A note on Niṣṭhānirvāṇaḥ in the Sanskrit Heart Sutra

Jayarava Attwood


Section VI of Conze’s edition of the Heart Sutra, containing the word niṣṭhānirvāṇaḥ or perhaps niṣṭhānirvāṇaprāptaḥ, has given translators and commentators considerable difficulty. Nirvāṇa being a neuter noun, the word niṣṭhānirvāṇaḥ, in the masculine, has to be a bahuvrīhi compound. Conze has divided niṣṭhānirvāṇaḥ and two other adjectives from the noun they describe—i.e. bodhisatvaḥ—by inserting a sentence break between them. Removing the extraneous full stop and reuniting the two halves of the sentence resolves many problems with the passage. 

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