Heart Sutra is one of the most quintessential Mahayana Buddhism texts. Due to its short length, it is likely the most known Buddhism text in China (the other one would be Diamond Sutra). It has been translated to Chinese multiple times and the most popular version is by Xuanzang (602–664 AD), who traveled to Indian alone illegally, studied there, and brought back a great number of Buddhism texts in a 17-years trip. His story later became the inspiration of the novel Journey to the West. Legend says that he learned Heart Sutra on his way to Indian from a foreign traveling monk.

In this post, I will give an English translation based on the Chinese text. Translation of technical terms is simplified so hopefully it will be easier for laymen. The original Sanskrit pronunciation and Chinese texts are displayed along side as well. A nice Sanskrit chanting is here

Disclaimer: I do not have formal education in Buddhism, thus my translation may be inaccurate.

Arya-avalokitesvaro bodhisattvo Gambhiram prajnaparamita caryam caramano Vyavalokayati sma panca-skandhas Tamscha svabhava sunyam pasyati sma


When practising deep wisdom, Avalokitesvara saw that all composite existences had no self nature. This experience transcended all pain and suffering. Thus he told Sariputra the following:

Iha sariputra Rupam sunyata, sunyataya rupam Yad rupam sa sunyata, Sunyataya tad rupam Evam eva, vedana samjna, samskara vijnanam.


Inputs to sense organs have no self nature; Outputs of sense organs have no self nature; Impressions derived from these outputs have no self nature; Wishes conditioned on impressions have no self nature; And consciousness built on wishes also have no self nature.

Iha sariputra sarva dharmah, sunyata laksanah Anutpanna, Aniruddha, Amala, Aviamala, Anuna, Aparipurnah. Tasmac sariputra sunyatayam na rupam na vedana, na samjna, na samskarah na vijnanam. Na cakshuh-srotra, ghrana-jihva, kaya-manamsi. Na rupa sabda gandha rasa sprashtvaya dharmah. Na cakshur-dhatur yavan, na manovijnana-dhatuh. Na avidya, na avidya-ksayo, yavan na jaramaranam, na jaramarana-ksayo.


Thus all phenomena have no self nature. Their nature is of no birth no death, no clean no filthy, no increase no decrease. No observer, no observed; No object, no subject; No dualism.

Na duhkha, samudaya, nirodha, marga. Na jnanam, na praptir, na-apraptih. Tasmac Sariputra Apraptivad Veharanty acitta Avarnah. Citta Avarana nastitvad atrastro Viparasya atrikranto nishta nirvanah.


Ultimately, there is no (Buddhism) teaching to learn and there is nothing to gain. With this experience, enlightened beings have no worry, reach non-fear, depart from wishes, and achieve self liberation.

Tryadva vyavashitah, sarava buddhah prajna - paramitam Astritya Anuttaram samyak sambodhim Ambhisumbuddhanah. Tasmac jnatavyam prajna-paramitam maha mantro. Maha Vidya mantra. Anuttara mantro. Asamasama mantrah. Sarva dukha prasamanah, satyam Amityuavat.


Buddhas from the past, present, and future all reach enlightenment from practising wisdom. Thus wisdom practice is the ultimate practice. It can eliminate all suffering.

Prajna-paramittam ukto mantrah, tadyata: Gate , Gate , Paragati, Parasam gate Bodhi svaha


(This is a sentence for chanting. Historically, it is not translated. The literal meaning is something like “come together to the other shore”.)