by Tripitaka Master
Hsuan Tsang of the Tang Dynasty
With Commentary by Grand Master Tan Hsu
Of the seven
known translations of the Heart Sutra the one by the Tripitaka Master
Hsuan Tsang is the most popular. Tripitaka is a Sanskrit term designating
Buddhist canon, a Buddhist text which consists of three sections:
1. Sutras or original texts, or in other words, Buddhadharma. 2.
Vinaya or rules of discipline and 3. Sastras or commentaries related
to theory and practice, as well as to the teachings in relation
to non-Buddhist argument. Dharma master Hsuan Tsang understood the
Tripitaka thoroughly and therefore the title of Tripitaka Master
was bestowed upon him. He did not study canonical texts primarily
for personal satisfaction; his purpose was to make them available
to others and he acted in compliance with a direct order from the
emperor. Dharma Master Hsuan Tsang is a very famous sage from the
T'ang Dynasty. The description of the arduous way he obtained the
scriptures is known to every family and household and there is no
need to delve into it at this time.
The Prajna literature
is very extensive; it covers approximately twenty years of the Buddha's
teaching career. The seven translations of the sutra display minor
differences but the essential meaning was respected in each case.
There is no major difference between the seven of them. According
to the Tripitaka Master Kumarajiva's translation, this sutra was
spoken by the Buddha.
of the Heart Sutra includes a commentary which consists of three
parts: i) The reason for the sutra; 2) the method used to convey
the meaning; 3) the sutra's history. The Heart Sutra was composed
of excerpts from the Mahaprajnapdramita texts, and simple words
were carefully employed to convey profound meanings. Although the
Chinese version contains only two hundred sixty single characters,
nevertheless it embodies the entire Prajna literature in all its
depth and subtlety. As to the reason for this sutra, we only need
to look at the method used to put the text together and we realize
that the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was chosen as the model for
the rest of us, and that the sutra was spoken by the Buddha. To
understand it thoroughly is to understand all of the Prajna literature.
We are not going to address the sutra's history at this time.