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Yasna
Yasna
(Avestan: 𐬫𐬀𐬯𐬥𐬀) is the Avestan language
Avestan language
name of Zoroastrianism's principal act of worship, and it is also the name of the primary liturgical collection of Avesta
Avesta
texts, recited during that yasna ceremony. The function of the yasna ceremony is, very roughly described, to strengthen the orderly spiritual and material creations of Ahura Mazda against the assault of the destructive forces of Angra Mainyu. The yasna service, that is, the recitation of the Yasna
Yasna
texts, culminates in the apæ zaothra, the "offering to the waters." The ceremony may also be extended by recitation of the Visperad and Vendidad texts. A normal yasna ceremony, without extensions, takes about two hours when it is recited by an experienced priest. The Yasna
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
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
Zoroaster
himself. Several sections of the Yasna
Yasna
include exegetical comments. Yasna
Yasna
chapter and verse pointers are traditionally abbreviated with Y. The Avestan language
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 fire."[1][2]

Contents

1 The service 2 The liturgy

2.1 Structure and organization 2.2 Content summaries

3 References 4 Further reading

The service[edit] 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
Encyclopedia Iranica
summarizes the aim of the yasna ceremony as "the maintenance of the cosmic integrity of the good creation of Ahura Mazdā."[3] 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."[3] The culminating act of the yasna ceremony is the Ab-Zohr, the "strengthening of the waters". The Yasna
Yasna
service, that is, the recitation of the Yasna
Yasna
texts, 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
Yasna
in about two hours.[4] With extensions, it takes about an hour longer. In its normal form, the Yasna
Yasna
ceremony is only to be performed in the morning. The liturgy[edit] Structure and organization[edit]

The texts of the Yasna
Yasna
are organized into 72 chapters, known as hads or has (from Avestan
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
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
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 Zoroastrian canon.

Yasna
Yasna
1-27.12

Yasna
Yasna
27.13-27.15: three of the four of the most sacred Zoroastrian prayers

Yasna
Yasna
28-34: Gatha 1

Yasna
Yasna
35-41: the "seven-chapter Yasna"

Yasna
Yasna
43-51,53: Gathas 2-5 (chapters 43-46, 47-50, 51 and 53)

Yasna
Yasna
54.1: fourth of four of the most sacred Zoroastrian prayers

Yasna
Yasna
54.2-72

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
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
Yasna
occur more than once. For instance, Yasna
Yasna
5 is repeated as Yasna
Yasna
37, and Yasna
Yasna
63 consists of passages from Yasna 15.2, 66.2 and 38.3. The ability to recite the Yasna
Yasna
from memory is one of the prerequisites for Zoroastrian priesthood.

Content summaries[edit]

Yasna
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
Yasna
1 then enumerates the divinities, inviting them to the service. Yasna
Yasna
2, the Barsom Yasht, presents libation and the barsom (a bundle of 23 twigs bound together, symbolizing sanctity) to the invited divinities. Yasna
Yasna
2-4 complement Yasna
Yasna
1. Most verses in Yasna
Yasna
2-3 begin with the formula ayese yeshti …, "by means of this sacrifice, I call …", followed by the name of the divinity being invoked. Yasna
Yasna
3-8 known collectively as the Sarosh dron, presents other offerings (zaothra). Yasna
Yasna
3 draws the attention of the divinities invoked in Yasna
Yasna
1, and in Yasna
Yasna
4, the offerings are consecrated to the divinities. Yasna
Yasna
5 is repeated in Yasna
Yasna
37. Yasna
Yasna
6 is almost identical to the first 10 verses of Yasna
Yasna
17. Yasna
Yasna
9-11 is the Hom Yasht, a collection of accolades to the Haoma plant and its divinity. Yasna
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
Yasna
13-18 are comparable to Yasna
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
Yasna
19-59. The first 10 verses of Yasna
Yasna
17, "to the fires, waters, plants", is almost identical to Yasna
Yasna
6. Yasna
Yasna
19-21, the Bhagan Yasht, are commentaries on the three 'high prayers' of Yasna
Yasna
28-53. Yasna
Yasna
22-26 is another set of invocations to the divinities. Yasna
Yasna
27 has the prayers referred to by Yasna
Yasna
19-21. These are:

The Ahuna Vairya invocation (also known as the Yatha Ahu Vairyo), the most sacred of all Zoroastrian prayers. The Ashem Vohu The Yenghe hatam

Yasna
Yasna
28.1, Ahunavaiti Gatha (Bodleian MS J2)

Yasna
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
Zoroastrianism
and thought to have been composed by Zoroaster
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 Haptanghaiti.

Yasna
Yasna
28-34: Ahunavaiti Gatha Yasna
Yasna
35-41: Yasna
Yasna
Haptanghaiti, the "seven-chapter Yasna", also in Gathic Avestan
Avestan
but in prose. Yasna
Yasna
42: a 4 verse chapter invoking the elements. Yasna
Yasna
43-46: Ushtavait Gatha Yasna
Yasna
47-50: Spenta Mainyu Gatha Yasna
Yasna
51: Vohu Khshathra Gatha Yasna
Yasna
52: an 8 verse hymn to Ashi. Verses 52.5 - 52.8, in Younger Avestan, are a duplicate of Yasna
Yasna
8.5 - 8.8. Yasna
Yasna
53: Vahishto Ishti Gatha

Yasna
Yasna
54 has the text of the a airiiema ishiio, a prayer referred to in Yasna
Yasna
27. Yasna
Yasna
55 is a praise to the Gathas and the Staota Yesniia. Yasna
Yasna
56 is again an invocation to the divinities, appealing for their attention. Yasna
Yasna
57 is the Sarosh Yasht, the hymn to the divinity of religious discipline. It is closely related to, and appears to have sections borrowed from Yasht 10, the hymn to Mithra. Yasna
Yasna
58 is again a "hidden" Yasht, here to the genius of prayer (cf. Dahman). Yasna
Yasna
59 is a repetition of the sections from Yasna
Yasna
17 and 26. Yasna
Yasna
60 is blessing upon the house of the ashavan ('just' or 'true' man). Yasna
Yasna
60.2-7 constitute the Dahma Afriti invocation, also known as the Afrinagan Dahman. Yasna
Yasna
61 praises the anti-demonic powers imbued in the Afrinagan Dahman, Yenghe hatam and the three principal prayers of Yasna
Yasna
27. Yasna
Yasna
62 constitutes the Ataksh Nyashes, prayers to fire and its divinity. Yasna
Yasna
63-69 constitute the prayers that accompany the Ab-Zohr, "offering to water". Yasna
Yasna
70-72 are again a set of invocations to the divinities.

References[edit]

Citations

^ Drower 1944, p. 78. ^ Boyce 1975, pp. 147-191. ^ a b Malandra 2006. ^ Stausberg 2004, pp. 337,n131.

Bibliography

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= ignored (help) 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 .

Further reading[edit]

Wikisource
Wikisource
has original text related to this article: Avesta/Yasna

Translations of the Yasna
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).

v t e

Zoroastrian literature

Avestan

Khordeh Avesta Yasna Visperad Vendidad Gathas Chihrdad Yasht

Middle Persian/Pahlavi

Book of Arda Viraf Bundahishn Dadestan-i Denig Menog-i Khrad Letter of Tansar Denkard Frahang-i Pahlavig Frahang-i Oim-evak Dana-i Menog Khrat Shikand-gumanig Vizar

Other

Sad-dar Jamasp Namag Dasatir-i-Asmani

.