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The Yasna Haptanghaiti (Yasna Haptaŋhāiti), Avestan for "Worship in Seven Chapters," is a set of 7 hymns within the greater Yasna collection, that is, within the primary liturgical texts of the Zoroastrian Avesta.

Contents

Age and importance

The Yasna Haptanghaiti is in Gathic Avestan, and is as old as the Gathas, the most sacred hymns of Zoroastrianism and considered to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. The seven hymns of the Yasna Haptanghaiti are generally considered to have been composed by the immediate disciples of Zoroaster, either during the prophet's lifetime or shortly after his death.

In substance, the seven chapters are of great antiquity and contain allusions to the general (not necessarily Zoroaster-reformed) religious beliefs of the late second millennium BCE. The texts are thus also of significance to scholars of religious history, and has a formative influence on the reconstruction of pre-Zoroastrian (Indo-)Iranian religion and in distinguishing Zoroaster's contributions from those of pre-existing ones.

Structure and content

As represented within the greater Yasna liturgy, the Yasna Haptanghaiti are placed (and recited) between the first and second Gathas. Unlike the Gathas however, which are in verse, the Yasna Haptanghaiti is in prose. Analysis of the texts suggests that the hymns of the Yasna Haptanghaiti were composed as a discrete unit. The last verse of the last chapter suggests that the seven chapters represent the historical Yasna liturgy, around which the other chapters of the present-day Yasna were later organized. In that verse (41.6), the Yasna Haptanghaiti is personified as the "the brave Yasna" and "the holy, the ritual chief."[a]

The seven chapters have been summarized by Lawrence Heyworth Mills as follows:

1. (Yasna 35), 10 verses, "Praise to Ahura and the Immortals (Amesha Spentas); Prayer for the practice and diffusion of the faith"
2. (Yasna 36),  6 verses, "To Ahura and the Fire (Atar)"
3. (Yasna 37),  5 verses, "To Ahura, the holy Creation, the Fravashis of the Just (ashavan), and the Bountiful Immortals (Amesha Spentas)
4. (Yasna 38),  4 verses, "To the earth and the sacred waters (Apo)"
5. (Yasna 39),  5 verses, "To the soul of the Kine, &c"
6. (Yasna 40),  4 verses, "Prayers for Helpers"
7. (Yasna 41),  6 verses, "Prayer to Ahura as the King, the Life, and the Rewarder"

In the 19th century, Yasna 42 was considered to be a supplement to the Yasna Haptanghaiti, but later discussions of the liturgy do not include it as such. Yasna 42 is younger than the Yasna Haptanghaiti.

Notes

  • a) ^  A similar personification of the Yasna Haptanghaiti occurs in the Younger Avestan hymn of the Hawan Gah, a text of the Khordeh Avesta collection.

Bibliography

  • Boyce, Mary (1975), History of Zoroastrianism, 1, Leiden: Brill  
  • Kellens, Jean (1989), "Avesta", Encyclopaedia Iranica, 3, New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp. 35–44  
  • Mills, Lawrence H. (1905), "The Pahlavi texts of the Yasna Haptanghaiti, Yasna XXXV-XLI (XLII), edited with all Mss. collated", Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft (ZDMG) 59: 105–115  
  • Narten, Johanna (1986), Der Yasna Haptaŋhāiti, Wiesbaden: Reichert  

Further reading

  • Yasna Haptanghaiti in Mills, L. H. (1887), Müller, Max, ed., Sacred Books of the East, 31, Oxford: OUP  
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