The Gathas
Category: Zoroastrian
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The Gathas are 17 Avestan hymns that are believed to have been composed by Zoroaster himself. The Gathas form the core of the Zoroastrian liturgy, the Yasna, in which they are the oldest and most sacred sections.

The Gāthas.

Yasna XXIX.


(Homage to you, O Sacred Gāthas!)

Unto you (O Ahura and Asha!) the Soul of the Kine (our sacred herds and folk) cried aloud: For whom did ye create me, and by whom did ye fashion me? On me comes the assault of wrath, and of violent power, the blow of desolation, audacious insolence, and (thievish) might. None other pasture-giver have I than you, therefore do ye teach me good (tillage) for the fields (my only hope of welfare)!

Ahura speaks.

Upon this the Creator of the Kine (the holy herds) asked of Righteousness: How (was) thy guardian for the Kine (appointed) by thee when, as having power (over all her fate), ye made her? (In what manner did ye secure) for her, together with pasture, a cattle-chief who was both skilled and likewise energetic? Whom did ye select as her (life’s) master who might hurl back the fury of the wicked?

Asha answers.

To Him the (Divine Righteousness) answered with his sanctity. (Great was our perplexity); a chieftain who war capable of smiting back (their fury), and who was himself without hate (was not to be obtained by us); among such things as these, those things are not to be known (by beings such as we) which are the influences which approach (and move) the lofty fires (revealing the favour and the will of God).

Of beings He is the mightiest to whom those who have performed their actions approach with invocations. (He has no need to ask!)

Zarathuśtra intervenes.

The Great Creator (is himself) most mindful of the uttered indications which have been fulfilled beforehand hitherto in the deeds of demon-gods and (good or evil) men, and of those which shall be fulfilled by them hereafter. He Ahura is the discerning arbiter; so shall it be to us as He shall will!

Therefore it is that we both, my soul and (the soul) of the mother Kine, (are) making our supplications for the two worlds to Ahura, and with hands stretched out in entreaty, when (we pray to the Great Creator with questions in our doubt; (and He will answer).

Not for the righteous liver, not for the thrifty (tiller of the earth), shall there be destruction together with the wicked!


Upon this the Lord, the Great Creator, He who understands the mysterious grace by His insight, spake thus. Not in this manner is a spiritual master found for us, nor a chieftain moved by Righteousness and appointed (in its spirit); therefore Thee have I named (as such a head) to the diligent tiller of the ground!

The Ameshōspends.

Mazda has created the inspired Word-of-reason which is a Mãthra of fatness (for the offering), the (Divine) Righteousness consenting with Him in his deed. Food he has prepared for the Kine and for the eaters, He the one bountiful with his (saving) doctrine; but whom hast Thou, endowed with the Good Mind, who may give forth those (doctrines) by word of mouth to mortals?


This man is found for me here who alone has hearkened to our enunciations, Zarathuśtra Spitama! Our mighty and completed acts of grace he desires to enounce for us, for (Me), the Great Creator and for Righteousness; wherefore I will give him the good abode (and authoritative place) of such an one as speaks!

The Geuś Urvan.

Upon this the Soul of the Kine lamented (: Woe is unto me) since (I have obtained for myself) in my wounding a lord who is powerless to effect (his) wish, the (mere) voice of a feeble and pusillanimous man, whereas I desire one who is lord over his will (and able as one of royal state to bring what he desires to effect).

The Ameshōspends.

((Aye,) when shall he ever appear who may bring to her help strong-handed?)


Do ye, O Ahura and thou, O Righteousness! grant gladness unto these (our disciples), and the sovereign Kingdom (of the Deity) such as (is established) in (His) Good Mind by which one bestows upon them the peaceful amenities of home and quiet happiness (as against the fearful ravages which they suffer), for of these, O Great Creator! I ever thought Thee first possessor!

And when shall the (Divine) Righteousness, the Good Mind (of the Lord, and His) Sovereign Power (come) hastening to me (to give me strength for my task and mission), O Great Creator, the Living Lord! (For without his I cannot advance or undertake my toil.) Do ye now therefore assign unto us your aid and in abundance for our great cause. May we be (partakers) of the bountiful grace of these your equals (your counsellors and servants)!



(A strengthening blessing is the thought, a blessing is the word, a blessing is the deed of the righteous Zarathuśtra. May the Bountiful Immortals accept and help on the chants. Homage to you, O sacred Gāthas!)

With venerating (desire) for this (gift) of gracious help, O Mazda, and stretching forth my hands (to Thee) I pray for the first (blessing) of (Thy) bountiful Spirit; (that is, I beseech of Thee that my) actions pg 18 all (may be performed) in (the Divine) Righteousness; and with this I implore from Thee the understanding of Thy Benevolent Mind, in order that I may propitiate the Soul of the Kine (our herds and folk, which cries so bitterly to Thee).

And therefore, O Great Creator, the Living Lord! (inspired) by Thy Benevolent Mind, I approach You, (and beseech of Thee) to grant me (as a bountiful gift) for both the worlds, the corporeal and (for that) of mind, those attainments which are to be derived from the (Divine) Righteousness, and by means of which (that personified Righteousness within us) may introduce those who are its recipients into beatitude and glory!

O (thou Divine) Righteousness, and thou Benevolent Mind (of Deity)! I will worship you, and Ahura Mazda the first, for all of whom the Pious ready mind (within us) is causing the imperishable Kingdom to advance. (And while I thus utter my supplications to You), come Ye to my calls to help!

(Yea, I will approach You with my supplications, I) who am delivering up (my) mind and soul to that (heavenly) Mount (whither all the redeemed at last must pass), knowing (full well) the holy characteristics and rewards of the (ceremonial and moral) actions (prescribed) by Ahura Mazda. (And) so long as I am able and may have the power, so long will I teach (Your people concerning these holy deeds to be done by them with faith toward God, and) in the desire (for the coming) of the (Divine) Righteousness (within their souls).

And, thou Righteousness! when shall I see (thee, knowing the Good Mind (of God), and above all the personified) Obedience (of our lives which constitutes) the way to the most beneficent Ahura Mazda. (Asking this, I thus beseech thee, for) with this holy word of supplication we most hold off with tongue the flesh-devouring fiends, (the very sign and power of all spiritual foulness)!

And do Thou, O Lord, the Great Creator! come to me with Thy Good Mind; and do Thou, who bestowest gifts through Thy Righteousness, bestow alike long-lasting life on us. And (that this life may be spent aright, do) Thou by means of Thy lofty words (bestow) the (needed) powerful spiritual help upon Zarathuśtra and upon us, whereby we may overcome the torments of the tormentor.

(And) do thou, O (Divine) Righteousness, bestow (upon me) that sacred blessing which is constituted by the attainments of the Good Mind (within my soul); and do thou also, O Piety! grant unto Vīśtāspa and to me our wish; (yea) may’st Thou grant (us), O Mazda, ruler (as Thou art! that grace) whereby we may hear (with understanding) Thy benignant words.

That best (of gifts therefore) do I beseech (of Thee), O Thou best (of beings) Ahura! who art one in will with (Thy Divine) Righteousness (within us, likewise), the best (of spirits), desiring it (as I now do) for the (heroic) man Frashaośtra, and for me, upon whom also may’st Thou bestow it (not for time alone), but for all the ages of Thy Good Mind (that reign of Thy Benevolence which shall be to us as Heaven)!

And (impressed and moved) by these gifts of strengthening grace (which Thou may’st give in answer to these prayers) may we never anger You, O Ahura Mazda! (nor Thy) Righteousness (within us), nor yet Thy Kindly Mind (toward us), since we have most earnestly made effort (helping to advance Your cause) in the (chanted) offering of Your praisers, for most easy to be invoked (are Ye). (Yours are verily both) the desire for (spiritual) blessings (for us), and the (Divine) Possession (of their power).

And therefore do Thou, O Lord, the Great Creator! fill up and satisfy (my) desire with these attainments (of the grace) of Thy Good Mind, which Thou dost know to be derived from Righteousness, (and) which (are verily) sublime, for I have known Thine instructions to be never void of their effect (in the struggles) for our (daily) food, and therefore worthy objects of desire.

(Yea, I approach Thee with my prayers, I) who by these (great gifts of grace) will protect ((Thy) Divine Righteousness, and (Thy) Good Mind within us) for ever. And do Thou therefore, O Ahura Mazda! teach me from Thyself, yea, from Thine own mouth of spirit, that I may declare it forth to (these Thy waiting people) by what (powers and according to what laws) the primeval world arose!

Yasna XXX.


And now I will proclaim, O ye who are drawing near and seeking to be taught! those animadversions which appertain to Him who knows (all things) whatsoever; the praises which are for Ahura, and the sacrifices (which spring) from the Good Mind, and likewise the benignant meditations inspired by Righteousness. And I pray that propitious results may be seen in the lights.

Hear ye then with your ears; see ye the bright flames with the (eyes of the) Better Mind. It is for a decision as to religions, man and man, each individually for himself. Before the great effort of the cause, awake ye (all) to our teaching!

Thus are the primeval spirits who as a pair (combining their opposite strivings), and (yet each) independent in his action, have been famed (of old). (They are) a better thing, they two, and a worse, as to thought, as to word, and as to deed. And between these two let the wisely acting choose aright. (Choose ye) not (as) the evil-doers!

(Yea) when the two spirits came together at the first to make life, and life’s absence, and to determine how the world at the last shall be (ordered), for the wicked (Hell) the worst life, for the holy (Heaven) the Best Mental State,

(Then when they had finished each his part in the deeds of creation, they chose distinctly each his separate realm.) He who was the evil of them both (chose the evil), thereby working the worst of possible results, but the more bounteous spirit chose the pg 31 Righteousness; (yea, He so chose) who clothes upon Himself the firm stones of heaven (as His robe). And He chose likewise them who content Ahura with actions, which (are performed) really in accordance with the faith.

And between these two spirits the Demon-gods (and they who give them worship) can make no righteous choice, since we have beguiled them. As they were questioning and debating in their council the (personified) Worst Mind approached them that he might be chosen. (They made their fatal decision.) And thereupon they rushed together unto the Demon of Fury, that they might pollute the lives of mortals.

Upon this Āramaiti (the personified Piety of the saints) approached, and with her came the Sovereign Power, the Good Mind, and the Righteous Order. And (to the spiritual creations of good and of evil) Āramaiti gave a body, she the abiding and ever strenuous. And for these (Thy people) so let (that body) be (at the last), O Mazda! as it was when Thou camest first with creations!

And (when the great struggle shall have been fought out which began when the Daēvas first seized the Demon of Wrath as their ally), and when the (just) vengeance shall have come upon these wretches, then, O Mazda! the Kingdom shall have been gained for Thee by (Thy) Good Mind (within Thy folk). For to those, O living Lord! does (that Good Mind) utter his command, who will deliver the Demon of the Lie into the two hands of the Righteous Order (as a captive to a destroyer).

And may we be such as those who bring on this great renovation, and make this world progressive, (till its perfection shall have been reached). (As) the Ahuras of Mazda (even) may we be; (yea, like Thyself), in helpful readiness to meet (Thy people), presenting (benefits) in union with the Righteous Order. For there will our thoughts be (tending) where true wisdom shall abide in her home.

(And when perfection shall have been attained) then shall the blow of destruction fall upon the Demon of Falsehood, (and her adherents shall perish with her), but swiftest in the happy abode of the Good Mind and of Ahura the righteous saints shall gather, they who proceed in their walk (on earth) in good repute (and honour).

Wherefore, O ye men! ye are learning (thus) these religious incitations which Ahura gave in (our) happiness and (our) sorrow. (And ye are also learning) what is the long wounding for the wicked, and the blessings which are in store for the righteous. And when these (shall have begun their course), salvation shall be (your portion)!

Yasna XXXI.


These doctrines (therefore) we are earnestly declaring to You as we recite them forth from memory, words (till now) unheard (with faith) by those who by means of the doctrinal vows of the harmful Lie are delivering the settlements of Righteousness to death, but words which are of the best unto those who are heartily devoted to Ahura.

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