Least known Facts about the Gathas

Least known Facts about the Gathas  (Abridged summary of the Paper presented at European Conference 2009)

Dr. Pallan Ichaporia,-Mainz Universitat.


The Gathas were only fragmentarily comprehensible even to the more intelligent among Zarathushtra’s lay contemporaries, and long before the restoration of the Mazdayasnian Religion in the Sasanian period also the priestly tradition seems to have lost a reliable knowledge of the contents of these holy texts, of their poetical style, of their syntactical and morphological rules, and the lexical meanings of numerous words, (see Malandra and Ichaporia, “The Pahlavi Yasna of the Gathas and Yasna Hapantghaiti”, 2010, p.271.)


It is the power of these texts and their recitation which continues to be relevant to this day.  The interpretation of the Gathas as a religious textbook or a code of laws, or even as a collection of Sermons is likely to be rather recent. Slightly modifying such views, a great many modern scholars start out from the premise that the Gathas are a systematic though complicated exposition of the basic tenets of the religion preached by Zarathushtra.  Yet neither this nor the above tallies with the facts.   Just a glance to the statistics of the use of the vocative case in the Gathas makes evident that these most holy texts are invocation of Ahura Mazda and philosophical conversations with Him, the initiated one par excellence, where as human persons are apostrophized only occasionally in a sort of rhetorical digression.

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