ČISTĀ and Čisti, Avestan derivatives of the verb cit “to notice, to understand.” Čistā is in many respects an enigmatic term. It designates a minor goddess mentioned only in Yt. 16, which is dedicated to her although it is known as the Dēn yašt, and once in Yt. 10.126. Her various epithets, the circumstances in which she is in­voked, and her association with the daēnā seem to indicate that she is closely related to the concept of the path, both the ritual path and the path of the hereafter, although the exact relationship eludes us (Benveniste and Renou). The word itself poses a grammatical problem. The common interpretation as an abstract noun in is difficult to reconcile with the fact that the suffix is never used for primary derivation. More probably čistā is the feminine of the participle čista “noticed, noticeable.” The name of Zarathustra’s younger daughter, Pouručistā, thus probably means “the one who is noticed by many people, the charming one,” not “the one who has many ideas” (AirWb., col. 899: “viel Einsicht besitzend”). The action noun čisti “intuition, idea” (cf. OInd. citti “thinking, understanding”) belongs to the special vocabulary of the Gathas and the Yasna haptaŋhāiti. In the younger Avesta (Yasna, Vispered, Vīdēvdād) Čisti occasionally appears as a divinity associated with Aṧi.



AirWb., cols. 598-99.

E. Benveniste and L. Renou, Vṛtra et Vṛθragna, Cahiers de la Société Asiatique 3, Paris, 1934, pp. 55-64.

Boyce, Zoroastrianism I, p. 62.

I. Gershevitch, The Avestan Hymn to Mithra, Cambridge, 1959, pp. 166-67.

H. Lommel, Die Yäšt’s des Awesta, Göttingen, 1927, pp. 154-58.

Mayrhofer, Dictionary I, p. 387.

J. Narten, Der Yasna Hapta~hāiti, Wiesbaden, 1986, p. 87 n. 2.

H. S. Nyberg, Religionen des alten Irans, Leipzig, 1938, pp. 81-83.

(Jean Kellens)

Originally Published: December 15, 1991

Last Updated: October 20, 2011

This article is available in print.
Fasc. V, Vol. 6, pp. 601-602