s of Zoroastrianism
. The Avesta is bundled with its Zend
or Zand or commentary
, and the two together are called the Zend-Avesta
. The Zend are not so binding on Zoroastrian
s as the Avesta.
The original Avesta dates from an unknown time, at least as early as the sixth century BCE, and is in an ancient Persian language called Avesta or Avestan (sometimes mistakenly called Zend). The Zend commentaries are in a later Persian language called Pahlavi.
The earliest parts of the Avesta are the Gathas, or hymns to Zarathustra (Zoroaster), founder of the religion. The Yasna is the central part consisting of the Gathas. This is extended into the Visperad; there is the Khorda Avesta or book of common prayer; and the Vendidad, consisting of miscellaneous myths, observances, and rites.