06 December 2012

Heart Sutra.

ADD 1485 open. Heart Sutra. by jayarava
ADD 1485 open. Heart Sutra., a photo by jayarava on Flickr.

I spent the day transcribing the Heart Sutra found in this manuscript. There really are more than one Heart Sutra - and more than the long and short text as well. This is a variant on the long text.

Ca. 1677 CE. Gold ink on black. Ranjana script. Approx 24 x 7.6 cm. No title. Contains the Heart Sutra along with other dhāraṇī texts (which is where we mostly find the HS in these ms.s). This ms is unusual in that it expands the contractions we normally associate with the HS.


  1. Hello Jayarava

    A beautiful manuscript! where did you find it?

    I was once asked to copy an ancient Tibetan text of the shorter version Heart Sutra, i did so with great care as it was planned to be reproduced for daily prayers at my monastery at the time.

    Sometime later a well known translator called Peter Roberts scrutinized the version i had created and found that comparing the Tibetan original to an even older Sanskrit original, the Tibetan was corrupted in a number of places, leaving my 'beautifully' written text full of red penned alterations, crossed out sections and added missing words, that made me feel i was back at school being marked for an essay.

  2. Hi Tashi

    It is in the collection of the University of Cambridge library. They have about 1600 mss. Most of Buddhist, but there are also Jaina and Vedic texts. Some are now online:

    Each manuscript of the Heart Sutra is different. The idea that there is a "correct" version is probably wishful thinking. The Tibetans did not record a short text in the Tripitaka, only the long text in two versions. You can see one from the Derge Edition. However lots of short texts written in Tibetan scripts were found in Dunhuang.

    I think most people learned it orally, as I did. And then wrote down what they heard, or asked a scribe to write it for them.

    I'm trying to revisit all of the manuscripts used by Edward Conze to create his edition to see what I can see.