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The Heart Sūtra (Sanskrit: Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya; Chinese: 般若波羅蜜多心經) is an early Mahayana sutra that is popular for its brevity and depth of meaning. The full Sanskrit title, Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya, can be translated as "Heart of the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom." The Heart Sūtra is considered one of the best known and most popular of the Mahayana sutras.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Translations
- 3 Full English translation from the Tibetan text
- 4 Other English translations avaiable online
- 5 Origin and early translations
- 6 The text
- 7 Mantra
- 8 Gallery
- 9 See also
- 10 Notes
- 11 References
- 12 Further reading
- 13 External links
The Heart Sūtra is a member of the Perfection of Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā) group of Mahayana sutras, and along with the Diamond Sūtra, is perhaps the most prominent representative of the genre.
The Heart Sūtra is made up of 14 shlokas in Sanskrit; a shloka composed of 32 syllables. In Chinese, it is 260 Chinese characters, while in English it is composed of sixteen sentences. This makes it one of the shortest of the Perfection of Wisdom texts, which exist in various lengths up to 100,000 shlokas.
This sutra is classified by Edward Conze as belonging to the third of four periods in the development of the Perfection of Wisdom canon, although because it contains a mantra (sometimes called a dharani), it does overlap with the final, tantric phase of development according to this scheme, and is included in the tantra section of at least some editions of the Kangyur. Conze estimates the sutra's date of origin to be 350 CE; some others consider it to be two centuries older than that. Recent scholarship is unable to verify any date earlier than the 7th century CE.
The Chinese version is frequently chanted (in the local pronunciation) by the Chan (Zen/Seon/Thiền) sects during ceremonies in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam respectively. It is also significant to the Shingon Buddhist school in Japan, whose founder Kūkai wrote a commentary on it, and to the various Tibetan Buddhist schools, where it is studied extensively.
The sūtra is in a small class of sūtras not attributed to the Buddha. In some versions of the text, starting with that of Fayue dating to about 735, the Buddha confirms and praises the words of Avalokiteśvara, although this is not included in the preeminent Chinese version translated by Xuanzang. The Tibetan canon uses the longer version, although Tibetan translations without the framing text have been found at Dunhuang.
Both long and short versions exist in Sanskrit.
Full English translation from the Tibetan text
|This translation of the text Heart Sutra is published by Lotsawa House under license CC-by-NC 3.0. Translation by Adam Pearcy.|
Other English translations avaiable online
Translations from the Chinese language
- "The Shorter Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra". Lapis Lazuli Texts. Retrieved 2010-08-30. From the Chinese translation by Xuanzang (T08n251).
- "The Longer Prajñāpāramitā Hṛdaya Sūtra". Lapis Lazuli Texts. Retrieved 2010-08-30. From the Chinese translation by Prajñā (T08n253).
- "The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra". Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. Retrieved 2008-03-22. From the Chinese translation by Tang master Hsüan-Tsang
Translations from the Tibetan language
- Heart Sutra
- "The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom". LamRim.com. Retrieved 2008-03-22. From the Tibetan text.
Origin and early translations
Some scholars suggest that the Heart Sūtra is likely to have been composed in the 1st century CE in Kushan Empire territory, by a Sarvastivadin or ex-Sarvastivadin monk. The earliest record of a copy of the sūtra is a 200-250CE Chinese version attributed to the Yuezhi monk Zhi Qian. It was supposedly translated again by Kumarajiva around 400CE, although John McRae and Jan Nattier have argued that this translation was created by someone else, much later, based on Kumarajiva's Large Sūtra. Zhi Qian's version, if it ever existed, was lost before the time of Xuanzang, who produced his own version in 649CE, which closely matches the one attributed to Kumarajiva. Xuanzang's version is the first record of the title "Heart Sūtra" (心經 xīnjīng) being used for the text, and Fukui Fumimasa has argued that xinjing actually means dharani scripture. According to Huili's biography, Xuanzang learned the sutra from an inhabitant of Sichuan, and subsequently chanted it during times of danger in his journey to the West.
However, based on textual patterns in the Sanskrit and Chinese versions of the Heart Sūtra and the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, scholar Jan Nattier has suggested that the earliest (shortest) version of the Heart Sūtra was probably first composed in China in the Chinese language from a mixture of Indian-derived material and new composition, and that this assemblage was later translated into Sanskrit (or back-translated, in the case of most of the sūtra). She argues that the majority of the text was redacted from the Larger Sutra on the Perfection of Wisdom, which had originated with a Sanskrit Indian original, but that the "framing" passages (the introduction and concluding passages) were new compositions in Chinese by a Chinese author, and that the text was intended as a dharani rather than a sūtra. The Chinese version of the core (i.e. the short version) of the Heart Sūtra matches a passage from the Large Sutra almost exactly, character by character; but the corresponding Sanskrit texts, while agreeing in meaning, differ in virtually every word. Furthermore, Nattier argues that there is no evidence (such as a commentary would be) of a Sanskrit version before the 8th century CE, and she dates the first evidence (in the form of commentaries by Xuanzang's disciples Kuiji and Wonch'uk, and Dunhuang manuscripts) of Chinese versions to the 7th century CE. She considers attributions to earlier dates "extremely problematic". In any case, the corroborating evidence supports a Chinese version at least a century before a Sanskrit version. This theory has gained support amongst some other prominent scholars of Buddhism, but is by no means universally accepted.
The Zhi Qian version is titled Po-jo po-lo-mi shen-chou i chuan or Prajnaparamita Dharani; the Kumarajiva version is titled Mo-ho po-jo po-lo-mi shen-chou i chuan or Maha Prajnaparamita Mahavidya Dharani. Xuanzang's was the first version to use Hrdaya or "Heart" in the title.
Despite the common name Heart Sūtra, the word sūtra is not present in known Sanskrit manuscripts. Xuanzang's was also the first version to call the text a sutra. No extant Sanskrit copies use this word, though it has become standard usage in Chinese and Tibetan, as well as English.
Some citations of Zhi Qian's and Kumarajiva's versions prepend moho (which would be maha in Sanskrit) to the title. Some Tibetan editions add bhagavatī, meaning "Victorious One" or "Conqueror", an epithet of Prajnaparamita as goddess.
In the Tibetan text the title is given first in Sanskrit and then in Tibetan:
- Sanskrit: 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: Bhagavatī Heart of Perfect Wisdom
Various commentators divide this text in different numbers of sections. Briefly, the sutra describes the experience of liberation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteśvara, as a result of insight gained while engaged in deep meditation to awaken the faculty of prajña (wisdom). The insight refers to the fundamental emptiness of all phenomena, the five aggregates of human existence (skandhas): form (rūpa), feeling (vedanā), volitions (samskārā), perceptions (saṁjñā), 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 the texts of other sects. On this basis, Red Pine has argued that the Heart Sūtra is specifically a response to Sarvastivada teachings that dharmas are real. Lines 12-13 enumerate the five skandhas. Lines 14-15 list the twelve ayatanas or abodes. Line 16 makes a reference to the eighteen dhatus or elements of consciousness, using a conventional shorthand of naming only the first (eye) and last (conceptual consciousness) of the elements. Lines 17-18 assert the emptiness of the Twelve Nidānas, the traditional twelve links of dependent origination. Line 19 refers to the Four Noble Truths.
Avalokiteśvara addresses Śariputra, who was, according to the scriptures and texts of the Sarvastivada and other early Buddhist schools, the promulgator of abhidharma, having been singled out by the Buddha to receive those teachings. Avalokiteśvara famously states that, "Form is empty (Śūnyatā). Emptiness is form." and declares the other skandhas to be equally empty – that is, empty of an independent essence. 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 concept of smaran 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 our comprehending. Thus the bodhisattva, as the archetypal Mahāyāna Buddhist, relies on the perfection of wisdom, defined in the larger Perfection of Wisdom sutra to be the wisdom that perceives reality directly without conceptual attachment. This perfection of wisdom is condensed in the mantra with which the sutra concludes.
It is unusual for Avalokiteśvara to be in the central role in a Prajñāpāramitā text. Early Prajñāpāramitā texts involve Subhuti, who is absent from both versions of the Heart Sūtra, and the Buddha who is only present in the longer version. This could be considered evidence that the text is Chinese in origin.
Jan Nattier points out in her article on the origins of the Heart Sūtra that this mantra in several variations is present in the Chinese Tripiṭaka associated with several different Prajñāpāramitā texts. The version in the Heart Sūtra runs:
- Sanskrit IAST: gate gate pāragate pārasaṃgate bodhi svāhā
- Sanskrit Devanāgarī: गते गते पारगते पारसंगते बोधि स्वाहा
- Sanskrit IPA: ɡəteː ɡəteː paːɾəɡəteː paːɾəsəŋɡəte boːdʱɪ sʋaːɦaː
- Chinese: 揭諦揭諦 波羅揭諦 波羅僧揭諦 菩提娑婆訶
- Korean: 아제아제 바라아제 바라승아제 모지사바하
- Tibetan: ག༌ཏེ༌ག༌ཏེ༌པཱ༌ར༌ག༌ཏེ༌པཱ༌ར༌སཾ༌ག༌ཏེ༌བོ༌དྷི༌སྭཱ༌ཧཱ།
In the traditions of Chinese Buddhism in the Sinosphere, it is said that the Indian masters who came to China to translate Sanskrit texts never translated mantras into Chinese because they knew this could not be done. They also held that it was impossible to explain the esoteric meanings of the mantras in words. It is said that when a devotee succeeds in realizing singleness of mind (samādhi) by repeating a mantra, then its profound meaning will be clearly revealed to him or her.
Each Buddhist tradition with an interest in the Heart Sūtra seems to have its own interpretation of the sūtra, and therefore of the mantra. As Alex Wayman commented:
One feature of these commentaries [in Tibetan] on the Heart Sūtra struck me quite forcibly: each commentary seemed so different to the others, and yet they all seemed to show in greater or lesser degree the influence of the Mādhyamika school of Buddhist philosophy.
Donald Lopez goes further to suggest:
The question still remains of the exact function of the mantra within the sutra, because the sutra provides no such explanation and the sadhanas make only perfunctory references to the mantra.
Tibetan exegesis of the mantra tends to look back on it from a Tantric point of view. For instance seeing it as representing progressive steps along the five paths of the Bodhisattva, through the two preparatory stages (the path of accumulation and preparation – gate, gate), through the first part of the first bhumi (path of insight – pāragate), through the second part of the first to the tenth bhumi (path of meditation – Pārasamgate), and to the eleventh bhumi (stage of no more learning – bodhi svāhā).
The current Dalai Lama explains the mantra in a discourse on the Heart Sutra both as an instruction for practice and as a device for measuring one's own level of spiritual attainment, and translates it as go, go, go beyond, go thoroughly beyond, and establish yourself in enlightenment. In the discourse, he gives a similar explanation to the four stages (the four go's) as in the previous paragraph.
Sanskrit text of the Heart Sūtra, in the Siddhaṃ script. Replica of a palm-leaf manuscript dated to 609 CE.
Chinese text of the Heart Sūtra, by scholar and calligrapher Ouyang Xun, dated 635 CE.
- Pine 2004, pg. 16
- Pine 2004, pg. 18
- Nattier 1992, pg. 153
- Taisho Tripitaka Vol. T08 No. 251, attributed to Xuanzang.
- Conze 1960
- Lopez 1988, pg. 5
- Nattier 1992
- Pine 2004 pg. 26
- Nattier 1992, pg. 200
- Perfection of Wisdom
- Pine 2004, pg. 21
- Nattier 1992, pp. 184-9
- Pine 2004, pg. 22-26
- Pine 2004, pg. 8
- Fukui 1987
- Nattier 1992, pp. 175-6
- Nattier 1992, pp. 179-80
- Buswell 2003, page 314
- Pine 2004, pg. 23
- Nattier 1992, pp. 159, 167
- Nattier 1992, pg. 173
- Nattier 1992, pp. 173-4
- Pine 2004, pg. 25
- Nattier 1992, pg. 183
- Pine 2004, pg. 20
- Pine 2004, pg. 36
- Pine 2004, pg. 39
- Pine 2004, pg. 35
- Pine 2004, pg. 9
- Pine 2004, pg. 100
- Pine 2004, pp. 105-6
- Pine 2004, pg. 109
- Pine 2004, pp. 11-12, 15
- Nattier 1992, pg. 156
- Luk 1991 pg. 85
- Wayman 1990, p.136
- Lopez 1990 p.120.
- Buswell, Robert E. (ed). Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2003) MacMillan Reference Books. ISBN 0-02-865718-7
- Conze, Edward. Buddhist Wisdom Books: Containing the "Diamond Sutra" and the "Heart Sutra" (New edition). Thorsons, 1975. ISBN 0-04-294090-7
- Conze, Edward. Prajnaparamita Literature (2000) Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers ISBN 81-215-0992-0 (originally published 1960 by Mouton & Co.)
- Fukui Fumimasa 福井 文雅 (1987) (in Japanese). Hannya shingyo no rekishiteki kenkyu 般若心経の歴史的研究. 東京: Shunjusha 春秋社. ISBN 4-393-11128-1
- Lopez, Donald S., Jr. The Heart Sutra Explained: Indian and Tibetan Commentaries (1988) State Univ of New York Pr. ISBN 0-88706-589-9
- Luk, Charles. The Secrets of Chinese Meditation (1991) Samuel Weiser. ISBN 978-0877280668
- Nattier, Jan. 'The Heart Sūtra: A Chinese Apocryphal Text?'. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Vol. 15 (2) 1992. p. 153-223.
- Pine, Red. The Heart Sutra: The Womb of the Buddhas (2004) Shoemaker 7 Hoard. ISBN 1-59376-009-4
- Wayman, Alex. 'Secret of the Heart Sutra.' in Buddhist insight: essays Motilal Banarsidass Publ., 1990. pp. 307–326. ISBN 81-208-0675-1.
- Geshe Sonam Rinchen. Heart Sutra: An Oral Commentary Snow Lion Publications http://www.snowlionpub.com/html/product_6838.html
- Conze, Edward (translator) (1984). Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines & Its Verse Summary. Grey Fox Press. ISBN 978-0877040491.
- Lopez, Donald (1990). The Heart Sutra Explained. South Asia Books. ISBN 978-8170302384.
- Nhat Hanh, Thich (1988). The Heart of Understanding. Berkeley, California: Parallax Press. ISBN 978-0938077114.
- Porter, Bill (Red Pine) (2004-08-31). The Heart Sutra: The Womb of Buddhas. Shoemaker & Hoard. ISBN 978-1593760090.
- Waddell, Norman (1996-07-15). Zen Words for the Heart: Hakuin's Commentary on the Heart Sutra. Boston, Massachusetts: Shambhala. ISBN 978-1570621659.
- The Dalai Lama (2005). Essence of the Heart Sutra:The Dalai Lama's Heart of Wisdom Teachings. Boston Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications. ISBN 978-0-86171-284-7
- Hasegawa, Seikan (1975). The Cave of Poison Grass: Essays on the Hannya Sutra. Arlington, Virginia: Great Ocean Publishers. ISBN 0-915556-00-6.
- Fox, Douglass (1985). The Heart of Buddhist Wisdom: A Translation of the Heart Sutra With Historical Introduction and Commentary. Lewiston/Queenston Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press. ISBN 0-88946-053-1.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- "Master Hsing Yun at UWest - Class 1A". Retrieved 2008-03-22. A YouTube video of a 47-minute discourse by Hsing Yun
- Dr. Yutang Lin: The Unification of Wisdom and Compassion
|This article includes content from the May 2014 revision of Heart Sutra on Wikipedia ( view authors). License under CC BY-SA 3.0.|