Svalpākṣarā Prajñāpāramitā Sutra belongs to the bigger Prajnaparamita class of literature. Similar to the Prajnaparamita Hridya Sutra (Heart Sutra) this also contains Mantras within the text. Svalpa means few, Akshara means letters, thus the term Svalpakshara means “few Letters”. Hence the title can be translated as “Perfection of Wisom in a Few Letters”. The Bhagavan speaks two Mantras within this sutra.
The Sutra begins with the Bhagavan staying at Rajagriha with the host of Bhikshus, Bodhisattvas & Devas. There upon, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara rises from his seat and requesting the Bhagavan to teach the Svalpakshara Prajnaparamita:
deśayatu bhagavān prajñāpāramitāṁ svalpākṣarāṁ mahāpuṇyām, yasyāḥ śravaṇamātreṇa sarvasattvāḥ sarvakarmāvaraṇāni kṣapayiṣyanti, niyataṁ ca bodhiparāyaṇā bhaviṣyanti | ye ca sattvā mantrasādhane udyuktāsteṣāṁ cāvighnena mantrāḥ sidhyanti |
Demonstrate, Oh Bhagavan, the Svalpakshara Prajnaparamita, which is of Great Punya, which on merely hearing, the Karma obstacles of all the beings will be extinguished, and they will definitlely end up in enlightenment; and the Mantras of the beings who labour zealously at the evocation of Mantras will succeed without fail
The Bhagavan on hearing Avalokiteshvara’s request, praises him and enters a Samadhi called “Sarvaduḥkhapramocana” (Liberation of all sufferings), and exhibits several auspicious signs, and then proclaims the Svalpakshara Prajnaparamita:
bodhisattvena mahāsattvena samacittena bhavitavyam | sarvasattveṣu maitracittena bhavitavyam | kṛtajñena bhavitavyam | kṛtavedinā ca bhavitavyam | sarvapāpaviratacittena bhavitavyam
idaṁ ca prajñāpāramitāhṛdayamāgrahītavyam
The Bodhisattva Mahasattva should have an even thought, he shoud have a freindly thought towards all beings, he should be thankful, he should be grateful, and he should desist in his heart from all evil
and this Prajnaparamita Hridaya, should be repeatedly recited:
namo ratnatrayāya |
namaḥ śākyamunaye tathāgatāya arhate samyaksaṁbuddhāya |
tadyathā – oṁ mune mune mahāmunaye svāhā ||
(This last part of the above Mantra : oṁ mune mune mahāmunaye svāhā also appears in a Prajnaparamita text titled “Vajparani Prajnaparamita Sutra” )
The Bhagavan further says that he attained Anuttara Samyaksambodhi, through this Mantra !. And also adds that he has heard this Mantra from Buddha MahaShakyamani. He has explains the various benifits of chanting, writing and propogating this Mantra.
Then, the Bhagavan proclaims another Mantra:
oṁ jeya jeya padmābhe avame avame sarasaraṇi
dhiridhiri devatā anupālani yuddhāttāriṇi
paracakranivāriṇi pūraya pūraya bhagavati sarva
āśā mama ca sarvasattvānāṁ ca |
sarvakarmāvaraṇāni viśodhaya, buddhādhiṣṭhite svāhā |
The Bhagavan further says about the above Mantra:
iyaṁ sā kulaputra paramārthaprajñāpāramitā sarvabuddhānāṁ jananī bodhisattvamātā bodhidātrī pāpahārakā | sarvabuddhairapi na śaknoti asyānuśaṁsā vaktuṁ yāvatkalpakoṭiśatairapi | anayā paṭhitamātreṇa sarvaparṣanmaṇḍalābhiṣiktā bhavanti, sarve ca mantrāḥ abhimukhā bhavanti ||
This Kulaputra, is the Paramartha Prajnaparamita, The Mother of all Buddhas, Mother of Bodhisattvas, Giver of Bodhi, Destroyer of Sins, Even all the Buddhas are unable to express in words her advantages, even after hundreds of kotis of aeons. Where it is merely recited, there all the Assemblies are consecrated, and all the Mantras are realized.
The Sutra then goes on as usual with the reason for the name of the Sutra, and the benefits of reading the Sutra, and concludes with the Assembly of Nagas, Yakshara, Gandharvas, Devas etc rejoicing at the Bhagavan’s discourse.
1. Conze’s Translation of the “The Perfection of Wisdom in a few words” from “Perfect Wisdom – The Short Prajnaparamita Texts“
2. Sanskrit version of Svalpakshara Prajnaparamita from Uwest Sanskrit Digital Canon :
1. The English translation is just a Sanskritized Version of Conze’s Translation, with some modifications
2. In the second Mantra, Uwest version had “yuddhottāriṇi”, but Conze’s version had “yuddhāttāriṇi”. I have followed the latter, as the Uwest versions are well known for typos.