Priests Adil Bhesania (wearing Virtual Reality goggles) and Ramiyar Karanjia
1. Yasna Film
2. Priestly Training
3. Editorial Tools
4. Text Editions
The ground-breaking nature of MUYA lies in the fact that it combines two different, yet complementary approaches: one starts from the act of the ritual performance, the other from the manuscripts. In this two-pronged approach, the Yasna will be studied both as an event in the form of a ritual performance and as a text in the form of a literary document. The two procedures will be integrated to answer questions about the meaning and function of the Yasna in a historical perspective. Both approaches will use cutting-edge digital technology.
MUYA’s first objective is to produce a film of the full Yasna ritual and to transcribe the recitation text into Roman letters in order to make the words which the priests utter available to the observer in both aural and visual form. The filming of a full Yasna performance is not only timely but also urgent because the practice of the ritual is declining. While the Zoroastrians of Iran abandoned it some forty years ago, it is still performed in India on a daily basis, though requests are in decline and consequently the ritual know-how, although currently still available, is endangered. A recording of the entire event needs to be undertaken urgently in order to preserve this endangered heritage.
MUYA’s second objective is an investigation of the training of cultic personnel in Zoroastrian priestly schools in India and Iran. Apart from anecdotal accounts, no such study has ever been made and consequently very little is known about how Zoroastrian priests are trained.
The third objective is the development of editorial tools for the edition of the text. MUYA is an interdisciplinary project that combines the latest digital technology with traditional philological techniques. The project has a considerable knowledge transfer dimension as it proposes to adapt and develop the suite of software modules of the Virtual Manuscript Room and its component Workspace for Collaborative Editing, originally developed jointly at the Universities of Münster, Birmingham and Trier . Such modules include an Online Transcription Editor and tools for collation, creation of a text-critical apparatus, regularization of variant readings and genealogical analysis of manuscript dependencies.
MUYA’s fourth objective is to provide in-depth philological studies of selected parts of the Yasna. MUYA proposes six in-depth studies of parts of the Yasna text and ritual. These studies will account for the manuscript tradition, the ritual performance and the primary and secondary sources. Each will be published as a book providing a critical edition of the Avestan text, translation, commentary and a glossary of its vocabulary.