Vajra Cutter Sutra

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The goddess Prajñaparamita

The Vajra Cutter Sutra (or Diamond Sutra) (Skt. Vajracchedikā-prajñāpāramitā-sūtra; Tib. འཕགས་པ་ཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པ་རྡོ་རྗེ་གཅོད་པ་ཞེས་བྱ་བ་ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ, pakpa sherab kyi parol tu chinpa dorje chöpa shyé jawa tekpa chenpö do, Wyl. ’phags pa shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa rdo rje gcod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo)[1] is a popular Prajnaparamita sutra.


The Sanskrit original is still extant

  • Max Muller published the first Sanskrit edition in the West, based on four Sanskrit manuscripts, one from Tibet, one from China, and two from Japan.

Early Translations

  • Chinese translation in the 5th by Kumarajiva
  • Chinese translation in the 7th century by Xuanzang
  • Tibetan translation (Toh 16) in the 9th century by Shilendrabodhi and Yeshé Dé

Modern Translations

In English (a selection)

  • Edward Conze, Buddhist Widsom Books—The Diamond Sutra and The Heart Sutra (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1958)
  • Gelong Thubten Tsultrim (George Churinoff), The Exalted Mahayana Sutra on the Wisdom Gone Beyond Called the Vajra Cutter (based on the Tibetan Lhasa Zhol printing), FPMT, 2002 Available online here
  • Paul Harrison, 'Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā: A New English Translation of the Sanskrit Text Based on Two Manuscripts from Greater Gandhāra', contained in Jens Braarvig, Paul Harrison, Jens-Uwe Hartmann, Kazunobu Matsuda & Lore Sander, eds., Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection, Hermes (Oslo 2006)
  • Max Müller, The Vagrakkhedika or diamond-cutter, in 'Buddhist Mahayana Texts' (Oxford University Press, 1894), translation from Sanskrit.
  • A. F. Price & Wong Mou-Lam (translators), The Diamond Sutra and the Sutra of Hui-neng (Shambhala, 2005)
  • Gregory Schopen, 'The Manuscript of the Vajracchedika Found at Gilgit: An Annotated Transcription and Translation' in Luis O. Gómez and Jonathan A. Silk (ed.s), Studies in the Literature of the Great Vehicle: Three Mahāyāna Buddhist Texts
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, The Diamond That Cuts through Illusion, translated from Sanskrit and Chinese, available here

In French

  • Philippe Cornu and Patrick Carré, Soûtra du diamant et autres soûtras de la voie médiane (Paris: Fayard, 2001) (translated from Tibetan)
  • Georges Driessens, in La Perfection de Sagesse (Seuil/Points-Sagesse, 1996)
  • Charles-Joseph de Harlez de Deulin, Vajracchedikā (Prajñāpāramitā), from Sanskrit, comparing with Manchu and Chinese versiosn (Imprimerie Nationale, 1892)
  • Jin Siyan, Le Sûtra du diamant (You-feng, 2007)
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, Le sutra du diamant. Vajracchedika Prajñaparamita. La perfection de sagesse qui coupe l'illusion dans le silence foudroyant (Albin Michel, 1997)




  • Thich Nhat Hanh, The Diamond That Cuts Through Illusion (Parallax Press, revised edition 2006)

Famous Quotes

གང་དག་ང་ལ་གཟུགས་སུ་མཐོང༌། །

གང་དག་ང་ལ་སྒྲར་ཤེས་པ། །
ལོག་པར་སྤོང་བས་ཞུགས་པ་སྟེ། །

སྐྱེ་བོ་དེ་དག་ང་མི་མཐོང༌། །

Those who see my body as ordinary form,
And hear my voice as ordinary sound,
Have set out upon a mistaken path.
Such people do not truly see me.

Buddha Shakyamuni, Diamond Cutter Sutra

སྐར་མ་རབ་རིབ་མར་མེ་དང༌། །

སྒྱུ་མ་ཟིལ་པ་ཆུ་བུར་དང་། །
རྨི་ལམ་གློག་དང་སྤྲིན་ལྟ་བུ། །

འདུས་བྱས་དེ་ལྟར་བལྟ་བར་བྱ། །

Like a star, hallucination, candle,
Magical illusion, dewdrop, bubble,
Dream, lightning or a cloud—
Know all compounded phenomena to be like this.

Buddha Shakyamuni, Diamond Cutter Sutra


  1. Also known as The Sutra in Three Hundred Lines (Skt. triśātikā)

Further Reading

  • Thich Nhat Hanh, The Diamond that Cuts Through Illusion: Commentaries on the Prajñaparamita Diamond Sutra (Berkeley: Parallax Press, 1992)
  • Edward Conze, The Prajñāpāramitā Literature (1960)

Internal Links

External Links