Prajñā Pāramitā Hridaya Sūtra


This is the great Prajñā Pāramitā Hridaya Sūtra, or Ultimate Heart’s Wisdom Sutra. Although during his second turning of the Dharma wheel at Rajagriha Buddha gave many sutras on Prajnaparamita or Ultimate Wisdom and emptiness, Prajna Paramita Hridaya sutra contains a concise record on the essence of teachings. It has gained a great popularity and chanted every day in almost all Zen centres and other Mahayana Buddhism centres and temples across the world. Prajnaparamita has also acquired a form and is very often depicted as female Buddha holding books, which symbolizes the enlightened state and ultimate wisdom.

Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, meditating deeply on Perfection of Wisdom, saw clearly that the five aspects of human existence are empty*, and so released himself from suffering. Answering the monk Sariputra, he said this:

Body is nothing more than emptiness;
emptiness is nothing more than body.
The body is exactly empty,
and emptiness is exactly body.

The other four aspects of human existence --
feeling, thought, will, and consciousness --
are likewise nothing more than emptiness,
and emptiness nothing more than they.

All things are empty:
Nothing is born, nothing dies,
nothing is pure, nothing is stained,
nothing increases and nothing decreases.

So, in emptiness, there is no body,
no feeling, no thought,
no will, no consciousness.
There are no eyes, no ears,
no nose, no tongue,
no body, no mind.
There is no seeing, no hearing,
no smelling, no tasting,
no touching, no imagining.
There is nothing seen, nor heard,
nor smelled, nor tasted,
nor touched, nor imagined.

There is no ignorance,
and no end to ignorance.
There is no old age and death,
and no end to old age and death.
There is no suffering, no cause of suffering,
no end to suffering, no path to follow.
There is no attainment of wisdom,
and no wisdom to attain.

The Bodhisattvas rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and so with no delusions,
they feel no fear,
and have Nirvana here and now.

All the Buddhas,
past, present, and future,
rely on the Perfection of Wisdom,
and live in full enlightenment.

The Perfection of Wisdom is the greatest mantra.
It is the clearest mantra,
the highest mantra,
the mantra that removes all suffering.

This is truth that cannot be doubted.
Say it so:
Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté. Bodhi! Svaha!
Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté. Bodhi! Svaha!
Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté. Bodhi! Svaha!

Which means...
gone over,
gone fully over.
So be it!

The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom

(translated line by line directly from Sanskrit)

Oṁ! Namo Bhagavatyai Ārya-Prajñāpāramitāyai!
Hail! Reverence to the Gracious and Noble Perfection of Wisdom


Ārya-Avalokiteśvaro Bodhisattvo,
The Noble Buddha-to-be Avalokiteśvara,

gambhīrāṁ prajñāpāramitā caryāṁ caramāṇo,
while dwelling deep in the practice of the perfection of wisdom,

vyavalokayati sma panca-skandhāṁs
beheld these five constituent groups (of mind and body)

tāṁś ca svabhāvaśūnyān paśyati sma.
and saw them empty of self-nature.


Iha, Śāriputra, rūpaṁ śūnyatā, śūnyataiva rūpaṁ;
Here, Śāriputra, form is emptiness, emptiness is surely form;

rūpān na pṛthak śūnyatā, śunyatāyā na pṛthag rūpaṁ;
emptiness is not different from form, form is not different from emptiness;

yad rūpaṁ, sā śūnyatā; ya śūnyatā, tad rūpaṁ;
whatever form there is, that is emptiness; whatever emptiness there is, that is form.

evam eva vedanā-saṁjñā-saṁskāra-vijñānaṁ.
the same for feelings, perceptions, volitional processes and consciousness.


Iha, Śāriputra, sarva-dharmāḥ śūnyatā-lakṣaṇā,
Here, Śāriputra, all things have the characteristic of emptiness,

anutpannā, aniruddhā; amalā, avimalā; anūnā, aparipūrṇāḥ.
no arising, no ceasing; no purity, no impurity; no deficiency, no completeness.


Tasmāc Śāriputra, śūnyatāyāṁ
Therefore, Śāriputra, in emptiness

na rūpaṁ, na vedanā, na saṁjñā, na saṁskārāḥ, na vijñānam;
there is no form, no feeling, no perception, no volitional processes, no consciousness;

na cakṣuḥ-śrotra-ghrāna-jihvā-kāya-manāṁsi;
there are no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body or mind;

na rūpa-śabda-gandha-rasa-spraṣṭavya-dharmāh;
no forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, thoughts;

na cakṣūr-dhātur yāvan na manovijñāna-dhātuḥ;
no eye-element (and so on) up to no mind-consciousness element;

na avidyā, na avidyā-kṣayo yāvan na jarā-maraṇam, na jarā-maraṇa-kṣayo;
no ignorance, no destruction of ignorance (and so on) up to no old age and death, no destruction of old age and death;

na duḥkha-samudaya-nirodha-mārgā;
no suffering, arising, cessation, path;

na jñānam, na prāptir na aprāptiḥ.
no knowledge, no attainment, no non-attainment.


Tasmāc Śāriputra, aprāptitvād Bodhisattvasya
Therefore, Śāriputra, because of the Buddha-to-be’s non-attainments

Prajñāpāramitām āśritya, viharaty acittāvaraṇaḥ,
he relies on the Perfection of Wisdom, and dwells with his mind unobstructed,

cittāvaraṇa-nāstitvād atrastro,
having an unobstructed mind he does not tremble,

viparyāsa-atikrānto, niṣṭhā-Nirvāṇa-prāptaḥ.
overcoming opposition, he attains the state of Nirvāṇa.


Tryadhva-vyavasthitāḥ sarva-Buddhāḥ
All the Buddhas abiding in the three times

Prajñāpāramitām āśritya
through relying on the Perfection of Wisdom

anuttarāṁ Samyaksambodhim abhisambuddhāḥ.
fully awaken to the unsurpassed Perfect and Complete Awakening.

Tasmāj jñātavyam Prajñāpāramitā mahā-mantro,
Therefore one should know the Perfection of Wisdom is a great mantra,

mahā-vidyā mantro, ’nuttara-mantro, samasama-mantraḥ,
a great scientific mantra, an unsurpassed mantra, an unmatched mantra,

sarva duḥkha praśamanaḥ, satyam, amithyatvāt.
the subduer of all suffering, the truth, not falsehood.


Prajñāpāramitāyām ukto mantraḥ tad-yathā:
In the Perfection of Wisdom the mantra has been uttered in this way:

gate, gate, pāragate, pārasaṁgate, Bodhi, svāhā!
gone, gone, gone beyond, gone completely beyond, Awakening, blessings!


Iti Prajñāpāramitā-Hṛdayam Samāptam
Thus the Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom is Complete