
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- 佛經藏經目錄數位資料庫-般若波羅蜜多心經 [Digital Database of Buddhist Tripitaka Catalogues-Prajñāpāramitāhṛdayasūtra]. CBETA (in Traditional Chinese).
【房山石經】No.28《般若波羅蜜多心經》三藏法師玄奘奉詔譯 冊數：2 / 頁數：1 / 卷數：1 / 刻經年代：顯慶六年[公元661年] / 瀏覽：目錄圖檔 [tr to English : Fangshan Stone Sutra No. 28 "Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya Sutra" Tripitaka Master Xuanzang translated by imperial decree Volume 2, Page 1 , Scroll 1 , Engraved 661 CE...]
- He 2017
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- Fukui 1987.
- Ishii 2015.
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Gate gate pāragate pārasamgate bodhi svāhā... The words here do have a literal meaning: "Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone utterly beyond, Enlightenment hail!
- BTTS 2002, p. 46cf bottom of page
- Shih and Lusthaus, 2006
- Hakeda 1972.
- Dreitlein 2011
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cf footnote (b)-refers to Ōtani University (大谷大学) copy (ed.) of Peking Tripitaka which according to Sakurabe Bunkyō, was printed in China 1717/1720.
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北京版。又名嵩祝寺版。清康熙二十二年（1683）據西藏霞盧寺寫本在北京嵩祝寺刊刻，先刻了甘珠爾。至雍正二年（1724）續刻了丹珠爾。早期印本大部為硃刷，也稱赤字版。版片毀於光緒二十六年庚子之役。 (tr. to English: Beijing (Peking Tripitaka) ed., is also known as Songzhu Temple edition. In 1683, Beijing's Songzhu Temple first carved woodblocks for the Kangyur based on manuscripts from Tibet's Xialu Temple (Shigatse's Shalu Monastery). In 1724, they continued with the carving of woodblocks for the Tengyur. The early impressions were in large part, printed in vermilion ink and therefore are also known as the 'Vermilion Text Edition.' The woodblocks were destroyed in 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion.)
- If listing starts with 'M' and followed by number then it can be found in the Manjizoku Tripitaka
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This prelude song was not used in the television series shown in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The mantra as sung here is Tadyatha Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha.
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In the first five minutes, there are two chantings of the Heart Sutra. The first time, Buddhist monks chant in Chinese blessing the making of a statue of Avalokitesvara bodhisattva for the benefit of a disabled prince. (The prince is later healed and becomes the future Emperor Xuānzong.) The second time, we hear the singing of the mantra of the Sanskrit Heart Sutra in the background. Shortly after the Nīlakaṇṭha Dhāraṇī is chanted. The Chinese version of the Eleven-Faced Guanyin Heart Dharani is also chanted. Egaku chants the Heart Sutra in Japanese in a later segment. The film is a loose retelling of the origin of Mount Putuo.
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- ...ist denen, in welchen der Wille sich gewendet und verneint hat, diese unsere so sehr reale Welt mit allen ihren Sonnen und Milchstraßen—Nichts.
- Dieses ist eben auch das Pradschna–Paramita der Buddhaisten, das 'Jenseit aller Erkenntniß,' d.h. der Punkt, wo Subjekt und Objekt nicht mehr sind. (Isaak Jakob Schmidt, "Über das Mahâjâna und Pradschnâ-Pâramita der Bauddhen". In: Mémoires de l'Académie impériale des sciences de St. Pétersbourg, VI, 4, 1836, 145–149;].)
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Translated from Chinese
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- Journey of the Heart Produced by Ravi Verma
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- "Multilingual Edition of The Heart Sutra". Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo. 2022-03-13. Retrieved 2022-03-13. Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, and English versions of The Heart Sutra in sentence-by-sentence reading format; facilitating easy comparison.
- "A Reader's Guide to the Heart Sutra". Shambhala Publications. 2018-09-16. Retrieved 2018-09-18. A guide to some of the important translations and commentaries.
- "The Shorter Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra". Lapis Lazuli Texts. Retrieved 2010-08-30. From the Chinese version attributed to Xuanzang (T251).
- "The Shorter Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra". Sutras Mantras. Retrieved 2017-03-02. From the Chinese version attributed to Kumārajīva (T250).
- "The Longer Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra". Lapis Lazuli Texts. Retrieved 2010-08-30. From the Chinese translation by Prajñā (T253).
- "The Shorter Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra". Fodian. Retrieved 2017-03-02. Conze's translation from his Sanskrit edition (1948, rev. 1967).
- "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom". LamRim.com. Retrieved 2008-03-22. From the Tibetan text.
- The Heart Sutra in English - Translated by Gerhard Herzog. Translation from Chinese, Kaoshiung, Taiwan, 1971.
- Gerhard Herzog: The Heart Sutra The Diamond Sutra. Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 17. August 1971, Seite 5-9.
- National Taiwan University, Digital Library of Buddhist Studies: The Heart Sutra in English - Translated by Gerhard Herzog.