Our Avesta prayers are based on Staota Yasna, which is the Science of Vibrations, the speech of the Yazatas. "Staot Yasna Yazamaidey Ya Daata Angheush Paoruyeya" - We attune ourselves to Staota Yasna, which is the primeval law". Thus our prayers, which are based on Staot Yasna, have mystical esoteric purport and cannot be understood or deciphered by mere philology. The Yatha Ahu Vairyo prayer is the fundamental key-note to the entire edifice of our scriptures. This short but extremely powerful prayer has 21 words each corresponding to one of the 21 Nasks.
The sciences, philosophies and theologies - the actual Zoroastrian literature as such - have been called Farhangs, and the expositions have been called Nikhiz. The Pahalvi versions and explanations of the Avestan Nasks existed from the advent of the revered prophet Asho Zarathustra and were specially preserved in the Daz or fortified strong-holds of the Royal Treasury of king Vishtasp. The Avesta texts relating to the facts about Asho Zarathustra and His marvellous achievements have been for the most part lost, whereas their Pahalvi versions remain. The Gathas and the rest of the Avesta cannot be called literature in the strict sense of the word. They do not form an essay reading with a sustained sense intelligible to us by our present method. The religious specialties called Khordeh Avesta, Vendidad, Yasna etc. are religious prescriptions, which are to be utilized for the redemption of the soul.
Nature has in her working Mithra, i.e. the plan of the creation and its redemption (planning power); Maanthra, i.e., the basic foundation of the plan and its fulfillment (shifting and arranging power); and Yasna, i.e., the creation of the Universe according to the above plan, and its motion and manifestation in all its diverse aspects (moving and erecting power). Asho Zarathustra through the Divine Knowledge of Ahura Mazda (Haoma) inspired in him by Behman Ameshaspand and Sarosh Yazad, had devised according to Saasnaa (Diine teachings; Divine Wisdom) 21 Nasks. These 21 Nasks (volumes) were composed of Staota Vacha, capable of being understood only by the "developed" heart powers with consequent growth of the third eye and were known as Fashusho-Maanthra Nasks.
Authorized disciples and successors of Prophet Zarathustra called Zarathustrotemo and Rainedar and Saosyant brought the Maanthra of the above 21 Nasks of Staota Vacha called Fasusho-Maanthra, into 21 Nasks of the talismanic Avestic language called Maanthra-Spenta Nasks, without altering the original essence at all.
The important part from these 21 Nasks was then selected and put in the Avestic language, together with its Zend explanation in three parts of Manthra and Yasna, capable of being understood by the laity, after the preliminary knowledge of Nikhiz (exposition). This was known as Saosyanto-Maanthra. In this way, the sacred literature was current in its Empire days.
The current Mithra part of the literature of the laity consisted of all Farhangs (explanations), the Maanthras part consisted of Laws Divine and other such things, and the the Yasna part consisted of formulae for the redemption of the Soul, the ceremonials etc. All these Mithra, Maanthra and Yasna pars of the literature of the laity were rendered and explained in the Pahalvi language in the Empire days. We presently have only a part of the current literature for the laity and some remnants of its Pahalvi rendering. The 21 Nasks of Fashusho-Maanthra and Maanthra-Spenta were kept unrevealed even in the Empire days; they were meant only for Ashavans (spiritually advanced souls) of high order. We, the common people, are not in need of them. They are for Saosyants only. What we miss is the vast literature or the Nikhiz (exposition), the interpretation of the religion and its various aspects, the current Avesta history and other profound literature covering all the sciences of old and modern worlds.
Our Present Avesta Prayers
Over the years, changes were made in our prayers according to the need. But who could make such changes from time to time? Only the authorized disciples and successors of Prophet Zarathustra viz. The Rainidars or Saosyants, who have the Divine Authority to do so. These are not ordinary learned pious people, but saviors appointed by Nature, millennia before their actual advent. They come from time to time, whenever the Religion gets disorganized and dwindles. They demonstrate their spiritual strength and prove their worth before they are accepted. They come to reorganize the religion and revise the prayers bearing in mind the spiritual composition of the people in a particular period.
Our last such Raenidar was Dastur Adarbad Marespand who lived in the reign of King Shapur 2 of the Sassanian times. At present, his Dasturi is coming to an end; that is precisely why Parsis are going through bad times spiritually, morally and materially. However, we are hopeful as we await our next Saosyant Shah Behram Varjavand.
In conclusion, the Avesta prayers we recite at present, may not exactly be the same as that 9500 years ago, but have the same essence and are based on the Laws of Saota (vibration-colors) Yasna (laws of attunement with higher Yazatic forces.) No one has the authority to change chop or alter one word or syllable except these Saosyants.
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
In His Service,
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
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