GATHA, title of Guru Arjan`s composition comprising twenty-four verses included in the Guru Granth Sahib. In Sanskrit writings, gdthd stands for a religious verse of non Vedic origin, a stanza or a song. In Prakrit and Buddhist traditions, the term signifies averse, a line of poetry, song, stanza or aphorism. The language of the Buddhist Sanskrit texts has also been referred to by some scholars as gdthd. According to Sikh commentators, gdthd, in the context of the verses of Guru Arjan, denotes the language used in these verses which is a mixture of Sanskrit, Pali and Prakrit.
Another name of this language form is Sahaskriti. The central theme of the Gdthd verses is the praise of God and the importance of devotion to Him. These verses are “a discourse on the Name of God which serves as an arrow to pierce `the five enemies` and to efface pride” (6); a discourse, profound and inexhaustible, and one which if comprehended truly leads one to overcome worldly desires and to repeat God`s Name in the company of the holy (10); and a paean which from the most ancient times the blessed saints have recited (18).These verses lament that the ignorant give themselves up to carnal pleasures.
Remembrance of His Name alone will stand by man after his death (3); separation from Him brings only disease and sorrow (24). Liberation cannot be obtained without the company of the holy (2). The saint whose company is obtained only by good fortune washes away the evil of pride and ego from one`s heart (16). Man is adjured to devote himself to God without which there is no rescue from the circuit of transmigration (20).