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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Gāthā literally means ‘song’.

The word gāthā used in the Ṛgveda usually denotes a song or a verse. In later Vedic literature including the Ṛgveda,[1] the Atharvaveda[2] and the Aitareya Brāhmana[3] it seems to have acquired a more technical flavor, indicating a religious, poetical composition. It is not considered as a mantra like the ṛk or the sāman.

Two well-known gāthās need a special mention here:

  1. The gāthā-nārāśamsi - The nārāśarhsi-gāthā is in praise of the deity that grants the power of speech to children.
  2. The gāthā-raibhī - The raibhi-gāthā enabled the ṛṣis and the performers of sacrifice to go to heaven.

The three ṛks of the Atharvaveda mentioned above, are the first. The latter gāthā is the group of three ṛks in the same section of the Atharvaveda.[4]


  1. Ṛgveda 10.85.6
  2. Atharvaveda 20.127.1 to 3
  3. Aitareya Brāhmana 10.32
  4. Atharvaveda 20.127.4 to 6
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore