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The Gathas designate the five oldest hymns of the work as part of the Avestas , the sacred scripture of Zoroastrianism , the teaching of the Iranian founder of the religion Zarathustra , which are considered to come from the person of Zarathustra and as such differ from the other, more recent ones in terms of linguistics and content Distinguish parts of the text. They also form part of Yasna , the first book of Avestas.

The word "Gatha" ( Gāθā ) means "hymn" or "song" in Avestan and can be traced back to the stem "Gâ" ("poetry", "sing"). In Middle and New Persian this word appears as Gāh (گاه), in the plural as Gāhān (گاهان), and also means “time” and “place”. We also encounter the word Gāh in Iranian music , where it is used as a suffix in various terms, such as in the Dastgahs "Sehgāh" and "Čahārgāh".

The Gathas consist of a total of 17 hymns and form sections 28–34, 43–46, 47–50, 51 and 53 of the Yasnas. They are divided into the following five sections:

Ahunavaiti Gatha
Uštavaiti Gatha
Spentâ Mainyu Gatha
Vohu Xšathra Gatha
Vahišto Išti Gatha

This classification of the gathas is not based on content, but on the basis of metrics and formal criteria. The contents of the different parts of a gatha are sometimes not in a common context. This is taken as an indication that Zarathustra had a part of the liturgy initially spoken in prose followed by a hymn with a corresponding content for the purpose of condensing and imprinting it, which can also be well demonstrated in later Persian literature . B. Saadi ( Sa'dī ) in " Golestan " ( Golestān ) or in Jami ( Jāmī ) in "Bahārestan" ( Bahārestān ).

In terms of content, the gathas are partly addressed to the creator Ahura Mazda , but partly also to the audience who are obviously present. They reveal a clear temporal component in Zarathustra's life, within the framework of which his inner development related to his belief and decision-making processes in the course of his path as well as his external, biographical path appear.

In the Gathas Zarathustra formulates essential ideas about the path of man in the universe and his possibilities to live in harmony with truthfulness and the right order ( Asha ) and thus to walk a fulfilled path of life. Here, clear contours and contents of the ancient Iranian philosophy of Zoroaster are visible, which are seen in part in contrast to developments in the later Zoroastrian texts, such as the Vendidads des Avestas.


  • A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary . DN MacKenzie. Routledge Curzon, 2005.
  • An Intermediate Persian Dictionary . Six volumes. M. Mo'in. Amir Kabir Publications, 1992.
  • The Heritage of Zarathushtra - New translation of his Gathas . Humbach / Ichaporia. C. Winter University Press, 1994.
  • Avesta. Translation of the text . Jalil Doostkhah. Morvarid, 1996.
  • Encyclopedia Iranica . Edited by Ehsan Yarshater.
  • Encyclopaedia of Ancient Iran . Hashem-e Razi, Tehran, Sokhan, 2002.
  • Gatha - The teaching of Zarathustra. B. Varza. Books on Demand, 2008. ISBN 978-3-8370-8814-4 .
  • Translations: J. Darmesteter, LH Mills, F. Wolff. See [1] .

Notes and individual references

  1. lit. "Place on the third degree [the scale]".
  2. lit. “Place on the fourth level” (see previous footnote).

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