The Gathas alone within the Avesta make claim to be the ipsissima verba of the prophet; in the rest of that work they are put into Zoroaster's own mouth (Yasna, 9, 1) and are expressly called "the Gathas of the holy Zoroaster" (Yasna, 57, 8).
The Gathas alone claim to be authentic utterances of Zoroaster, his actual expressions in presence of the assembled congregation.
He whom we hear in the Gathas has had to face, not merely all forms of outward opposition and the unbelief and lukewarmness of adherents, but also the inward misgivings of his own heart as to the truth and final victory of his cause.
So soon as the point of view is clear - that in the Gathas we have firm historical ground on which Zoroaster and his surroundings may rest, that here we have the beginnings of the Zoroastrian religion - then it becomes impossible to answer otherwise than affirmatively every general question as to the historical character of Zoroaster.
Yet we must not expect too much from the Gathas in the way of definite detail.
In the Gathas he appears as a quite historical personage; it is essentially to his power and good example that the prophet is indebted for his success.
We are quite ignorant as to the date of Zoroaster; King Vishtaspa does not seem to have any place in any historical chronology, and the Gathas give no hint on the subject.
In the Gathas the Good Spirit of Mazda and the Evil Spirit are the two great opposing forces in the world, and Ormazd himself is to a certain extent placed above them both.
The daevas, unmasked and attacked by Zoroaster as the true enemies of mankind, are still, in the Gathas, without doubt the perfectly definite gods of old popular belief - the idols of the people.
The authentic doctrine of the Gathas had no room either for the cult of Mithra or for that of the Haoma.
Beyond the Lord and his Fire, the Gathas only recognize the archangels and certain ministers of Ormazd, who are, without exception, personifications of abstract ideas.
The essence of the wicked spirit is falsehood: and falsehood, as the embodiment of the evil principle, is much more frequently mentioned in the Gathas than Ahriman himself.
The evil spirit with his wicked hosts appears in the Gathas much less endowed with the attributes of personality and individuality than does Ahura Mazda.
The contents of the Gathas are essentially eschatological.
Through the whole of the Gathas runs the pious hope that the end of the present world is not far distant.
The Gathas know nothing of a new belief which afterwards arose in the Fravashi, or guardian angels of the faithful.
Just as the Gathas (the ancient Zoroastrian hymns) omit Gaokerena, and the Hebrew prophets on the whole avoid mythological phrases, so this old Hebrew thinker prunes the primitive exuberance of the traditional myth.
The ancient Gathas, which were supposed to be the composition of Zarathustra himself, received the homage of later worshippers.'
The possibility that Zoroaster himself was not a native of East Iran,but had immigrated thither (from Rhagae?), is of course always to be considered; and this theory has been used to explain the phenomenon that the Gathas, of his own composition, are written in a different dialect from the rest of the Avesta.
If, then, the gathas reach back to the time of Zoroaster, and he himself, according to the most probable estimate, lived as early as the 14th century B.C., the oldest component parts of the Avesta are hardly inferior in age to the oldest Vedic hymns.
The kernel of the whole book, around which the remaining portions are grouped, consists of the Gathas or " hymns " of Zoroaster (q.v.), the oldest and most sacred portion of the entire canon.
(b) The Gathas (chaps.
The Gathas proper, arranged according to the metres in which they are written, fall into five subdivisions (28 -34, 43-4 6, 47-5 0, 51, 53).
With Mitra and Varuna (Grassmann, Warterbuch, s.v.); in Zend, according to Bartholomae (Altiranisches Warterbuch, s.v.), from the earliest literature, the Gathas, there is nothing definite to be learnt regarding Airyaman.
Between chap. 37 and chap. 43 is inserted the so-called Seven-Chapter Yasna (haptanghaiti), a number of small prose pieces not far behind the Gathas in antiquity.
To this class, above all, belong the Gathas and the nucleus of the greater Yashts.
Its oldest portions, the Gathas, proceed from the prophet himself.
As the Gathas now constitute the kernel of the most sacred prayer-book, viz.
But when they pass beyond this narrow sphere, as particularly in the Gathas, the Pahlavi translator becomes a defective and unreliable interpreter.
The Gathas are quite unique in their kind.