Short Text · Tibetan Texts

Tibetan Short Text (TS1)


The short text of the Heart Sutra is not included in the Kanjur, but about three hundred manuscripts of the text were found at Dunhuang. The manuscript transcribed here, British Library Or.8212/77 is one that Jan Nattier called “representative” (Personal communication). A hi-res image can be found on the IDP Website.  An image of this text also appears in Zwalf, W. (1985). Buddhism, Art and Faith. London: British Museum.

Jan Nattier (1992) mentions doing some preliminary work, with John McRae, on the Dunhuang manuscripts, but this never saw the light of day (McRae died in 2011). In 2010, Ben Nourse gave a paper to the North American Graduate Students Conference on Buddhist Studies, Toronto, Canada on the texts, outlining some early findings of his investigation (my thanks to Ben for supplying me with a copy of his paper).

Transcription by Joy Vriens. Many thanks.


Paragraph letters from Silk’s critical edition of the Long Text in the Kangyur.

༄ Rgya gar skad du a rya phrad nya pa ri myi ta rhi da yah[1]//

//bod skad du ’phags pa shes rab gyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i snying po bam po gcig[2] go/ thams cad mkhyen pa nyid la phyag ’tshal lo// ’di lta ’phags pa kun tu spyan ras gzigs gyi dbang po byang chub sems dpa’ shes rab gyi pha rol tu phyin pa zab mo dpyad spyod pa’i tshe// lnga phung[3] de dag ngo bo nyid gyis stong par mthong ngo//

J. de ni sha ri ’i gzugs stong pa nyid do// stong pa nyid kyang gzugs so// gzugs dang stong pa nyid tha dad pa yang ma yin// gzugs dang tha myi dad do// gag (ga ga ?[4]) gzugs pa de stong pa nyid// gag stong pa nyid pa de gzugs te// de bzhin du tshor ba dang*/ ’du she dang*/ ’du byed dang*/ rnam par shes pa’o//

K. ’di ni sha ri’i bo chos thanms cad stong pa nyid gyi mtshan ma ste// myi skyes myi ’gog// myi gtsangs myi brnyog/ myi ’phel myi ’dri/

L. de ltar bsam na sha ri’i bu stong pa nyid la gzugs kyang myed/ tshor ba yang myed/ ’du shes kyang myed/ ’du byed kyang med/ rnam par shes pa yang myed/ myig dang */ rna ba dang*/ sna dang lce gang lus dang yid kyang myed// kha dog[5] dang*/ sgra dang*/ dri dang ros[6] dang reg dang*//chos kyang myed 

M. myig gi khams nas yid gyi khams su yang myed/ rig pa yang myed/

N. ma rig pa yang myed/ rig pa zad pa yang myed/ ma rig pa zad pa yang myed[7]/ rga shis shi ba yang myed/rga shing shi ba yang zad pa yang myed/

O. sdug bsngal ba dang*/ ’dus pa dang ’gog pa dang*[8]// lam yang myed/ shes pa yang myed/ thob pa yang myed/ ma thob pa yang myed/

P. par byang chub sems dpa’ [rnams thob pa med pa’i phyir| [8a]] shes rab gyi pha rol tu phyin pa la gnas ni/ sangs rgyas pas sems skyod pa yang myed sems myi skyod pa yang myed[9]/ de ltar myed pa la gnas/ na logs pa la shin tu ’das te/ / thub pa ni myang na las ’das pa’o//

Q. dus gsum du rnams par bzhugs pa’i sangs rgyas thams cad kyang shes rab gyi pha rol tu phyin pa lam gnas te/ spyod pas/ bla nas myed pa gyung drug tu[10] rdzogs pa’i sa byang chub kun tu mngon par sangs rgyas so//

R. de bas nas shes rab gyi pha rol phyin pa chen po’i sngags// bla na myed pa’i sngags// mnyam pa dang myi mnyam pa’i sngags/ sdug sngal thams cad/ rab tu zhi ba’i sngags/ bden te myi brdzun bas na/ shes rab gyi pha rol tu phyin pa’i sngags {ma} smras so//

S. sngags la (deleted : thya) tad thya tha/’ga’ te ’ga’ te pa ra ’ga’ te/ pa ra sang ’ga’ te/ bho de swā hā//

%% %%//ling hi lha ’dus bris/  (Signature of the scribe)

Some wrong particles according to preceding suffix, the old spelling for the negation particles (myi, mya, myed instead of mi, ma and med). The first part of the name of the scribe sounds Chinese, the second part could be Tibetan, lha ’dus meaning gathering of gods.


[1] The transcription of the Sanskrit is not like the standard one. Also in the dharani.

[2] In one section.

[3] In Tibetan the number would follow : phung po lnga. This is very unusual and perhaps points to a language version where the number precedes the name.

[4] Perhaps gang, any form is empty, anything empty is form ?

[5] Word for “colour” rather than “form”. This follows the Chinese text suggesting a translation from the Chinese or influenced by it.

[6] Should be ro, taste

[7] No vidya, no advidya, no end/exhaustion of vidya or of avidya. Vidya/samvedha (rig pa) is usually not included in this list.

[8] Usually kun ‘byung

[8a] I’ve belatedly seen that this ms omits the phrase rnams thob pa med pa’i phyir| = Skt. aprāptitvād (23 Jun 2020). Cf. Silk (1994: 132-3)

[9] Whether the mind is in movement or not

[10] g.yung dru(n)g tu, eternally, also Bon terminology

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