One-word Sanskrit question from the Heart Sutra

in the line from the Heart Sutra
(Harvard-Kyoto transcription)

viharaty acittAvaraNaH

which Conze translates

“dwells without thought coverings”

isn’t viharaty the sandhi of the verb viharati

which means “keep separate” &c. (Monier-Williams p. 1003, col. 2) ?

Deep thanks to anyone who can confirm or correct this!

I would avoid the Conze translation. There’s a running joke about his “Heart” problems:'s_Prajnaparamitahrdaya

Thanks for this. I am familiar with Huifeng’s and Jayarava’s work, which is of considerable interest for the Chinese textual tradition. But my problem here is just the one word: viharati

am I correctly reading it as the word meaning “keep separate” on Monier-Williams p. 1003?

I’m not sure what you mean… viharati and harati are different words…and the vi- definitely belongs to -harati not to āśritya

Sorry, my bad typing. Yes, my question is about viharati. I corrected it in my posts so as not to promote confusion. Thanks for pointing it out!

I see. Yes, that’s the right entry, but usually we’d take it in the sense listed near the bottom: “to spend or pass (time)… to roam, wander…”

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Along the same lines as described by @Khemarato.bhikkhu, the place where you spend time is usually called a vihara. Many southeast asian countries call their temples or monasteries, vihara. Its still in use; people name their homes “xyz vihara” routinely in India.


Thanks! You have made me wildly happy!

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Ah, that must be where Conze got the idea he could translate it as “dwells”!

Viharati is a normal word used in meditation to indicate that one “remains” or “dwells” for a period of time. It’s an auxilliary verb indicating duration.

It’s worth noting that in Pali/Sanskrit it is commonly used and has long lost its metaphorical force. To viharati is just “to dwell”, rather than “to dwell (like one dwells in a building)”.

Āvaraṇa is a synonym for nīvaraṇa, i.e. the “hindrances”. The phrase means “to meditate with mind free of hindrances”. If it’s used outside of meditation context (for example, of a Buddha) then it could mean “lives with mind free of hindrances”.


Thank you for that richly detailed clarification! Your drawing in the traditional associations and use of both words meaningfully deepens my understanding of a key passage!

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