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Index / Religions / Iranian / Zoroastrianism /
Avesta


The collections of sacred texts in Zoroastrianism.
For a long time the texts of the Avesta were orally transmitted, and did not come to be written down before 6th century BCE, which is about 1,000 years after they first began to be used. The origin of the term Avesta is unclear, but could probably be translated as 'foundation' or 'texts of praising'.
The original Avesta was made up of 21 sections, nasks. Only one nask is intact to the full extent — the Vendidad.
Only parts of the content of the original Avesta has survived into modern times, and most of the information we now possess comes from the religious/historical work of Denkart of the 9th century.
The parts of the Avesta which still exist are organized as 5 groups of texts:
  1. Jasna. To this group belong the gathas. The Jasna is made up of 72 chapters, and is the most important text collection for the religious rituals. In the Jasnas all divine powers are named, and the technique on how to prepare the Haoma is explained.
  2. Visprat. Calling to all divine powers.
  3. Vendidad
  4. Yasht
  5. Khorde Avesta. A book used principally by the laity, containing prayers and formulas of blessings.





By Tore Kjeilen