GAOTƎMA, an Avestan proper name only attested in Yt. 13.16: “An eloquent man will be born, who makes his words heard in verbal contests, whose judgment is sought after, who comes away from the discussion victorious over the defeated Gaotəma.” The word is a superlative formation of Av. gaṷ- “neat, cow” (Kellens, p. 404, but it cannot be excluded that it is a borrowing from Skt. gótama- or gautama- (descendant of Gotama), also epithet of Buddha (Pāli gotama-). So the idea arose (Herzfeld, pp. 628 ff.; Altheim and Stiehl, pp. 17-20) that the Avestan passage refers to a historical dispute between Zoroaster and Buddha, i.e., between a Zoroastrian and a Buddhist (so at least Herzfeld, pp. 628 ff. and Altheim and Stiehl, pp. 17-20). Hertel (p. 140) sees in Gaotəma the Vedic Rṣi Gótama (attested often in the Rigveda) or a member of his family. Modern research views these theories negatively (see Mayrhofer, 1992, I, p. 497 with further literature). It is also possible that the proper name Ka-u-da-ma of the Persepolis tablets is linguistically the same as Gaotəma (Mayrhofer 1973, p. 180; Idem, 1979, p. 47).



F. Altheim und R. Stiehl, Geschichte Mittelasiens im Altertum, Berlin, 1970.

J. Hertel, Die awestischen Herrschafts- und Siegesfeuer, Abh. der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 41/6, Leipzig, 1931.

E. Herzfeld, Zoroaster and His World, Princeton, 1947.

J. Kellens, Les noms-racines de l’Avesta, Wiesbaden, 1974.

M. Mayrhofer, Onomastica Persepolitana, Wien, 1973.

Idem, Die altiranischen Namen, Wien, 1979.

Idem, Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Altindoarischen I, Heidelberg, 1992.

(Bernfried Schlerath)

Originally Published: December 15, 2000

Last Updated: February 2, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 3, p. 290