The Zend Avesta, Part I (SBE04), James Darmesteter, tr. , at sacred-texts.com
Thrita was the first who drove back death and disease, as Ahura Mazda had brought to him down from heaven ten thousand healing plants that had been growing up around the tree of eternal life, the white Hôm or Gaokerena.
This Thrita is mentioned only once again in the Avesta, in Yasna IX, 7, where he appears to have been one of the first priests of Haoma. This accounts for his medical skill; as Haoma is a source of life and health, his first priests must have been the first healers.
Thrita was originally the same as Thraêtaona 1. On one hand, we see that in the Rig-veda the great feat of Thraêtaona is ascribed to Trita as well as to Traitâna, and Trita Âptya, 'the son of the waters,' was as well the celestial priest who pours Haoma into rain as the celestial hero who kills the snake in storms. On the other hand, we see that Thraêtaona fulfilled the same functions as Thrita: according to Hamza he was the inventor of medicine 2; the Tavids 3 against sickness are inscribed with his name, and we find in the Avesta itself the Fravashi of Thraêtaona invoked 'against itch, hot fever, humours, cold fever 4, vâvareshi, against the plagues created by the serpent 5.' We see from this passage that disease was understood as coming from the serpent; in other words, that it was considered a sort of poisoning 6, and this is the reason why the
killer of the serpent was invoked to act against it. Thus Thrita-Thraêtaona had a double right to the title of the first of the healers, both as a priest of Haoma and as the conqueror of the serpent 1.
1. Zarathustra asked Ahura Mazda: 'Ahura Mazda, most beneficent Spirit, Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! Who was he who first of the healthful 2, the wise, the happy, the wealthy, the glorious, the strong men of yore 3, drove back sickness to sickness, drove back death to death 4, and first turned away the point of the poniard and the fire of fever from the bodies of mortals.'
2 (11). Ahura Mazda answered: ‘Thrita it was who first of the healthful, the wise, the happy, the wealthy, the glorious, the strong man of yore, drove back sickness to sickness, drove back death to death, and first turned away the point of the poniard and the fire of fever from the bodies of mortals.
3 (12). ‘He asked for a source of remedies 5; he obtained it from Khshathra-Vairya 6, to withstand sickness and to withstand death, to withstand pain and fever, to withstand the disease 7, rottenness and
infection which Angra Mainyu had created witchcraft against the bodies of mortals 1.
4 (15). ‘And I Ahura Mazda brought down the healing plants that, by many hundreds, by many thousands, by many myriads, grow up all around the one Gaokerena 2.
5 (18). ‘All this (health) do we call by our blessing-spells, by our prayers, by our praises, upon the bodies of mortals 3.
7 (19) 4. ‘To thee, O Sickness, I say avaunt! to thee, O Death, I say avaunt! to thee, O Pain, I say avaunt! to thee, O Fever, I say avaunt! to thee, O Disease, I say avaunt 5!
8 (21). ‘By their might may we smite down the Drug! By their might may we smite the Drug! May they give to us strength and power, O Ahura 1!
9 2 (23). ‘I drive away sickness, I drive away death, I drive away pain and fever 3, I drive away the disease, rottenness, and infection which Angra Mainyu has created by his witchcraft against the bodies of mortals.
10 (25). ‘I drive away all manner of diseases and deaths, all the Yâtus and Pairikas 4, and all the wicked Gainis 5.
11 (26). ‘May the much-desired Airyaman 6; come here, for the men and women of Zarathustra to rejoice, for the faithful to rejoice; with the desirable reward that is won by means of the law, and with that boon for holiness that is vouchsafed by Ahura!
12 (29). 'May the much-desired Airyaman smite
all manner of diseases and deaths, all the Yâtus and Pairikas, and all the wicked Gainis.'
[13. Yathâ ahû vairyô:--the will of the Lord is the law of holiness; the riches of Vohu-manô shall be given to him who works in this world for Mazda, and wields according to the will of Ahura the power he gave to him to relieve the poor.
Kem nâ mazdâ:--whom hast thou placed to protect me, O Mazda! while the hate of the fiend is grasping me? Whom but thy Atar and Vohu-manô, by whose work the holy world goes on? Reveal to me the rules of thy law!
Ke verethrem gâ:--who is he who will smite the fiend in order to maintain thy ordinances? Teach me clearly thy rules for this world and for the next, that Sraosha may come with Vohu-manô and help whomsoever thou pleasest.
Keep us from our hater, O Mazda and Ârmaiti Spenta! Perish, O fiendish Drug! Perish, O brood of the fiend! Perish, O world of the fiend! Perish away, O Drug! Perish away to the regions of the north, never more to give unto death the living world of the holy spirit!] 1
219:1 See Introd. IV, 14.
219:2 Ed. Gottwaldt, p. 23; cf. Mirkhond, Early Kings of Persia, Shea, p. 152.
219:3 Formulas of exorcism.
219:4 Cf. Farg. VII, 58.
219:5 Yasht XIII, 131.
219:6 This theory, which modern science would not utterly reject, accounts for the great part which the serpent plays in the worship of Asklepios; as sickness comes from him, from him too must or may come the healing.
220:1 It seems as if in the Vedas, too, Trita had been a healing god (Rig-veda VIII, 47, 13 seq.)
220:2 Whom no weapon could wound, like Isfendiâr (Comm.)
220:3 Or better, Paradhâta (or Pêshdâd), 'the kings of yore,' which became the name of the first Iranian dynasty.
220:4 'That is to say, who kept sickness in bonds, who kept death in bonds' (Comm.)
220:6 As Khshathra-Vairya presides over metals, it was a knife he received, 'of which the point and the base were set in gold.' He was therefore the first who healed with the knife (cf. Farg. VII, 44); and it appears from § 4 that he was also the first who healed with herbs, As for the healing with the holy word, see Farg. XXII.
221:1 The Vendîdâd Sâdah has here eight names of diseases: to withstand Sârana (head-ache), to withstand Sârastya (cold fever), to withstand Azana, to withstand Azahva, to withstand Kurugha, to withstand Azivâka, to withstand Duruka, and to withstand Astairya.
221:2 The white Hôm, which is the king of healing plants (see Introd. IV, 28). The healing plants are said to have been created ten thousand in number, in order to oppose so many diseases that had been created by Ahriman (Bundahis IX; cf. Farg XXII, 2). In India also, healing plants are said to have come down from heaven: 'Whilst coming down from heaven, the plants said: He will never suffer any wound, the mortal whom we both touch' (Rig-veda X, 97, 17; cf. Haurvatât et Ameretât, §§ 46-47).
221:3 Or possibly, All those (plants) do we bless, all those (plants) do we pray, all those (plants) do we praise, for (the weal of) the bodies of mortals.
221:4 Vendîdâd Sâdah: 6. To withstand sickness, to withstand death, to withstand pain, to withstand fever, to withstand Sârana, to withstand Sârastya, to withstand Azana, to withstand Azahva, to withstand Kurugha, to withstand Azivâka, to withstand Duruka, to withstand Astairya, to withstand the disease, rottenness, and infection which Angra Mainyu has created by his witchcraft against the bodies of mortals.
221:5 Vendîdâd Sâdah: To thee O Sârana, I say avaunt! to thee, p. 222 O Sârastya, I say avaunt! to thee, O Azana, I say avaunt! to thee, O Azahva, I say avaunt! to thee, O Kurugha, I say avaunt! to thee, O Azivâka, I say avaunt! to thee, O Duruka, I say avaunt! to thee, O Astairya, I say avaunt!
222:1 This clause is borrowed, with some alteration, from Yasna XXXI, 4; the original text is, 'May the strong power come to me, by the might of which we may smite down the Drug!'
222:2 The Vendîdâd Sâdah has, 'I drive away Ishirê, I drive away Aghûirê, I drive away Aghra, I drive away Ughra.'
222:3 The Vendîdâd Sâdah has, 'I drive away Sârana, I drive away Sârastya, I drive away Azana, I drive away Azahva, I drive away Kurugha, I drive away Azivâka, I drive away Duruka, I drive away Astairya.'
222:4 See Introd. IV, 20-21.
222:5 'Gai' (Comm.), that is Gahi (see Introd. IV, 5); cf. p. 89, note 1, and Farg. XXII, 2, note.
222:6 Or better, 'Airyaman, the bestower of good.' On Airyaman, see Farg. XXII. Clauses 11-12 are borrowed from Yasna LIV, 1, and form the prayer known as Airyama-ishyô.
223:1 From the Vendîdâd Sâdah.