/euh ves"teuh/, n.
a collection of sacred Zoroastrian writings, including the Gathas.

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Sacred book of Zoroastrianism.

It contains hymns, prayers, and appeals to righteousness ascribed to Zoroaster. The present text was assembled in the 3rd–7th century AD from the remains of a larger body of scripture that was destroyed when Alexander the Great conquered Persia. It has five parts: the Gathas, hymns in what are thought to be Zoroaster's own words; Visp-rat, containing homages to spiritual leaders; Vendidad, the main source for Zoroastrian law; the Yashts, 21 hymns to angels and ancient heroes; and the Khurda avesta, composed of minor texts.

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▪ Zoroastrian scripture
also called  Zend-avesta,  

      sacred book of Zoroastrianism containing its cosmogony, law, and liturgy, the teachings of the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathushtra). The extant Avesta is all that remains of a much larger body of scripture, apparently Zoroaster's transformation of a very ancient tradition. The voluminous manuscripts of the original are said to have been destroyed when Alexander the Great conquered Persia. The present Avesta was assembled from remnants and standardized under the Sāsānian kings (3rd–7th century AD).

      The Avesta is in five parts. Its religious core is a collection of songs or hymns, the Gāthās, thought to be in the main the very words of Zoroaster. They form a middle section of the chief liturgical part of the canon, the Yasna, which contains the rite of the preparation and sacrifice of haoma. The Visp-rat is a lesser liturgical scripture, containing homages to a number of Zoroastrian spiritual leaders. The Vendidad, or Vidēvdāt, is the main source for Zoroastrian law, both ritual and civil. It also gives an account of creation and the first man, Yima. The Yashts are 21 hymns, rich in myth, to various yazatas (angels) and ancient heroes. The Khūrda Avesta (or Little Avesta) is a group of minor texts, hymns, and prayers for specific occasions.

      Zend-Avesta literally means “interpretation of the Avesta.” It originally referred to the commonly used Pahlavi translation but has often been used as the title of Western translations.

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Universalium. 2010.

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