Gatha[pronunciation?] is a type of metered and often rhythmic poetic verse or a phrase in the ancient Indian languages of Prakrit and Sanskrit. The word is originally derived from the Sanskrit/Prakrit root gai, which means, to speak, sing, recite or extol. Hence gatha can mean either speech, verse or a song. The stanzas of the Prakrit dialects of Ardhamagadhi, Sauraseni and Pāli are known as gathas as opposed to shlokas and Sutras of Sanskrit and Dohas of Apabhramsha. Most of the Jain and Buddhist texts written in Prakrit are composed of gathas (or verses/stanzas).
Thus, gatha can mean any of the following:
- Prakrit and Pali verses in general,
- Arya meter of Sanskrit was also known as gatha,
- A particular meter in Prakrit similar to arya meter of Sanskrit,
- Versified portions of Pali canon (Tipitaka) of Theravada Buddhism are also called specifically as gathas.
- Sujit Mukherjee (1998), A Dictionary of Indian Literature Hyderabad: Orient Longman ISBN – 81-250-1453-5 page 110
- Amaresh Datta (1988) Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2 Chennai: Sahitya Academy ISBN 81-260-1194-7 p. 1373
- Amaresh Datta (1988) Encyclopaedia of Indian literature vol. 2 Chennai: Sahitya Academy ISBN 81-260-1194-7 p. 1374