Yasna (Avestan: 𐬫𐬀𐬯𐬥𐬀) is the
Avestan language name of
Zoroastrianism's principal act of worship, and it is also the name of
the primary liturgical collection of
Avesta texts, recited during that
The function of the yasna ceremony is, very roughly described, to
strengthen the orderly spiritual and material creations of
against the assault of the destructive forces of Angra Mainyu. The
yasna service, that is, the recitation of the
Yasna texts, culminates
in the apæ zaothra, the "offering to the waters." The ceremony may
also be extended by recitation of the
Vendidad texts. A
normal yasna ceremony, without extensions, takes about two hours when
it is recited by an experienced priest.
Yasna texts constitute 72 chapters altogether, composed at
different times and by different authors. The middle chapters include
of the (linguistically) oldest texts of the Zoroastrian canon. These
very ancient texts, in the very archaic and linguistically difficult
Old Avestan language, include the four most sacred Zoroastrian
prayers, and also 17 chapters comprising the five Gathas, hymns that
are considered to have been composed by
Zoroaster himself. Several
sections of the
Yasna include exegetical comments.
Yasna chapter and
verse pointers are traditionally abbreviated with Y.
Avestan language word yasna literally means 'oblation' or
'worship'. The word is linguistically related to (but not the
functional equivalent of)
Vedic Sanskrit yajna. Unlike Sanskrit yajna,
which refers to a class of rituals, Zoroastrian yasna is a particular
liturgy and ritual, and the ritual has "to do with water rather than
1 The service
2 The liturgy
2.1 Structure and organization
2.2 Content summaries
4 Further reading
The theological function of the yasna ceremony, and the proper
performance of it, is to further asha, that is, the ceremony aims to
strengthen that which is right/true (one meaning of asha) in the
existence/creation (another meaning of asha) of divine order (yet
another meaning of asha). The
Encyclopedia Iranica summarizes the aim
of the yasna ceremony as "the maintenance of the cosmic integrity of
the good creation of
Ahura Mazdā." Zoroastrianism's
cosmological/eschatological perception of the purpose of humankind is
to strengthen the orderly spiritual and material creations of Mazda
against the assault of the destructive forces of Angra Mainyu. In that
conflict, theologically speaking, mankind's primary weapon is the
yasna ceremony, which is understood to have a direct, immediate
effect: "[f]ar from being a symbolic act, the proper performance of
the yasna is what prevents the cosmos from falling into chaos." The
culminating act of the yasna ceremony is the Ab-Zohr, the
"strengthening of the waters".
Yasna service, that is, the recitation of the
culminates in the Ab-Zohr, the "offering to waters". The Yasna
ceremony may be extended by recitation of the
Visperad and Vendidad.
A well-trained priest is able to recite the entire
Yasna in about two
hours. With extensions, it takes about an hour longer. In its
normal form, the
Yasna ceremony is only to be performed in the
Structure and organization
The texts of the
Yasna are organized into 72 chapters, known as hads
or has (from
Avestan ha'iti, 'cut'). The 72 threads of the Zoroastrian
Kusti the sacred girdle worn around the waist - represent the 72
chapters of the Yasna.
From a literary point of view, the 72 chapters consist of two nested
inner cores, and an outer envelope. The outer chapters/sections (the
"envelope") are in the Younger
Avestan language. The middle 27
chapters include the (linguistically) oldest texts of the Zoroastrian
canon. The inner chapters/sections (excepting chapters 42.1-4,52.5-8)
are in the more archaic
Old Avestan language, with the four sacred
formulae bracketing the innermost core. This innermost core includes
the 17 chapters of the Gathas, the oldest and most sacred texts of the
Yasna 27.13-27.15: three of the four of the most sacred Zoroastrian
Yasna 35-41: the "seven-chapter Yasna"
Gathas 2-5 (chapters 43-46, 47-50, 51 and 53)
Yasna 54.1: fourth of four of the most sacred Zoroastrian prayers
From a ritual point of view, the liturgy can be broken into 4 major
sections, each having its own internal prelude:
Chapter 1-12: Invitation of the divinities to the worship
Chapter 13-59: The Staota Yesniia
Chapter 60-69: The culmination of the
Yasna (the "Ab-Zohr"),
accompanied by intense ritual activity.
Chapter 70-72: Conclusion and thanks to the divinities for attending
Some sections of the
Yasna occur more than once. For instance,
is repeated as
Yasna 37, and
Yasna 63 consists of passages from Yasna
15.2, 66.2 and 38.3. The ability to recite the
Yasna from memory is
one of the prerequisites for Zoroastrian priesthood.
Yasna 1 opens with the praise of
Ahura Mazda, enumerating his divine
titles as the Creator, "radiant, glorious, the greatest, the best, the
most beautiful, the most firm, the most wise, of the most perfect
form, the highest in righteousness, possessed of great joy, creator,
fashioner, nourisher, and the Most Holy Spirit." (Dhalla, 1936:155).
Yasna 1 then enumerates the divinities, inviting them to the service.
Yasna 2, the Barsom Yasht, presents libation and the barsom (a bundle
of 23 twigs bound together, symbolizing sanctity) to the invited
Yasna 2-4 complement
Yasna 1. Most verses in
begin with the formula ayese yeshti …, "by means of this sacrifice,
I call …", followed by the name of the divinity being invoked.
Yasna 3-8 known collectively as the
Sarosh dron, presents other
Yasna 3 draws the attention of the divinities
Yasna 1, and in
Yasna 4, the offerings are consecrated to
Yasna 5 is repeated in
Yasna 6 is almost
identical to the first 10 verses of
Yasna 9-11 is the Hom Yasht, a collection of accolades to the Haoma
plant and its divinity.
Yasna 12 constitutes the Fravarane, the Zoroastrian creed and
declaration of faith. It is in "Artificial" Gathic Avestan, that is,
it is stylistically and linguistically aligned with the language of
the Gathas, but imperfectly. The last strophe of verse 7 as well as
all of verses 8 and 9 are incorporated into the Kusti ritual.
Yasna 13-18 are comparable to
Yasna 1-8 in that they too are a
collection of invocations to the divinities. Chapters 14-18 serve as
an introduction to the Staota Yesniia of
Yasna 19-59. The first 10
Yasna 17, "to the fires, waters, plants", is almost
Yasna 19-21, the Bhagan Yasht, are commentaries on the three 'high
Yasna 22-26 is another set of invocations to the divinities.
Yasna 27 has the prayers referred to by
Yasna 19-21. These are:
Ahuna Vairya invocation (also known as the Yatha Ahu Vairyo), the
most sacred of all Zoroastrian prayers.
The Ashem Vohu
The Yenghe hatam
Yasna 28.1, Ahunavaiti
Gatha (Bodleian MS J2)
Yasna 28-53 include the (linguistically) oldest texts of the
Zoroastrian canon. 17 of the 26 chapters make up the Gathas, the most
sacred hymns of
Zoroastrianism and thought to have been composed by
Zoroaster himself. The
Gathas are in verse. These are structurally
interrupted by a) the
Yasna Haptanghaiti ("seven-chapter Yasna",
#35-41), which is as old as the
Gathas but in prose, b) two short
chapters (#42 and #52) that are not as old as the
Gathas and Yasna
Yasna 28-34: Ahunavaiti Gatha
Yasna Haptanghaiti, the "seven-chapter Yasna", also in
Avestan but in prose.
Yasna 42: a 4 verse chapter invoking the elements.
Yasna 43-46: Ushtavait Gatha
Yasna 47-50: Spenta Mainyu Gatha
Yasna 51: Vohu Khshathra Gatha
Yasna 52: an 8 verse hymn to Ashi. Verses 52.5 - 52.8, in Younger
Avestan, are a duplicate of
Yasna 8.5 - 8.8.
Yasna 53: Vahishto Ishti Gatha
Yasna 54 has the text of the a airiiema ishiio, a prayer referred to
Yasna 55 is a praise to the
Gathas and the Staota Yesniia.
Yasna 56 is again an invocation to the divinities, appealing for their
Yasna 57 is the
Sarosh Yasht, the hymn to the divinity of religious
discipline. It is closely related to, and appears to have sections
Yasht 10, the hymn to Mithra.
Yasna 58 is again a "hidden" Yasht, here to the genius of prayer (cf.
Yasna 59 is a repetition of the sections from
Yasna 17 and 26.
Yasna 60 is blessing upon the house of the ashavan ('just' or 'true'
Yasna 60.2-7 constitute the Dahma Afriti invocation, also known
as the Afrinagan Dahman.
Yasna 61 praises the anti-demonic powers imbued in the Afrinagan
Dahman, Yenghe hatam and the three principal prayers of
Yasna 62 constitutes the Ataksh Nyashes, prayers to fire and its
Yasna 63-69 constitute the prayers that accompany the Ab-Zohr,
"offering to water".
Yasna 70-72 are again a set of invocations to the divinities.
^ Drower 1944, p. 78.
^ Boyce 1975, pp. 147-191.
^ a b Malandra 2006.
^ Stausberg 2004, pp. 337,n131.
Boyce, Mary (1975), History of Zoroastrianism, I, Leiden: Brill,
ISBN 90-04-10474-7 .
Boyce, Mary (1983), "Āb-Zōhr", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 1, Costa Mesa:
Mazda Pub .
Dhalla, Maneckji Nusservanji (1938), History of Zoroastrianism, Oxford
University Press .
Drower, Elizabeth Stephens (1944), Journal of the Royal
Anthropological Institute, 74 (1/2): 75–89, doi:10.2307/2844296,
JSTOR 2844296 Missing or empty title= (help); chapter=
Kellens, Jean (1989), "Avesta", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 3, Costa Mesa:
Mazda Pub, pp. 35–44 .
Kotwal, Firoze M.; Boyd, James W. (1991), The Yasna: A Zoroastrian
High Liturgy, Cahiers de Studia Iranica, 8, Leuven: Peeters .
Malandra, William (2006), "Yasna", Encyclopaedia Iranica, online
edition, New York: iranicaonline.org .
Stausberg, Michael (2004), Die Religion Zarathushtras (Band 3),
Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, ISBN 3-17-017120-8 .
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Translations of the
Yasna liturgy now in the public domain:
Mills, Lawrence Heyworth (1887), Avesta: Yasna, Sacred Books of the
East, 31, Oxford University Press .
at avesta.org (organized by chapter).
Mills, American Edition, 1898, with select passages adopted from
Dhalla, Maneckji Nusservanji (1908), The Nyaishes Or Zoroastrian
Litanies, Columbia University Press .
at sacred-texts.com (plain text).
Book of Arda Viraf
Letter of Tansar
Dana-i Menog Khrat