Yashts

The Avestan Yashts

Yashts are Avestan prayers mainly in praise of one particular divine being, either Ahura Mazda, the Amesha Spentas or the Yazatas. Yasht is a Pahlavi word which means veneration or worship. It is derived from Avesta yashta (root yaz “to venerate”).

The Yashts were originally part of the 21 Nasks known as Baghan Yasht, which had seventeen sections. The Avesta texts of some of the Yashts are adapted from the texts of some of the chapters of the Yasna, for instance Yasna 9 and 10 form the Hom Yasht; Yasna 35 to 42, Haftan Yasht; Yasna 57 is Sarosh Yasht. Each Yasht contains introductory and concluding prayers in Pazand.

The Yashts, on account of their compositions, are divided into larger Yashts and shorter Yashts. The larger Yashts like Avan, Meher, Rashne and Zamyad are characterized by their division into smaller chapters (Kardehs), each having identical introduction and conclusion. Larger Yashts are devoted to one particular divine being and short episodes of kings and heroes of the Peshdadian and Kayanian times are woven together in them. The kings venerate the Yazata seeking a boon, which the Yazata may or may not grant, depending on the intentions of the seeker.. Hormazd, Ardibahesht and Haptan Yashts are examples of shorter Yashts.

Much of the texts of the Yashts contain historical and geographical material pertaining to the Peshdadian and Kayanian periods. Hence the Yashts are considered the epics among Avestan texts. There are also a few poetic pieces in the Yashts. Larger Yashts were one of the main source of information on ancient Iranian History for Firdausi when he was composing the Shahnameh.

Yashts are an integral part of the daily prayers of Zoroastrians. In the Zoroastrian calendar, the thirty days of the month are each dedicated to a divine being. In the Sasanian times, each of the divine beings had a YASHT dedicated to them. Today, some of them have been lost and only 23 Yasht are left, four of which do not correspond to any day of the month. The Bahman Yasht is not a part of any regular Khordeh Avesta, since it is composed in Pazand. Most Yashts are recited for seeking help from the particular divine being for specific purposes.

Yashts have been given serial numbers on the basis of the occurrence of the divine being in the calendar. In academic texts, Yashts are generally referred to by their numbers. The following are the serial numbers of the Yashts.

Name of Yashts

Serial numbers

Hormazd Yasht

I

Haptan Yasht

II (Yasna 35-42)

Ardibahesht Yasht

III

Khordad Yasht

IV

Aban Yasht

V

Khorshed Yasht

VI

Mah Yasht

VII

Tir Yasht

VIII

Gosh Yasht

IX

Meher Yasht

X

Sarosh Yasht Hadokht

XI

Rashne Yasht

XII

Farvardin Yasht

XIII

Behram Yasht

XIV

Ram Yasht

XV

Din Yasht

XVI

Ashishwangh Yasht

XVII

Ashtad Yasht

XVIII

Zamyad Yasht

XIX

Vanant Yasht

XX

Srosh Yasht (Vadi)

Yasna 57

Siroza Yasht

Invocations to 33 divine beings

related to the calendar

Hom Yasht (larger)

Yasna 9-10

In some manuscripts, fragments of Avestan texts have been found which do not form a part of any existing collection of text. These fragments are technically clubbed together with the Yashts, though they are not used as prayers. They not included in most Khordeh Avestas. These are:

Yasht Fragments (Hadokht Nask Ch. I)

XXI

Yasht Fragments (Hadokht Nask Ch. II)

XXII

Afrin i Paigamber Zartosht

XXIII

Vishtasp Yasht

XXIV

 

Advertisements