The Yashts (Yašts) are a collection of twenty-one hymns in Younger Avestan. Each of these hymns invokes a specific Zoroastrian divinity or concept. Yasht chapter and verse pointers are traditionally abbreviated as Yt.
The word yasht derives from Avestan yešti, "for venerate" (see Christian Bartholomae`s Altiranisches wörterbuch, section 1298), and several hymns of the Yasna liturgy that "venerate by praise" are—in tradition—also nominally called yashts. These "hidden" Yashts are: the Barsom Yasht (Yasna 2), another Hom Yasht in Yasna 9-11, the Bhagan Yasht of Yasna 19-21, a hymn to Ashi in Yasna 52, another Sarosh Yasht in Yasna 57, the praise of the (hypostasis of) "prayer" in Yasna 58, and a hymn to the Ahurani in Yasna 68. Since these are a part of the primary litury, they do not count among the twenty-one hymns of the Yasht collection.
All the hymns of the Yasht collection "are written in what appears to be prose, but which, for a large part, may originally have been a (basically) eight-syllable verse, oscillating between four and thirteen syllables, and most often between seven and nine."
Most of the yazatas that the individual Yashts are in praise of also have a dedication in the Zoroastrian calendar. The exceptions are Drvaspa and Vanant.
The twenty-one yashts of the collection (notes follow):
||The Yashts did not originally have titles. These were assigned at some time during the Common Era, and hence reflect the Middle Persian forms of the divinities' names.
||Several Yashts are—despite their names—hymns to other divinities or concepts.
- Yasht 5 is nominally to the waters but primarily addresses Aredvi Sura Anahita, who is (also) a divinity of the waters.
- Yasht 15 is nominally to Raman (Rama Kshathra) but praises the "good" Vayu[i]
- Yasht 16 is nominally to Daena "insight, revelation" but actually invokes Chista "Wisdom". Chista and Daena are very closely associated with one another.
- Yasht 18, nominally to Arshtat, is actually an ode to khvarenah, the "(divine) glory".
- Yasht 19, nominally to Zam, the "Earth", has very little to do with the earth. See Zam for details.
||Yashts 1–4 are "mediocre, meaningless texts, composed in incoherent language; they probably result from a very late expansion of the Yašt collection."
||Yasht 9 to Drvaspa has a number of verses that are originally from Yasht 5, the hymn to the waters.
||Yashts 11 and 12 are respectively hymns to Sraosha and Rashnu, but are to some extent also an extension of Yasht 10, the hymn to Mithra. Sraosha and Rashnu are both attendants of Mithra.
||There is also a "hidden" Yasht to the waters at Yasna 38.
||Yasht 5 (in praise of Aredvi Sura Anahita) and Yasht 17 (to Ashi) share a number of verses. It is not possible to determine which of the two is the original.
||The Avesta has two hymns that were later titled Hom Yasht. The original is part of the Yasna liturgy and hence not counted as a Yasht. The other, Yasht 20, is a duplicate of the three verses of Yasna 9-11.
||Vayu, divinity of wind and atmosphere, is a dual divinity: part benevolent and part malign.
- Kellens, Jean (1989), "Avesta", Encyclopaedia Iranica 3, New York: Routledge and Kegan Paul: 35-44.
Further reading