Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • An intelligent person asked the trees: “Why is it that the higher you grow, the deeper you sink your roots?” They replied: “You are a thoughtful person, how can you not be aware that we would be unable to bear so many heavy branches and resist the power of the wind if we did not sink our roots deep into the ground?” The sand-box tree (hachari) and the pine (p’ichi) do not grow deep roots. They are unable to resist powerful winds because their roots are shallow.”

    This fable by Mkhitar Gosh counsels those who want to establish spiritual and physical stability to consecrate the time to build a strong foundation like trees that have deep roots that are able to withstand the power of strong winds.

    It is wise to start off with a firm base in order to pass the tests of time. If a tree grows on shallow land with short roots, it will not be able to resist strong winds that blow its branches and trunk. It will be easily uprooted.

    In Matthew 7.24-27, Jesus tells the parable of the two houses.

    “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

    Jesus asked the question : “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” He said there are two types of people in the world. One, the wise person, comes to him, hears his words, and then uses them to guide his actions in life. The foolish person hears the words of Jesus but does not follow them.

    The wise man builds his life on the rock of Jesus Christ, and that life will stand when the storms of life come. The foolish man builds his life on another foundation (his intellect, his talent, worldly wisdom, and speculative philosophies), which is compared to a weak foundation. When the storms of life come, that house will collapse.

    The entire Sermon on the Mount follows. It is a great lesson in Christian teaching.

    Matthew 5-7:27 (New International Version)
    New International Version (NIV)

    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
    [NIV at IBS] [International Bible Society] [NIV at Zondervan] [Zondervan]

    Matthew 5
    The Beatitudes
    1Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2and he began to teach them saying:
    3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    5Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    7Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    9Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called sons of God.
    10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    11″Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    Salt and Light
    13″You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

    14″You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
    The Fulfillment of the Law
    17″Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
    21″You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,[a] and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother[b]will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,[c]‘ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

    23″Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.

    25″Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.[d]
    27″You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’[e] 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
    31″It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’[f] 32But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
    33″Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ 34But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
    An Eye for an Eye
    38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
    Love for Enemies
    43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
    Matthew 6
    Giving to the Needy
    1″Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

    2″So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    5″And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

    9″This, then, is how you should pray:
    ” ‘Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name,
    10your kingdom come,
    your will be done
    on earth as it is in heaven.
    11Give us today our daily bread.
    12Forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    13And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.[j]‘ 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
    16″When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    Treasures in Heaven
    19″Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

    22″The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

    24″No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
    Do Not Worry
    25″Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[k]?

    28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
    Matthew 7
    Judging Others
    1″Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3″Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    6″Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
    Ask, Seek, Knock
    7″Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

    9″Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
    The Narrow and Wide Gates
    13″Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
    A Tree and Its Fruit
    15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

    21″Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
    The Wise and Foolish Builders
    24″Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

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  • Is there a curse on the Armenian People – Part 1

    Have you ever wondered why the Armenian people have suffered so much throughout history especially since they declared Christianity their state religion. I have pondered this question for most of my life and searched for an answer.
    I am not a prophet or a soothsayer, but I try to study questions seriously and not always in the box, or within a conventional framework of learning where the accepted assumptions often preclude finding the right answer. It is similar to the person who lost his keys and was searching for them under a street lamp. A passerby stopped and asked him if he lost something. He said, “Yes.” The passerby asked if he lost the keys under the street lamp. The searcher replied, “No.” The passerby asked where did the searcher lose his keys. He replied “Over there,” and pointed to a dark area near a park. The passerby asked, “Why are you looking for your keys here under the street lamp?” The searcher said, “Because there is light here and no light there.”
    Of course, he will never find his keys because he is looking in the wrong place. His search is comparable to staying “within the box of conventional assumptions” to find an answer. The question of human suffering and particularly of the Armenians is of universal importance. It is not subject to national or ethnic conventions or assumptions. This means that there are universal laws that operate on individuals and sometimes collectively on ethnic groups or nations whether the people understand them or not. These laws are race and gender blind. They cannot be understood without appeal to higher order spiritual truths which are exemplified by great spiritual preceptors like Jesus Christ.
    One must look to universal principles of truth to find the enigmatic answer. Once we clearly understand the cause of the suffering, then we can do something to correct it by God’s grace and come out of this terrible predicament of continual destruction of the culture and people of Armenia as well as all other peoples and races.
    A question to ask: “Is there an ancient curse on the Armenian people that has plagued them throughout our Christian history and is still pertinent today?”
    We can understand something from the result or judge the act by the result. After 17 centuries or more of becoming a Christian Nation we have suffered terribly not because of Christianity. I want to emphasize that Christianity in the words of Jesus Christ teaches tolerance, forbearance and forgiveness. Hope, faith and charity are the words by which a Christian lives. The Bible teaches,
    Luke 6:27-29
    27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
    28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
    29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.
    Christianity in its pure form is not the religion of violence and brute force. Its force is the purity of the love and dedication to spreading the message of Jesus Christ and the hope He gives to all people for salvation. Christianity, by virtue of its teaching, is not at fault.
    If there is a curse on the Armenians, it may be traced to the beginning of Christianity in Armenia and later, the establishment of Christianity as a state religion. The story of how Christianity was established as the state religion in Armenia has many admirable and some troubling aspects to it. Very few situations are black and white. There are often grey areas that complicate or confound our understanding. As a well wisher of Armenians (and especially since I was born into an Armenian family), I want to discuss this question although it may seem to be anathema by most Armenians to question the establishment of Christianity in Armenia. Why would such a discussion seem inappropriate? The answer is that the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Armenia has been heralded as the defining event that has solidified the Armenian identity, caused the development of the unique Armenian alphabet and superb translation of the Bible and many ancient texts, and inspired tremendous artistic, poetic, and architectural marvels that have demonstrated the greatness of the Armenian genius. To question the establishment of Christianity in Armenia as the state religion might appear like an attempt to undermine the most glorious period of Armenian history.
    This, however, would be a false argument. I am not questioning Christianity or the Armenian genius that was inspired by Christianity. I am going to examine some of the events and their consequences that took place during the period of conversion of most of Armenia to Christianity. It may be that some of the events that took place during the conversion of Armenians to Christianity provoked a curse on the Armenian people.
    I want to summarize the early history of Christianity in Armenia before the establishment of it as a state religion. During the reign of Tigran the Great, 95-66 B.C., the Armenian Empire extended from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea to the Caspian Sea. There were Jewish settlements in the major cities of ancient Armenia. The earliest preachers of Christianity began their missions in the Jewish communities. This is understandable since the apostles of Jesus were Jews who became disciples of Jesus Christ.
    Eusebius of Caesarea, a fourth century Church historian and priest, records an exchange of letters between an Armenian king named Abgar and Jesus. King Abgar wrote a letter to Jesus asking him to come to Edessa (in Lesser Armenia) to have the protection of his kingdom and also to cure him of leprosy. It is said that Jesus appreciated Abgar’s invitation but declined to go. He did promise to send one of his disciples. After the ascension of Jesus, the Apostle Thomas sent Thaddeus, one of the Seventy, early followers of Jesus mentioned in the Gospel of Luke 10:1-24, to King Abgar.
    The Apostle St. Thaddeus, arriving in Edessa, resided at the house of a Jewish nobleman Tubia. About the year 44 A.D., Thaddeus cured King Abgar of leprosy. After preaching throughout lesser Armenia, he ordained Bishop Addeh to serve in his absence as his temporary replacement of the Church and left for Greater Armenia to preach the Word of God. According to the Holy Tradition, Bishop Addeh was a royal robe maker by trade, and the maker of mitres to the Edessan court. After St. Thaddeus departed, King Abgar’s son, who ascended the throne after his father’s death, re-established paganism. He demanded that Bishop Addeh make him a mitre. Bishop Addeh refused, and soon after was martyred. He is remembered as St. Addeh.
    St. Thaddeus continued his preaching in Greater Armenia, and converted many followers, including Princess Sandukht, the daughter of King Sanatruk of Shavarshan, in the province of Artaz. When the king learned of his daughter’s conversion, he used every means possible to convince her to return to paganism. Exhausting all efforts, the king finally offered his daughter a choice between Christianity and death or paganism and her crown. Remaining steadfast in her faith, she chose death, and became the first woman saint of the Armenian Church. In addition to her martyrdom, St. Sandukht is also remembered for her efforts in converting others.
    By the order of King Sanatruk, St. Thaddeus, along with his converts, was martyred soon after the princess in 66 A.D., for preaching Christianity. Before he was killed, St. Thaddeus secretly buried the remains of St. Sandukht. A monk named Giragos discovered the remains of St. Thaddeus and St. Sandukht near a field of Shavarshan, sometime in the 4th or early 5th century.
    St. Bartholomew arrived in Armenia after preaching in Persia, during the 29th year of King Sanatruk’s reign. He converted the king’s sister Voguhy and many nobles. He also was martyred by King Sanatruk’s orders in 68 A.D., in the city of Arebanos, which was situated between Lakes Van and Urmia.
    From this history, we can understand that Christianity was spread in Armenia at great peril to the early preachers and converts. St. Bartholomew was one of the original twelve apostles and St Thaddeus was one of the seventy disciples sent by Jesus to spread the new religion. These early preachers and converts were an example of the teaching of Jesus as quoted by St Matthew 38-48:
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
    Love for Enemies
    43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[b] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies[c] and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
    Jesus set a new standard that was not based only on the requirements of righteousness (i.e. giving each his due). He established the startling law of grace and love. The Old Testament, on the other hand, stressed justice based on equal retribution with some measure of grace. “If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe’ (Exodus 21:23-25). There are certain other quotes that seem to attenuate such a rigid standard of retribution for wrongdoing: ‘You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD’” (Leviticus 19:18). This statement, however, seems to be directed toward being merciful to one’s own people. What about other people than one’s own?
    There are general statements which encourage more clement behavior: “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.” (Proverbs 25:21). “Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay the man back for what he has done.’” (Proverbs 24:29)
    Jesus enhanced the principle of mercy with grace and loving kindness. He discouraged categorically the principle of retaliation. This is the defining behavior of a real Christian. Jesus acknowledged that treating others as they deserve is the law of justice. But, he stressed more emphatically the imperative for a Christian to act on the basis of loving kindness and mercy.
    A government applies the law of justice. A Christian applies the law of grace which returns evil with good. This frees the Christian from the downward cycle of retributive justice that may entrench malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment in the hearts of people permanently. Such Christian love and grace heals the embittered soul and prepares one to return to the kingdom of God and leave this embattled world of retributive justice that engenders revenge.
    Another question to ask follows: Is Jesus’s law of grace to be applied only in one’s personal life or can it also be applied by a government or civil authorities? This is the crucial question that has confounded the teaching of Jesus in practical application. I will examine this question and the above question in the context of Armenian history.
    Before we examine the events during the conversion of Armenia’s State government to Christianity, it will be useful to understand what the religion or religions of the Armenians were before the advent of Christianity. They are usually referred to as pagan. The Catholic Dictionary describes paganism:
    Paganism, in the broadest sense includes all religions other than the true one revealed by God, and, in a narrower sense, all except Christianity, Judaism, and Mohammedanism. The term is also used as the equivalent of Polytheism.
    It is derived from the Latin pagus, whence pagani (i.e. those who live in the country), a name given to the country folk who remained heathen after the cities had become Christian. One of the pagan religions of Armenia was called Mithraism, which was the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-god Mithra. There was also Zorastrianism (the cult of Aramaszt and Anahit), Hellenic and Roman Gods, and the Vedic God Krishna.
    The early Armenian religions cannot be understood until we correct our view of history. Due to the overbearing influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition many historical facts have been altered in order to maintain an artificial Judeo-Christian time line that corresponds to the Old Testament calculation of time. According to the Old Testament, recorded civilization began about 4000 years ago. The implication is that the creation also began about 4000 or 5000 years ago. With the descent of Noah’s Arc on Mount Ararat sometime after the creation the reestablishment of civilization began from the Armenian Highlands. This theory has lead to the concept that the Aryan race began somewhere in the cradle of civilization in or near the Armenian Highlands and spread into different directions including the Aryan Invasion of India. This is all speculation that begs to justify the Judeo-Christian time line of history which is seriously flawed.
    From my studies based on Linguistic evidence, astrological and older scriptural sources than the Old Testament (i.e. the Vedas), it is more plausible to understand that ancient civilizations existed long before the Old Testament was written. The Vedic time line of recorded history goes back much farther than the Judeo-Christian. An example of this is the following which explains the time line that calculates when the Bhagavad-gita (the quintessential Vedic scripture) was first spoken (Bhagavad-gita As It Is, in the purport of Ch. 4, text 1):
    In the Mahabharata (Santi-parva 348.51-52) we can trace out the history of the Gita as follows:
    treta-yugadau ca tato
    vivasvan manave dadau
    manus ca loka-bhrty-artham
    sutayeksvakave dadau
    iksvakuna ca kathito
    vyapya lokan avasthitah
    “‘In the beginning of the millennium known as Treta-yuga this science of the relationship with the Supreme was delivered by Vivasvan to Manu. Manu, being the father of mankind, gave it to his son Maharaja Iksvaku, the king of this earth planet and forefather of the Raghu dynasty, in which Lord Ramacandra appeared.’ Therefore, Bhagavad-gita existed in human society from the time of Maharaja Iksvaku.
    At the present moment we have just passed through five thousand years of the Kali-yuga, which lasts 432,000 years. Before this there was Dvapara-yuga (about 800,000 years), and before that there was Treta-yuga (about 1,200,000 years). Thus, some 2,005,000 years ago, Manu spoke the Bhagavad-gita to his disciple and son Maharaja Iksvaku, the king of this planet earth. The age of the current Manu is calculated to last some 305,300,000 years, of which 120,400,000 have passed. Accepting that before the birth of Manu the Gita was spoken by the Lord to His disciple the sun-god Vivasvan, a rough estimate is that the Gita was spoken at least 120,400,000 years ago; and in human society it has been extant for two million years. It was respoken by the Lord again to Arjuna about five thousand years ago. That is the rough estimate of the history of the Gita, according to the Gita itself and according to the version of the speaker, Lord Sri Krsna. It was spoken to the sun-god Vivasvan because he is also a ksatriya and is the father of all ksatriyas who are descendants of the sun-god, or the surya-vamsa ksatriyas.”
    The Bhagavad-gita is part of the Mahabharata, which is the great history of the world from the creation to the end of the Battle of Kurukshetra. The battle, which took place in India about 125 miles northeast of Dehli, ended approximately 5000 years ago.
    According to the Mahabharata, the recorded history of our earth planet begins with the Bhagavad-gita being spoken to Maharaja Iksvaku about two million years ago. However, the time line for the creation of the entire material creation is much older according to the following (Bhagavad-gita, Ch. 8, text 17):
    ahar yad brahmano viduh
    ratrim yuga-sahasrantam
    te ‘ho-ratra-vido janah
    “By human calculation, a thousand ages taken together form the duration of Brahma’s one day. And such also is the duration of his night.
    The duration of the material universe is limited. It is manifested in cycles of kalpas. A kalpa is a day of Brahma, and one day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali. The cycle of Satya is characterized by virtue, wisdom and religion, there being practically no ignorance and vice, and the yuga lasts 1,728,000 years. In the Treta-yuga vice is introduced, and this yuga lasts 1,296,000 years. In the Dvapara-yuga there is an even greater decline in virtue and religion, vice increasing, and this yuga lasts 864,000 years. And finally in Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) there is an abundance of strife, ignorance, irreligion and vice, true virtue being practically nonexistent, and this yuga lasts 432,000 years. In Kali-yuga vice increases to such a point that at the termination of the yuga the Supreme Lord Himself appears as the Kalki avatara, vanquishes the demons, saves His devotees, and commences another Satya-yuga. Then the process is set rolling again. These four yugas, rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such ‘years’ and then dies. These ‘hundred years’ by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years. By these calculations the life of Brahma seems fantastic and interminable, but from the viewpoint of eternity it is as brief as a lightning flash. In the Causal Ocean there are innumerable Brahmas rising and disappearing like bubbles in the Atlantic. Brahma and his creation are all part of the material universe, and therefore they are in constant flux.”
    The Vedic history goes back more than 311 trillion years. The original Aryan civilization began in Bharat or ancient India. The word Aryan is a Sanskrit word. It refers to persons who know the value of human life which they consider an opportunity to achieve self realization. Such persons organize society so that the people can progress in spiritual realization to understand their eternal relation with God and orient all their activities toward the unalloyed service of God without any tinge of material greed, lust, anger, envy, illusion, or madness. In the original Vedic Aryan culture the goal of self realization was to surrender to the will of Bhagavan Krishna (or Vishnu). In the Rig Veda, this is emphasized by the verse “Om tad Vishnu paramam padam,” the goal of all spiritual activity is (to serve) the Lotus Feet of Lord Vishnu.
    The non Aryans are persons who are captivated by the material conception of life. They do not understand that the aim of life is the realization of the Absolute Truth, Lord Vishnu or God. They have no understanding of liberation from material illusion and remain captivated by the external features of the material world. They perfect through science and technology ways to eat, sleep, mate and defend. They remain attached to the material body, land of birth, family, ethnicity, race and generally are disinterested in spiritual elevation. They consider god as a cultural phenomena that may be useful for less educated persons as a emotional crutch or belief for solace. Their ultimate goal in life is to prolong as long as possible their sense enjoyment for themselves and for others. They see death as the end of all existence. Therefore, they try to live this life dedicated to enjoying the senses in every way possible. In order to accomplish such material goals, they try their best to accumulate wealth and with it prestige and power. This inflates their egotism to such a point that they can justify anything to reach their material goals.
    What we can understand from the above discussion is that the Judeo-Christian history has seriously restricted our view of world history and forced us to accept that our ancestors all proceeded from the Old Testament or, in other words, Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Noah, etc. However, linguistically we are not related to the ancient Hebrews. The Armenian language is part of the Indo-European family. The Armenian philologist Hratchia Adjarian compiled an etymological dictionary of Armenian. His compilation contains 11,000 entries of Armenian root words. Of these, the Indo-European roots number about 9%, loans words constitute 36% and more than half the vocabulary is undetermined or uncertain. Thus, Armenian is considered in the Indo-European family of languages and not Semitic.
    The ancient cults of Armenia came originally from India. The cult of Mithra is an Indo-Irano cult with its orgins in the Vedic past. In the Vedic history, Mitra and Varuna are two members of the Vedic devas or demigods. Mithra later became prominent as a sun god in Iran and Armenia. Shrines for Mithra existed in Armenia into the 4th century AD . The historian Dio Cassius records a dialogue between Tiridates I and King Nero. The Roman Emperor conferred on the Armenian King the throne of Armenia. During the ceremony, Tiridates I knelt before Nero and declared, “Lord, I am your slave. And I have come to you as my god, to pay homage to you as I do to Mitra.” This happened around 52 AD.
    Later Tiridates III converted to Christianity and declared Christianity the state religion of Armenia at the beginning of the 4th century. Up until the conversion to Christianity, there were temples of Mithra, Anahit, fire temples in the Zorastrian tradition, Hindu temples dedicated to Krishna, and some Roman or Greek temples. They were all originally influenced by Indo-European spiritual influences coming from ancient India’s Indus Valley Aryan civilization either directly or through Iranian influence. The three major deities of ancient Armenia were Aramasd (the legendary Ara who became Aramasd – a sort of combination of Ara and Ahura Maszda, the Zoroastrian supreme god), Anahit (the goddess of purity who originated in Laxmi the wife of Narayana or Visnu the Supreme Godhead of the Indian Aryans. She came to Armenia through the Iranian goddess Anahida) and Mithra (the Vedic demigod Mitra who came through Iranian influence and was considered the sun god).
    A short history of the Etchmiadzin Cathedral is also of interest in this discussion. Twenty kilometers west of Yerevan is situated the Cathedral of Etchmiadzin, the headquarters of the Armenian Orthodox Church and the most visited pilgrimage site in the country. Long before the arrival of Christianity, the site was already considered a holy place. Called Vagharshapat at the end of the 3rd century BC, a Zoroastrian fire temple had been functioning there for untold centuries. Upon this fire temple, a Roman Temple of Venus was later constructed and at this exact site, in 303 AD, St. Gregory the Illuminator saw the Holy Ghost descend in a vision. The name Etchmiadzin means “Only Begotten Descended” and refers to the place where St. Gregory (Grigor Lusavorich) saw his vision. The first church was constructed in 309 AD upon the site of the Zoroastrian and Venus temples, and some remains of the Venus temple may be seen in the church crypt today.
    Etchmiadzin was the capital of Armenia from 180-340 AD. The church was rebuilt in the 6th and 7th centuries, with more recent additions in 1654 and 1868. Relics in the church collection include one of the lances that pierced the side of Christ and wood from Noah’s Arc (this wood, which has been carbon dated as more than 4000 years old, was supposedly given by an angel to an Armenian monk who had tried to climb Mt. Ararat three times in the 13th century).
    Our pre-Christian culture, religion and language was much more connected to origins in the Vedic past than the Hebrew past. The following discussion will give evidence to this fact from ancient Vedic texts.
    In the Bhagavata Purana Canto 9 (SB 9. ch19 texts 22,23,24), known also as the Srimad Bhagavatam, there is an account of the origin of modern Aryan races of India and the reason why they gradually migrated from India to different parts of the world and, over time, the purity of their Aryan culture deteriorated. As they lost contact with their Aryan roots they partially retained their original culture but with many watered down or faulty practices or lost it entirely.
    The Bhagavatam states that King Yayati had five sons: Yadu, Turvasu (also known as Yavana), Drahyu, Anu and Puru. Each of these sons became the forefather of a race. The sons of Yadu became known as the Yadavas, Turvasu’s sons were called the Yavanas., the sons of Drahyu are the Bhojas, Anu’s sons were the Mllechas and Puru’s sons were known as the Pauravas. Yadavas became strong in central India where they evolved the Aryan culture of the Indus Valley which had it core homeland extended from the Saraswati River (modern Pakistan) to Bihar and then expanded all over the world.. The Pauravas (Kurus and Panchalas were branches of this race) became strong in northern India. The sons of Anu were also called Anavas, thought to be the Iranian tribes, who were all grouped as Mllechas or races that fell away from the Aryan culture. The Yavanas became the Turk race and, along with the Anavas, established themselves in the far western regions (west of the Indus Valley). They (the Yavanas) became opposed to the Aryan culture.
    The Indus Valley Culture was watered by the Saraswati River in the West and the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers in the North and East with the many tributaries that connected to these two rivers. The Saraswati River disappeared in modern times. The Yadavas ruled the Vedic culture of the Indus Valley along with the Pauravas. The Vedic groups which integrally followed the Vedic teachings maintained the principles of Dharma (the Aryan culture) and spread them widely around the world by saintly kings. After the battle of Kurukshetra (5000 years ago), King Yudhistira became the king of the entire world. He sent his brothers, the Pandavas in the four directions to collect tribute or defeat any reluctant kings who refused to pay tribute. His brothers conquered all nations of the world at that time and established a world government. The Vedic culture spread throughout the world and also to ancient Armenia.
    In the Bhagavata Purana (2.4.18), there is a very interesting verse with an extensive purport by His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada that sheds light on the later history of Aryan civilization. This verse establishes that there were many races on the perimeter of the Vedic civilizations that were fallen from the pure path of Vedic Dharma (this is after the demise of Maharaja Yudhistira about 5000 years ago). However, with proper instruction by a genuine spiritual leader they could also reintegrate into the path of eternal Dharma. The different races are named and in the explanation approximate geographical positions are given. The Bhagavata Purana was written 5000 years ago.
    abhira-sumbha yavanah khasadayah
    ye ‘nye ca papa yad-apasrayasrayah
    sudhyanti tasmai prabhavishnave namah
    Kirata – a province of old Bharata; huna – part of Germany and Russia; andhra – a province of southern India; pulinda – the Greeks; pulkasah – another province; abhira – part of old Sind; sumbhah – another province; yavanah – the Turks; khasa-adayah – the Mongolian province; ye – even those; anye – others; ca – also; papah – addicted to sinful acts; yat – whose; apasraya-asrayah – having taken shelter of the devotees of the Lord; sudhyanti – at once purified; tasmai – unto Him; prabhavishnave – unto the powerful Vishnu; namah – my respectful obeisances.
    “Kirata, Huna, Andhra, Pulinda, Pulkasa, Abhira, Sumbha, Yavana, members of the Khasa races and even others addicted to sinful acts can be purified by taking shelter of the devotees of the Lord, due to His being the supreme power. I beg to offer my respectful obeisances unto Him.
    Kirata: A province of old Bharata-varsha mentioned in the Bhishma-parva of Mahabharata. Generally the Kiratas are known as the aboriginal tribes of India, and in modern days the Santal Parganas in Bihar and Chota Nagpur might comprise the old province named Kirata.
    Huna: The area of East Germany and part of Russia is known as the province of the Hunas. Accordingly, sometimes a kind of hill tribe is known as the Hunas.
    Andhra: A province in southern India mentioned in the Bhishma-parva of Mahabharata. It is still extant under the same name.
    Pulinda: It is mentioned in the Mahabharata (Adi-parva 174.38), viz., inhabitants of the province of the name Pulinda. This country was conquered by Bhimasena and Sahadeva. The Greeks are known as Pulindas, and it is mentioned in the Vana-parva of Mahabharata that the non-Vedic race of this part of the world would rule over India (this predicts Alexander the Great). This Pulinda province was also one of the provinces of Bharata, and the inhabitants were classified amongst the kshatriya kings. But later on, due to their giving up the brahminical culture, they were mentioned as mlecchas (just as those who are not followers of the Islamic culture are called kafirs and those who are not followers of the Christian culture are called heathens).
    Abhira: This name also appears in the Mahabharata, both in the Sabha-parva and Bhishma-parva. It is mentioned that this province was situated on the River Sarasvati in Sind. The modern Sind province formerly extended on the other side of the Arabian Sea, and all the inhabitants of that province were known as the Abhiras. They were under the domination of Maharaja Yudhishthira, and according to the statements of Markandeya the mlecchas of this part of the world would also rule over Bharata. Later on this proved to be true, as in the case of the Pulindas. On behalf of the Pulindas, Alexander the Great conquered India, and on behalf of the Abhiras, Muhammad Ghori conquered India. These Abhiras were also formerly kshatriyas within the brahminical culture, but they gave up the connection. The kshatriyas who were afraid of Parasurama and had hidden themselves in the Caucasian hilly regions later on became known as the Abhiras, and the place they inhabited was known as Abhiradesa.
    Sumbhas or Kankas: The inhabitants of the Kanka province of old Bharata, mentioned in the Mahabharata.
    Yavanas: Yavana (Turvasu) was the name of one of the sons of Maharaja Yayati who was later given the part of the world known as Turkey to rule. Therefore the Turks are Yavanas due to being descendants of Maharaja Yavana. The Yavanas were therefore kshatriyas(warriors), and later on, by giving up the brahminical culture, they became mleccha-yavanas. Descriptions of the Yavanas are in the Mahabharata (Adi-parva 85.34). Another prince, also called Turvasu and known as Yavana, and his country was conquered by Sahadeva, one of the Pandavas. The western Yavana joined with Duryodhana in the Battle of Kurukshetra under the pressure of Karna. It is also foretold that these Yavanas would conquer India, and it proved to be true.
    Khasa: The inhabitants of the Khasadesa are mentioned in the Mahabharata (Drona-parva). Those who have a stunted growth of hair on the upper lip are generally called Khasas. As such, the Khasa are the Mongolians, the Chinese and others who are so designated.”
    The abovementioned are different nations or races of the world that had fallen away from the Vedic Aryan culture. From the most ancient times the Yadavas-Kuravas, Iranians, Greeks, Turks, the others were either followers of the Vedic path (Aryans) or fallen from the path of following the Vedas (Mllechas), or opposed to the Vedic path (Yavanas). It is interesting to note that the followers of the Vedas are sometimes referred to as suras (godly) and those not following or opposed are called asuras. Later, this word asura became the root word of the Assyrian people who referred to themselves as asuras.
    As stated above, all these nations or different people and races were united by Maharaja Yudhistira 5000 years ago. However, after the disappearance of Maharaja Yudhistira (very shortly after the disappearance of Lord Krishna), the age of Kali (the iron age of quarrel and hypocrisy) began and there was a steady deterioration of the pure Vedic culture and the emergence of many different groups of people and nations. They all retained certain aspects of the Vedic culture, but the original philosophical understanding of the purpose of life became confounded with materialistic concepts that undermined its purity and obscured the goal of human endeavor.”
    This background is very useful in order to understand the origins of the Armenian people and their early religious beliefs. It is understood that prior to the emergence of an Armenian identity, there were more ancient people and cultures such as the Hittites, the Mitanni, Kassite and Urartu people who either inhabited Armenian Highlands or were very close. They might be considered the ancestors of the Armenians. The Aryan Kassites of the Middle East worshipped Vedic Gods like Surya and the Maruts, as well as one named Himalaya.( see http://www.armeniadiaspora.com/gallery/dance/images/IMG_1809.jpg) The Hitities have a treatise on chariot racing written in almost pure Sanskrit. The Indo-Europeans of the ancient Middle East spoke Indo-Aryan and thus show their origins from the Vedic culture.
    If we construct a modern time line for the Armenian Highlands beginning more than 5000 years ago, it would look like this:
    We begin with Medzamor, site of an ancient city and foundry of highly advanced metalurgy dating back almost 5000 years (3000 BC). The following is a description of Medzamor from an exerpt of “Ancient Man Thesis Doctoral Baugh’s Dr.Carl From ANCIENT HUMAN CULTURES APPEAR IN SOPHISTICATED FORM.”
    “Site Medzamor in Soviet Armenia is of intriguing interest. An international scientific report published in 1969 expressed the belief that these finds point to an unknown period of technological development. ‘Medzamor was founded by the wise men of earlier civilizations. They possessed knowledge they had acquired during a remote age unknown to us that deserves to be called scientific and industrial.’ The preceding year Koriun Megurtchian of the Soviet Union unearthed the oldest large-scale metallurgical factory currently known. At this site over 4,500 years ago an unknown prehistoric people worked with over 200 furnaces, producing an assortment of vases, knives, spearheads, rings, bracelets, etc. The Medzamor craftsmen wore mouth-filters and gloves while they labored and expertly fashioned their wares of copper, lead, zinc, iron, gold, tin, manganese, and fourteen kinds of bronze. The smelters also produced an assortment of metallic paints, ceramics and glass. Scientific organizations from the Soviet Union, the United States, Britain, France and Germany verified that several pairs of tweezers made of exceptionally high grade steel were taken from layers predating the first millennium B.C.”
    Medzamor is proof that an advanced civilization lived in the Armenian Highlands 5000 or more years ago. This helps us understand the Armenian Highlands in the context of Vedic history. The Vedic Aryan culture spread from India throughout the whole world and with it advanced knowledge of mathematics, astrology, spirituality, metallurgy, etc.
    The noted archaeologist E. Khanzadian has written in an article on Medzamor, quoted from the Soviet Armenian Encyclopedia:
    “‘A very ancient fortress-settlement in the Ararat valley, near the sources of the Medzamor river.’ Its real name is unknown, hence at present it is called [provisionally] Medzamor after the name of the river. This most ancient settlement is situated on one of the volcanic cones of the middle anthropogenetic period and the surrounding plain, comprising an area of 30 hectares. It is surrounded with water on almost every side: on the northwest it is bounded by the Medzamor river and on the east it is protected by artificial moats. Archaeological excavations have proven that Medzamor has been continuously inhabited from the middle of the fourth millennium B.C. to the late Middle Ages. The layers of various cultures that have been dug so far relate to the early, middle, and late phase of the Bronze Age, the early and the developed phase of the Iron Age (pre-Urartian, Urartian and antique), and the Middle Ages. Medzamor is one of the centers of early Bronze Age culture (third millennium B.C.) of the Ararat valley. The fort on the big hill was protected by a turreted Cyclopean wall, and outside the wall, on vast elevations, were built the residences and the utility buildings. Artifacts discovered on the site prove that at Medzamor agriculture, animal husbandry and the crafts were at a developed stage. The lesser hills had astronomical as well as ritualistic significance, and, as studies have substantiated, in 2800-2600 B.C. the site was used to observe the rising of Sirius (whose appearance was probably related to the beginning of the new year and was worshiped). Studies made on Medzamor’s ziggurat-observatory that served for ritual ceremonies held in the open air, and on the monumental tower at Mokhrablur suggest the possibility of the formation of rural communities and the establishment of cities around these temples, in other words, the existence of an urban revolution in the Armenian Highland in the third millennium B.C., which had the consequence of shaking the foundations of the primeval social order.”
    According to archeological records, we have proof of the Hittite people (1750-1180 BC) on the western borders of the Armenian Highlands, the Mittani people on the southern borders who were contemporaries of the Hittites, the Hayasa-Azzi (1500-1200 BC) in the area of Lake Van and north toward Trebizon, the Nairi people(1200-900 BC) stretching from LakeVan to Lake Urmia, the Urartu people in the Armenian Highlands (1000-600 BC), invasions of Medes and Scythians who were Aryan tribes from the east that swept through and subjugated Armenia until the 6th century BC, when we hear of the first Armenian kings. It should be noted that the city of Yerevan dates back to the 8th century BC, with the founding of the Urartian fortress of Erebuni established by King Arguisti in 782 BC at the western extremity of the Ararat plain. The pre-Christian Armenian people are a composite of these ancient people who were all Indo-European stock. There is also influence from the Semitic people from the early Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian, Parthian, etc., and including the Indo-European Greeks and Persians who were off and on the rulers of Armenia after the 6 BC to the 14th Century AD.
    If we consider the Old Testament history, however, we are confronted with a restricted time line. The creation began sometime about 5000 years ago after which there was a flood and the Arc of Noah landed on Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:4) about 4000 years ago. Noah had three sons (Ham, Shem, Japheth). Its seems that the Armenians either were descended from one of the five sons of Shem named Aram or one of the seven sons of Japheth named Gomer whose son was Torgam. Moses Khorenatsi claims that the Armenians descended from Torgom (or Togarmah) who was supposed to live in the Armenian Highlands.
    However, the findings in Medzamor dwarfs the Biblical history and establishes proof that there were ancient settlements in Armenia dating back over 4000 B.C. and highly evolved by 3000 B.C. Let us look again at Medzamor for more information of the cultural and technological degree of advancement it documents by its archeological remains. You can find the following on Ancient-Wisdom.Co.Uk. There is a discussion of the amazing finds of ancient astronomy at Medzamor:
    “The astronomical observatory (at Medzamor) predates all other known observatories in the ancient world. That is, observatories that geometrically divided the heavens into constellations and assigned them fixed positions and symbolic design. Until the discovery of Metsamor it had been widely accepted that the Babylonians were the first astronomers. The observatory at Metsamor predates the Babylonian kingdom by 2000 years, and contains the first recorded example of dividing the year into 12 sections. Using an early form of geometry, the inhabitants of Metsamor were able to create both a calendar and envision the curve of the earth. Elma Parsamian, a researcher at the Medzamor site is quoted:
    ‘The Metsamorians were a trade culture,’ Parsamian explains. ‘For trade, you have to have astronomy, to know how to navigate.’ The numerous inscriptions found at Metsamor puzzled excavators, as indecipherable as they were elaborate. Hundreds of small circular bowls were carved on the rock surfaces, connected by thin troughs or indented lines. But one stood out. It is an odd shaped design that was a mystery to the excavators of the site, until Professor Parsamian discovered it was a key component to the large observatory complex. By taking a modern compass and placing it on the carving, Parsamian found that it pointed due North, South and East. It was one of the first compasses used in Ancient times.
    Another carving on the platforms shows four stars inside a trapezium. The imaginary end point of a line dissecting the trapezium matches the location of the star which gave rise to Egyptian, Babylonian and ancient Armenian religious worship.
    Sketch the locations of the Jupiter moons over several nights and you’re repeating an experiment Galileo did in 1610. Chart a star over several years and you repeat an experiment the Metsamorians did almost 5000 years ago. By using the trapezium carving and a 5000 year stellar calendar, Parsamian discovered that the primary star which matched the coordinates of its end point was the star Sirius, the brightest star in our galaxy.”
    To understand the pre-Christian spirituality and culture of Armenia, we can begin with a statement of Dr. H. Martkian, who writes: ‘The history of each nation has begun with a mythological worldview.’ An Armenian history should never lose sight of this point; herein lies the Gordian knot of our history.
    Dr. G. Conteneau has said: “In remote antiquity no difference was made between a country and its gods.” With this in mind, we may expect to find that the name of the Armenian people known in ancient times as the ‘Armani or Armeni people’ was derived from the name of the principle deity worshipped by the people. The principle deity of the Armenians was indeed Ar or Ara. Armaniâ is a compound name. The first part is Arâ which is the name of the national sun-god of the Armens. The second part is Ma (or Me which is a variant). It means beget, offspring, son. Ma is a Sanskrit root word meaning mother. The Latin, mater, Sanskrit, mata, colloquial, ma, English, mother, Armenian mayrig, all these words come from the Sanskrit root ma, The Ma represents the patron mother goddess of Armenia. Anahit (also refered to as Nuard or Nane). Anahit is associated with the Sumerian goddess Inanna who, through the epic poem Gilgamesh, was identified with the star Sirius.”
    We can see a development from Ar. Arma, Arme, Ara, Arame, Aram which forms the basis of the name Armani or Armeni. For a much more detailed explanation of these root words that form the basis of the Armenian nomenclature see www.ArattaKingdom.com, a website developed from the research of Gevork Nazaryan and Martiros Kavoukjian.
    The goddess Anahita’s connection with the star Sirius is noteworthy because of the discoveries made by Elma Parsamian and Paris Herouni at another pre-Christian ancient site called Karahundj, the Armenian Stonehenge at Sissian in Armenia. The Sissian find is an accurate astronomical instrument or telescope made of 204 very large stones arranged in a very precise way with some of the stones having carved and polished telescopic holes pointing to sunrises and sunsets at specific times of the year. It was particularly important for ancient priests to determine the beginning of the new year or the beginning of a calender. The observatory in the Metdzamor complex and that of Sissian could precisely determine the first appearance of Sirius (in June) after its disappearance in late Winter (February). Like the ancient Egyptians who connected the re-appearance of Sirius (sometime in June) with the flooding of the Nile (a natural occurrence that would fertilize their fields for new crops), the inhabitants of Metsamor and Sissian probably related the first appearance of Sirius with the commencement of the year and the renewal of fertility and the rebirth of nature.
    Parsamian has remarked about this: “The ancients had to know when the new year began, the exact moment. At Medzamor, they could observe Sirius (the brightest star) appearing in the rays of the dawning sun in the late spring. That was the cosmic event they looked for. The one they staked their reputations as priests by predicting. This was complicated stuff.” Paris Herouni has commented about the people who made the Sissian telescope: “They understood geometry and the laws of physics long before anyone in Europe began to look into the matter.” (Please refer to the article by Rick Ney, Karahundj – Armenia’s Stonehenge at www.tacentral.com and click on astronomy on the left of the homepage)
    The culture and people of Sisian and Medzamor were able to precisely keep time and predict the changing seasons according to the movement of celestial planets and stars. They were able to use this detailed knowledge for their spiritual practices and rituals presented in the Vedas, as well as for all practical business and historical records. Precise times are required for beginning and ending ritual performances, fasting, begetting children (in Vedic times, precise astrological calculations were used for conceiving children), building, calculating auspicious times to begin and end activities, planting and harvesting, predicting weather conditions, knowing the exact date and time to begin a spiritual festival, reading the past and future, making agreements and contracts, keeping historical records, understanding the most opportune time to die, etc. We take for granted today how we keep in touch with time. An advanced culture needs to accurately keep time in order to conduct its business and spiritual activities. Knowledge of astrology and astronomy was preserved in the Vedas. The ancient Vedic culture spread this knowledge to other parts of the world like Armenia.
    The Rig-Veda (the oldest of the Vedic texts written over 5000 years ago) contains astronomical references that are based on knowledge of the phenomenon of precession (the very slow change of the earth’s axis of rotation). The Vedic culture expressed through the Rig-Veda employed sidereal time (the measurement of time relative to the position of the stars). Thus, the points of vernal (spring) equinox or winter solstice would be mentioned as having occurred or occurring in particular lunar constellations, called nakshatras. This sophisticated Vedic knowledge existed in Armenia even before Sumer-Babylon or ancient Egypt. The remains of the telescope of Sisian and the excavation at Medzamor with its astrological finds are irrefutable proof of Armenia’s Vedic origins thousands of years before the beginning of, and later on contemporaneous with Biblical history.
    As more excavation and research work is done in Medzamor, Sissian and other sites, the Vedic orgins of Armenia and western civilization will become more documented for the skeptics. At present, there is undeniable linguistic (Hratchia Adjarian), archeological (Sissian, Medzamor, Hittite and Mitanni), religious (cult of Mitra, Anahit, Ara or Aramazd before Christianity in Armenia), astronomic and astrological (Medzamor and Sissian) proofs of the existence of Vedic influence in pre-Christian Armenia.
    As an added support to the above, Nikoghayos Adonts -(Ter-Avetikyan), a prominent Armenian Historian who died in 1942, claimed, after extensive study of pre-Christian history especially of Hittite and Urartian archeological remains, that Armenians were Indo-Europeans by their language and origin and they came from the Urartian civilization. But they have more remote antecedents to another civilization that dates back to the period prior to the 17th Century B.C.) See his book, “The Conceptions of Ancient Authors on the Origins of Armenians.”
    Adonts states that Herodotus (500 B.C.) and Eudox (400 B.C.) both mentioned that the Armenian were of Phrygian orgin. The Phrygians were an Indo-European people who entered Asia Minor as soldiers from ancient Greece who were part of the Trojan army that seized Troy. This is about the 1200 B.C.
    This may be true. In any case, the Armenians are associated with Indo-European origins. Adonts concludes his study with the conviction that the Armenians were also related to another civilization that dates back to the period prior to the Seventeenth century B.C.. He implies that much earlier than the Urartian and Hittite civilization there was an Armenian ancestry in a remote time before Biblical history. He would have been very impressed by the discovery of Medzamor and Sissian.
    My purpose up to now has been to demonstrate that the Armenians have a much earlier history than Biblical time line and that they have been bereft of their illustrious background due to many invasions and impositions on them by more powerful nations and tribes. This is further complicated by the militaristic way they were converted to Christianity after the fourth century, which led to a systematic destruction of pre-Armenian religious sites and libraries of ancient texts.
    I want to discuss the conversion of Armenians to Christianity. It will perhaps reveal the origin of the misfortune that has plagued the Armenians since the fourth century A.D. Again I want to emphasize that the misfortune of the Armenians is not due to Christianity’s teachings. It is perhaps due to non-Christian policies and strategies that characterized the implementation of the forced conversion to Christianity.
    The conversion of Armenia to Christianity is a fascinating history that I want to examine from a different point of view that has not been given
    much importance by other historians. The most prominent past historians who have chronicled the history of Armenia and its Christian conversion are:
    Zenob, or Zenobias, who was a Syrian and one of the first disciples of St.Gregory the Illuminator, Agathangueghos (5th century), Movses Khorenatsi (5th century), Yeghisheh (5th century), Yeznik Koghbatsi (5th century), David Anhaght (6th century), Bishop Sebeos, Tovma Artsrouni (10th century), Aristakes Lastivertsi (11th century), Stepanos Orbelian (13th century), Khachatour Joughayetsi (18th century).
    Before the official conversion of Armenia as a state government that declared Christianity as its official religion (AD 301), there was active preaching and conversion going on for three hundred years. Armenian travelers and merchants went often to Antioch which was a major center of Christianity and Edessa and Nisibis. These cities had active Christian communities since the time of the first apostles of Christ.
    Tertullian (AD 155-222) in his answer to the Jews (Chapter VII), includes the Armenians among the very first Christians from the day of Pentecost. Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History quotes a letter from Dionysus of Alexendria to Meruzhan, Bishop of Armenia (c. AD 254). There were persecutions of Christians in Armenia under King Artashes (c. 110) and King Khosrov (c. 230). There were Christian followers and a small, organized movement in Armenia before the events of the official conversion of Trtad III by St. Gregory the Illuminator (c. 301 to 314). National chroniclers testify to the existence in the third century of two Christian Churches in Armenia, one at Artaz and another in the province of Sewniq.
    Let us examine more specifically the events leading up the declaration of Christianity as the state religion of Armenia. This will clarify certain important facts that may help us understand the possibility of a curse on the Armenian people. This may shed light on why they have suffered so much after this eventful period at the end of the 3rd century and the beginning of the 4th. However, it should be noted that the Armenians suffered before their conversion to Christianity because of continual warfare on Armenian lands between the Roman Empire and the Parthian Empire and frequent invasions from the Northeast by fierce tribes coming from the Caucasian mountain areas.
    The last Parthian king, Artavan, was deposed in 224 AD by the Persian named Artashir, who established the Sassanid dynasty. The Parthians were Persians who were favorable to Greek culture. They were considered Hellenized Persians by the more traditional Persians. The Parthians were Persians from the Northeastern area of Khurasan. Their dynastic founder was Arsaces, thus they were known as the Arsacids. Their empire, which at its height included most of Greater Iran, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, was known as the Parthian Empire. The Arsacid Empire or Parthian Empire was not ruled as a single coherent state. It was made up of numerous tributary kingdoms (meaning they paid taxes and other mandatory commissions). However, these kingdoms were in many ways independent. Because of this more liberal system, a branch of the Arsacid (or Parthian) ruling class eventually developed in Armenia. The Arsacid Empire (also known as Askhanian) or the Parthian Empire began in 247 BC and lasted until 224 AD. The Roman Empire was continually at war, with intermittent negotiated peace, with the Parthian Empire during the entire period. The battleground area was often Mesopotamia or Armenia.
    The Parthian Empire also was beleaguered by wars with the Seleucid Empire which was gradually in decline. The Seleucids Empire (312 BC to 63 AD) was a vast area that extended during its height from central Anatolia to the far reaches of Pakistan and Turkmenistan. It was one part of the conquered dominion of Alexander the Great. It was ruled by an elite Greek-speaking Macedonian warrior class whose initial leader was Seleucus, a commander after Alexander’s demise, who initially became the leader of Babylon, but ruthlessly spread his dominion to Persia, Pakistan and Turkmenistan to the east and central Anatolia to the west. and most of Armenia. The Parthian Empire battled also with the Persian Sassanids, who were at one time minor vassals from Southwestern Persia.
    A branch of the Arsacid or Parthian ruling class developed in Armenia. They were named the Arshakuni Dynasty. They ruled Armenia from 54 AD to 428 AD. Although formerly a branch of the Persian Parthian Arsacids, they became a distinctly Armenian dynasty. At first, the new Armenian branch of the Parthian ruling class of Armenia had its king appointed by the Persian Parthian ruler. Then, the appointed king was anointed by the Roman ruler. Trdat I, the first Arshakuni king was appointed by the Parthian king and crowned in Rome by Nero in 66 AD. This arrangement gave rise to pro-Roman and pro-Parthian allegiances among the Armenian ruling classes. An independent line of Kings was established by Vologases II of Armenia (Valarses/Vagharshak) in 180 AD.
    Khosrov II, the Great (216-238 AD), an Armenian King in the Arshakuni Dynasty, on the death of the Parthian King Artavan, marched into Persia, to dispossess the usurper Artashir of the crown. Several years elapsed in this war, until at length Artashir, being defeated, was obliged to quit Persia in 226 AD, and flee into India. Khosrov II then returned to Atropatia and built a city in that country, which he called Davrej. It was built to perpetuate the remembrance of the vengeance he had taken on Artashir. . Artashir the Sassanian, understood that while Khosrov II continued to live, he could not reign over Persia. He decided to destroy his enemy by treachery. For this purpose, he offered a great sum of money to any of his chiefs who would undertake to assassinate the Armenian monarch. A chief named Anak, of the tribe of the Surenian Pahlavies (Parthians), tempted by the rich reward, accepted the task. Pretending to be hostile to the interests of Artashir, he, with his family, came and settled in Armenia. He first arrived in the province of Artaz, and resided for a short time in the very place where the remains of St. Thaddeus the apostle were laid to rest.
    Ogohey, the wife of Anak, conceived her child (c. 257 AD), named Suren, who later became St.Gregory the Illuminator. Anak with his family proceeded to the city of Valarshapat, where King Khosrov II had taken up his residence. Anak was received by the king with honour and respect, little suspecting the treachery of his honored guest. After some time, the assassin, having waited for an opportune time, mortally wounded Khosrov II, and fled. He was immediately pursued by the Armenian soldiers, who were able to kill him. It is said Anak was thrown in the river Arax. The troops then seized the family of Anak and massacred every member of it except one son, Suren. He was saved by his nurse Sophia, assisted by her brother Euthalius, both of whom were Christians and natives of Caesarea. They fled with the child, who later was baptized in Caesarea, which was in Roman territory. He was christened with the name Gregory (Krikor).
    In Caesarea, which is the modern city of Kayseri in Turkey, Gregory was brought up as a Christian. Leontius, Archbishop of Caesarea, became his childhood protector and patron. It is believed that St. Firmilian, the learned bishop of Caesarea, paid special attention the boy’s education. When Gregory was of age, he married a Christian girl named Mariam, daughter of David. Mariam’s brother was St. Athenogenes, prelate of Bedochton, who was later martyred and is well known from the works of early Christian writers. Gregory and Mariam had two sons named Vertannes and Aristakes, who became a Christian monk. After the birth of the second son, Gregory and Mariam decided to part their ways. Mariam withdrew to a convent to raise her sons and later practice serious monastic vows.
    Gregory learned of his father’s vile deed of assasinating King Khosrov II. He decided to makes amends for his father’s sin by becoming the secretary of Khosrov’s surviving son, Trtad, who was destined to become the king of Armenia.
    When Khosrov II was assasinated, the king of Persia, Artashir, took advantage of the chaotic situation to attack Armenia with a powerful army (c. 260 AD). He was able to overpower the Armenian forces. He executed most of Khosrov II’s family except the youngest son named Trtad (or Tiridates) who was saved by Artavazd the Mandakunian, who took the young boy to Caesarea. Trtad’s sister named Khosrovadukht also survived. After some time, the boy was taken to Rome for his protection and education. The emperor of Rome received the young prince and endowed him with princely facilities. The prince Trtad was placed under the guidance of the celebrated Roman chief named Lucinius. Thus, Trtad received a formal Roman education and became a child of Roman culture. This is very significant for understanding the non-Christian way Armenia was, for the most part, converted to Christianity.
    To understand the nature of the Roman culture, we need to examine its origin. If we look at the beginnings of Rome, we encounter the fascinating history of Romulus (c. 771 – c. 717 BC) and Remus (c. 771 – c. 753 BC), the legendary founders of Rome. They may or may not be factual historical persons. However, their story forms the basis of the Roman historical identity, society, culture, and national behavioral psyche, or the origin of epic prototypes that influence thought, behavior and personality for a group of people or nation. According to the tradition recorded by Plutarch and Livy, Aeneas, a hero of the Trojan war who escaped from Troy after it was destroyed, went with a group of followers to Italy. He settled on the West coast of Italy, married a local woman and built a new city named Alba Longa. Numitor and Amulius were brothers who descended from Aeneas. Numitor was the king of Alba Longa and his brother Amulius controlled the treasury.
    Amulius detroned his brother and killed his sons, but feared that his brother’s daughter, Rhea Silvia, would have children who would one day claim the throne. He forced Rhea Silvia to become a Vestal Virgin, a priestesse sworn to abstinence. One day Mars, the mythological god of war, seduced Rhea Silvia and two sons were born named Romulus and Remus. Learning of the birth of the twins, Amulius ordered Rhea Silvia buried alive. He ordered a servant to kill the twins. The twins were very beautiful and innocent. The servant decided to place the twins in a basket and floated it downstream on the Tiber river. The river deity Tiberinus guided the basket until it was caught in the branches and roots of a fig tree. The river deity brought the infant twins up to the Palatine hill where they were nursed by a wolf and a woodpecker, which brought them small morsels of food under another fig tree. Both the wolf and the woodpecker are favorites of the deity Mars. The shepherd Faustalus found the twins and becomes their guardian.
    When Romulus and Remus attained adulthood, they restored the throne to Numitor, their maternal grandfather, after killing their uncle Amulius. They decide not to live in Alba Longa with Numitor and moved back to the Palatine Hill where Rome was founded. Due to sibling rivalry, Romulus murdered Remus and went on to become the founder of Rome, which was named after him.
    At first, all the inhabitants under Romulus were men. They were shepherds, runaway slaves, and brigands. Romulus devised a plan to find women to marry the men. He invited neighboring communities called the Sabines to take part in games in honor of the god Consus. During the games, Romulus arranged for the Roman men to carry off the Sabine women and forcibly marry them. After negotiation with the Sabines, peace was made and the Sabines and Romans formed a unified kingdom. Later, Romulus became the undisputed ruler of the new kingdom.
    Romulus, the epic founder of Rome, was the archetype or heroic personality that infused his patterns of behavior into the future generations of the Roman people and culture. Romulus was suckled on the milk of a wolf, a predatory animal, murdered his brother, killed his maternal uncle, and kidnapped the maidens of the Sabines. His example presaged the future mood of the Roman Empire which was often marked by violence, treachery, wolf-like predatory behavior that characterized its expansionist agenda, and a society that exploited slaves and marked by sexual promiscuity.
    Trtad III was raised in the Roman territory of Asia Minor and later in Rome. He learned and embraced the language, literature, customs, religion and culture of Rome and its archetype hero Romulus. He was tall, with an athletic body, handsome, with apparent Herculean strength. It is reported that he once stopped a rival’s chariot in a race contest just by seizing the spokes of the wheels with his bare hands. Once, rebellious Roman soldiers attacked the palace of his friend Caius Flavius Licinus. They were determined to kill the Roman. Trtad single- handedly fought them and they were forced to retreat. It was Lucinius that brought Trtad to the attention of Diocletian who became emperor of Rome in 285 AD. Several years later, Diocletian empowered Trtad to return to Armenia with Roman soldiers and regain his rightful throne as king of Armenia.
    A certain number of Armenian nobility accepted Trtad and welcomed him back as king of Armenia. At that time, Gregory, who became St. Gregory the Illuminator, became a secretary of king Trtad III. In 296 AD, the Sassanid King Narseh of Persia attacked Armenia forcing Trtad III to take refuge in Roman territory. With the help of Diocletian and his Roman army commanded by his son-in-law Galerius, Trtad III was able to rout the Persians. He again took possession of Armenian lands and his autonomous throne with the protective backing of the Romans (c. 297 AD). The Romans concluded a peace treaty with Narseh by which the Persians ceded more land to Trtad III, To avoid incursions by the northern Caucasian tribes of the Alans, Trtad III married Princess Ashkhen, daughter of Ashkatar, King of the Alans. A period of peace and prosperity followed for Armenia until the reign of Constantine, the Emperor of the Roman empire (c. 324 AD).
    Agathangelos (a name in Greek which means the good news) was alleged to be the secretary of Tiridates III. A hagiographical biography (worshipful or idealizing life history) of Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited to him. He writes: “During the first year of his reign, Trtad and his courtiers visited a provincial town to make a sacrifice to the goddess Anahid in her temple. He ordered Gregory to venerate her statue, and when Gregory refused Trtad asked him, “You have served me well these many years. Why in this one matter do you refuse to do my will?”
    Gregory answered, “You speak truly. I have served you as God commands us to serve our earthly lords. But He alone is the creator of angels and men, of heaven and earth. We can worship only Him.”
    Trtad frowned and said, “By saying this you render all your service to me completely worthless. I shall punish rather than reward you as I had planned. It will be prison and bondage for you unless you honor the goddess Anahid.”
    Gregory replied, “My service to you is not worthless; God values it as He promises always to value our efforts for Him. It is He I seek to please. And if you punish me, I rejoice, for my lord Christ suffered affliction and death, and I will gladly follow Him into death so that I can be with Him in everlasting life. You speak of Anahit, perhaps demons once bedazzle men into building temples for them and worshipping them. But I will not worship lifeless objects of stone. We must worship the One who lives and gives life.”
    Trtad then asked Gregory to tell him more about this living One. Gregory proceeded to explain that Christ is the Lord of creation and the true light for those in the darkness of idolatry. He exhorted the king to use his intelligence and put away the mulishly stupid devotion to mere images.
    Trtad exploded in anger. He shouted, “You have insulted the gods and insulted me by calling me stupid for worshipping them. You had the audacity to speak to me as if you were my equal. You said I was stupid as a mule; now you shall feel the burden of such words.”
    Trdat III in the early years of his reign held the views of Diocletian and Galerius towards the Christians, who were looked upon as disturbers of the social order. He was very hostile to the new religion, which had made converts in Armenia. By the time of Trtad III, Armenia had evolved a form of syncretic worship of Hellenized Indo-Iranian gods. The following provides a short history of the evolution of the gods worshipped in Armenia prior to the Christian era.
    During the fifth century BC, the Zoroastrian gods were adopted by the Armenians: Ahura-Mazda, the father of the gods was worshipped as Aramazd, Mithra, god of light and justice was known as Mihr, Anahita, goddess of fertility and mother of all wisdom became Anahit who became the favorite goddess of the Armenians. Verethrangna, the god of war, was worshipped as Vahagn. Astghik was the goddess of love. Tir, the scribe of Aramazd, was the god of science and the recorder of man’s deeds of good and evil. Barshamin and Nane, probably of Syrian origin, also formed part of the Armenian pantheon. Later, with the dominance of Alexander the Great (c. 4th century BC), and the successor Seleucid Empire, Armenia became Hellenized and identified its gods with the Greek pantheon. Aramazd became Zeus, Mihr became Hephaestus, Anahit became Artemis, Vahagn became Heracles, Astghik became Aphrodite, Tir became Apollo, Nane became Athena and Barshamin retained his original name. Thus, a form of Irano-Greek religion existed in Armenia, along with the worship of the Indian god Krishna (from the 2nd century BC) and other local spirits until the establishment of Christianity in the 4th century AD.
    Following his Roman mentors, Trtad III was suspicious of the small Christian minority in Armenia. Diocletion began persecutions of Christians in the Roman empire because he became convinced that they disrupted the sanctity of the Roman worship of gods. The disdain and utter contempt for the pantheon of Roman gods was expressed by Gregory to Trtad III. This was the prevailing attitude of the Christians toward the pagan gods and it was particularly manifested by the systematic destruction of all pagan shrines and deities that took place in Armenia after the conversion of Trtad III.
    I want to discuss what I believe to be the unabashed fanaticism of early Christianity coming from its Old Testament origins and its disdain and intolerance of any worship except that of the dominant form of Christianity. This same intolerance was later expressed toward minor sects of Christians by the dominant sect of Christians. If we carefully read the Jewish history as given in the Old Testament of the Bible, it becomes apparent that the ancient Jews also practiced a form of extreme intolerance toward all religious persuasions except Judaism and toward people of other ethnicity and race. The following is Biblical evidence that the ancient Jews had a sacred authority given to them by their God to terrorize and massacre entire ethnic and racial groups of people such as the Hittites who were the ancestors of the Armenians and destroy their temples and desecrate their gods. They were also permitted by their god to take slaves and maintain them from one generation to another from their neighboring peoples but not of their own Jewish people.
    Exodus 23:23-33 (New International Version)
    23? My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites, and I will wipe them out. 24 Do not bow down before their gods or worship them or follow their practices. You must demolish them and break their sacred stones to pieces. 25 Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, 26 and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
    27 I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. 28 I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land.
    31 I will establish your borders from the Red Sea [a] to the Sea of the Philistines, [b] and from the desert to the River. [c] I will hand over to you the people who live in the land and you will drive them out before you. 32 Do not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 Do not let them live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me, because the worship of their gods will certainly be a snare to you.”

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  • Is there a curse on the Armenian People - Part 2

    Leviticus 25:39-46 (New International Version)
    39 “If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. 40 He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.
    44 “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”
    It is not surprising that Trtad III imbibed Roman culture which was characterized by the cruel behavior of Romulus as explained above, and later, when he became a Christian, his brutality was compounded by the terrorizing fanaticism of the Judeo-Christian intolerance for any religion considered pagan.
    We will now analyze the events that took place after Trtad III warned Gregory,
    “You have insulted the gods and insulted me by calling me stupid for worshipping them. You had the audacity to speak to me as if you were my equal. You said I was stupid as a mule; now you shall feel the burden of such words.”
    Trtad III ordered his soldiers to inflict hideous tortures on Gregory, who miraculously survived the inhuman assaults on his body by continually praying to Jesus Christ. During the tortures Trtad III gave Gregory numerous opportunities to renounce his Christian faith and respect the traditional Armenian gods and especially Anahit. Gregory adamantly refused and the tortures continued. It was brought to Trtad’s attention that Gregory was the son of Anak, the assassin of his father Khosrov. This infuriated Trtad III. He decided to have Gregory thrown into a vile, deep pit called the Khor Virab which was full of foul smelling decaying carcasses of dead prisoners and many poisonous snakes. It was a veritable hell hole and very deep in the ground so escape was not possible. The Khor Virab was the ultimate destination for the most odious criminals in Trtad’s kingdom. It was a place of no return. Gregory remained a prisoner in the pit for 13 years and by some divine intervention he stayed alive. It is said a woman would throw a loaf of bread into the pit everyday for his survival.
    During the 13 years of Gregory’s incarceration, Trtad III seemingly prospered. He remained devoted to the Armenian gods and a foe of the Christian faith.
    It so happened that the Roman Emperor Diocletian sent out portrait painters into his kingdom to draw the likenesses of the most beautiful women they could find. He wanted to choose a beautiful wife for himself. In a part of Rome, the painters found an extraordinarily beautiful woman who was a nun living a monastic life. She was a member of a group of nuns who continually prayed and lived an ascetic life. When Diocletian saw the portrait of the nun, he was anxious to meet her. He ordered the mother superior of the nuns to bring the young nun to him. The nuns decided to flee Rome to avoid being victimized by the Emperor. They found refuge in Armenia far away from Rome. They settled in Vagharshapat, which later became Etchmiazin, the future holy see of the Armenian Church.
    Emperor Diocletian sent a message to his friend King Trtad III informing him about the nuns and especially the one young nun he wanted to marry. Agathangelos describes vividly the events that transpired between Trtad III and the nuns:
    “The women decided to flee, and that was how they came to be in Vagharshapat, the residence of the Armenian kings. They lived by selling the glass pearls which one of them made. But in the very same city, King Trtad received an emissary from Diocletian. He brought a royal edict which said, ‘Let my brother Trtad know of the evils that constantly beset us because of this error-ridden sect, the Christians. For they worship a dead man, adore a cross because he was crucified, and consider their own death on his behalf to be glory and honor. They teach dishonor for kings and hold as nothing the power of the sun and moon and stars. Everywhere among our people they discourage the worship of the gods, and our threats and punishments against hem are to no avail. I happened to see among them a lovely young girl, and wanted to have her as my wife. But she and her companions have insulted my majesty by fleeing to the regions of your kingdom. So, my brother, find them for me and take vengeance. Send her back to me unless you wish to keep her for yourself. And may you be well by the worship of the gods.’”
    Trtad immediately ordered a search, and the nuns were soon found. For it was ordained by God that their light should not be hidden under a bushel, but shine out over the world. And since word of the emperor’s edict had spread across the land, there were soon crowds of people straining to catch a glimpse of Hripsime’s now famous beauty. The nuns, whose only wish was to have a holy and solitary life, offered up constant prayers and lamentations to God.
    Trtad heard from those who saw her that she was indeed a great beauty. He sent a golden litter with attendants and filled with magnificent robes so that Hripsime could adorn herself and come to meet him in the palace. Seeing all this, the abbess Gayane told the younger woman, “Remember, my child, that you have abandoned your father’s throne (Hripsime was of royal lineage) and longed instead for the never-ending life of the Kingdom of Christ. Do not give up your choice now, and risk your holy virtue with these infidels.”
    Inspired by the words of the abbess, Hripsime prayed intently, asking God to protect her as He had protected all the Old Testament people who faced danger. Her sisters prayed with her, and soon they heard a voice like thunder, assuring them of God’s love and care. The thunderous sound caused panic among the throngs of people looking at them.¬ They trampled each other in their confusion. But when King Trtad was told what had happened, he was not at all frightened. He was furious that Hripsime would not come to him, and ordered that she be brought to the palace by force. So she was dragged along, with a great crowd following, and as she went she prayed like Daniel and Susanna that she would be saved from her tormentors.
    Trtad, seeing her at last, was enthralled by her beauty and tried with all his great strength to seduce her. But Hripsime, delicate as she was, struggled against him so hard that he could not overcome her. Exhausted by his efforts, he ordered the abbess Gayane to intercede with the young nun and tell her to accept him. But Gayane took the opportunity instead to strengthen Hripsime in her resistance to the king. Trtad’s attendants beat and threatened her, but she persisted in encouraging the younger woman to stand firm and trust in God.
    Hripsime did so for many hours, and then finally escaped from the palace. She ran through the city to the nuns’ dwelling place to tell them what had happened. Then she went out from the city to a high, sandy point near the main road to Artashat. There she thanked God for keeping her safe. She prayed that soon she might be allowed to leave the temptations of the world behind and enter, by His mercy, the heavenly realm. She thanked Him for the certainty that if torments were to come, He would be there with her. Hripsime ended her prayer with these words: “Let the light of the Lord God be over us.”
    That very night, Trtad’s men came and tortured Hripsime to death. Other followers of Christ were also killed, and so were many of those who came to wrap and bury their bodies. But all of them prayed to God and thanked Him for making them worthy of martyrdom. The king’s men dragged their bodies out and threw them as food for the prowling dogs.
    Trtad was unashamed of what he had done. Indeed, his heart was more inflamed against the Christians and especially against Gayane, who had counseled the beautiful Hripsime not to yield to him. He commanded that the abbess should be killed, and so she was taken to the place used for the execution of criminals. But like her companions, Gayane was unafraid, and expressed her wish to join her sisters speedily. She died as they had, with a prayer on her lips.
    King Trtad was not an introspective man, and after a week of grieving over Hripsime’s death, he had to have some strenuous activity. He arranged to go hunting, and when the hounds and nets and traps and beaters were all ready, he climbed into his chariot to leave the city for the plain where he loved to hunt.
    Suddenly, Trtad fell from the chariot, as if struck down by a demon. He began to rave and grunt, like an animal. As their king was crazed, so all the people suddenly seemed to be, and there was chaos and ruin throughout the city and from the highest to the lowest of the king’s household.
    According to Aganthangelos, after Trtad III had the saintly nuns from Rome murdered, he metamorphosed into animal-like behavior and physical features (therianthropy or becoming a beast-man). There is a more specific mental illness called lycanthrophy (wolf-like characteristics) in which a patient believes he has transformed into an animal and behaves accordingly. Trtad III cruel inhuman acts, such as torturing and throwing St. Gregory into the Khor Virab or deep pit and abusing and murdering Gayane, Hripsime and all the other nuns and Christians, caused him to be inflicted with a disorienting mental disorder. This history of Trtad III recalls to memory the story of king Nebuchadnezzar who arrogantly boasted to the prophet Daniel about his greatness as if he was mightier than God. He was afflicted with lycanthropy wherein he believed he had become an animal and gradually his body began to show animal-like features and behavior.
    “O king, the Most High God gave your father Nebuchadnezzar sovereignty and greatness and glory and splendor. 19 Because of the high position he gave him, all the peoples and nations and men of every language dreaded and feared him. Those the king wanted to put to death, he put to death; those he wanted to spare, he spared; those he wanted to promote, he promoted; and those he wanted to humble, he humbled. 20 But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory. 21 He was driven away from people and given the mind of an animal; he lived with the wild donkeys and ate grass like cattle; and his body was drenched with the dew of heaven, until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and sets over them anyone he wishes.” (Daniel 5.18)
    Trtad III became a victim of his Roman upbringing with the legacy of Romulus and Remus who were suckled by a wolf and thus imbibed the qualities of a predatory animal. His extremely cruel behavior culminated in his mental and physical transformation into a animal-like being somewhat resembling a wolf. Many people living in his royal city, Vagharshapat (Etchmiadzin), were also afflicted in the same way as their king. Trtad III sister, Khosrovitookt, had a vision that Gregory, who was thrown into the Khor Virab, could save them from the affliction. Gregory was lifted out of the pit.
    It was a miracle that he survived thirteen years in such a filthy pit. He was cleaned, dressed in new clothes and rushed to the royal town where he was approached by Trtad III who beged forgiveness. Gregory prayed to Jesus Christ to release of the king and the residents of Vagharshapat of their affliction. The saint sought the remains of the martyred nuns and had their bodily remains enshrouded and taken to their former dwelling place where he prayed continually until the next day for the salvation and repentance of the Armenians. For sixty five days, Gregory instructed the king and a large number of residents of the royal city about Christ and the Biblical histories and the lives of the Christian saints. In Gregory’s presence, the king and his people felt relief from their afflictions but not complete cure. On the sixty sixth day, Gregory revealed a vision he had of the murdered nuns who appeared where they were martyred. Aganthangelos’ description follows
    Gregory said, “One night I heard a fearful thunderous sound like roaring sea waves. The firmament of heaven opened, and a man descended in the form of light. He called my name; I looked up and saw him and fell to the ground, struck by terror. But he commanded me to look up and see great wonders.
    I did look up, and saw the firmament opened with the waters above it divided as is the firmament itself. The waters were like valleys and mountaintops, with infinite expanses that went far out of sight. Light flowed down to the earth, and the light was filled with shining two-winged creatures, human in appearance and with wings like fire. Their leader was a tall and fearful man who carried a golden hammer. He flew down near the ground in the middle of the city, and struck the earth. The rumbling sounded even in the depths of hell, and as far as the eye could see the earth was struck as level as a plain.
    I saw him in the middle of the city, near the palace, a circular base of gold as big as a hill, with a column of fire on it. On top of the column was a capital of clouds, and above that a cross of light. There were three other bases at the sites where St. Gayane and St. Hripsime were martyred, and one near the wine press where the nuns lived. These bases were blood-red, and they had columns of clouds and capitals of fire. From the columns, marvelous vaults fitted into one another and above this was a dome-shaped canopy of clouds. Under the canopy were thirty-seven holy martyrs in shining light. I cannot even describe them.
    At the summit of all this was a wonderful throne of fire with the Lord’s cross above it. Light spread out in every direction from it. And an abundant spring gushed forth, flowing over and filling the plains as far as one could see. They made a vast bluish sea, the color of heaven. There were numerous fiery altars shining like stars, with a column on each altar and a cross on each column.
    There were herds of black goats, which when they passed through the water became sparkling white sheep. They gave birth to more sheep, filling the land. But some of these crossed to the other side of the water and became brown wolves which attacked the flocks. But the flocks grew wings and flew up to join the shining host, and a torrent of fire carried away the wolves.
    I stood amazed at this sight. And the man who had earlier called my name and said, ‘Why do you stand gaping? Pay attention to what is being revealed to you. The heavens have been opened! Here is what the vision means. The voice like thunder is the beginning of God’s mercy raining down upon mankind. The gates of heaven are opened, and also the waters above them. There is nothing to keep us mortals from rising up, for those who were martyred here have made a path for others.
    The light filling the land is the preaching of the Gospel, and the fearsome man is the providence of God, who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke, as the psalm tells us. This fear of God has flattened and destroyed error on the earth.
    The golden base is God’s true Church, gathering all His people, and the shining cross above it is Christ Himself. The three blood-red bases are the martyrs’ torments. But the columns of cloud show how quickly they will rise to heaven at the universal resurrection. The capital is fiery because they will love in the fire of divine light. And the crosses show that they are fellow sufferers with their lord Christ.
    The vaults joining the columns show the unity of the Church, and the cloud canopy above shows the gathering place of all believers, the celestial city. The throne, above which the whole structure is held together, is almighty God, the head of the Church. The shining light around the throne is the Holy Spirit, who glorifies the Son. The spreading waters are the grace of the Spirit, which will save many through baptism and make earth like heaven (that is why the plains became the color of heaven.) The herds of goats are sinners, washed clean by God’s mercy, and worthy of His Kingdom. The flocks of sheep give birth because many generations will hear the preaching of the Word; but the flocks that became wolves are like those who depart from the truth. They lead sheep astray with their falsehoods. But the sheep that endure will rise to Christ’s Kingdom, and the wolves will be handed over to eternal fire.’”
    Gregory continued, ‘And when he had told me the vision’s meaning, he said to be strong because I had a great task. I was to build a temple to God on the place where the gold base had been shown to me, and the martyrs’ chapels in the places where they suffered and died. After he told me all this, there was an earthquake, and I could see him no more.
    God showed me this vision of the future so that I could do His will among you. Let us go now and build the chapels, giving the martyrs rest.’
    “So all the people took up tools, and gathered materials, and set to work. Gregory himself took the architect’s measuring line and laid out the foundations. They built three chapels, and made a casket for each saint’s body. After Gregory had sealed the caskets, the king and people brought sweet oils and incense and rich robes. But Gregory said, ‘I am glad to see you honor these saints. But do not offer gifts to the holy ones until you have been purified by baptism. One day, we shall use all these beautiful things to adorn God’s altar. But until true worship is established in this land, let them remain in the royal treasury.’
    The time had come for the king and all the people to be completely freed from their tormenting demons. Gregory knelt by the saints’ caskets and prayed for Trtad and all the rest. Then he turned to the king, and by Christ’s grace cured his hands and feet enough so that he was able with his own hands to dig graves and bury the caskets in them. His wife Ashkhen and sister Khosrovitookht helped him to arrange the places. With his prodigious strength Trtad carried stones from Mount Massis to make thresholds for the chapels.
    When the chapels were ready, the martyrs were laid to rest in them. Gregory placed a cross in front of each, and told the people that the proper place for worship was in front of that saving sign of Jesus Christ. Then he took them to build a high wall around the place where the golden base had been revealed, for that was to be the site of the Lord’s house. There too, a cross was placed so that people could worship God truly.
    Gregory could see that the people were willing to heed his words, give up idol worship, and give themselves to study, fasting, and prayer. He gathered them to pray together for healing, and as they all prayed, the king was fully restored to his human appearance, and the people were freed from their various afflictions. The news of this wonder spread through the land, inspiring people everywhere to come to Ayrarat and hear about Jesus Christ, and learn how to live as He calls us to do.
    Gregory then asked the king for permission to overthrow and destroy the pagan shrines and temples. Trtad readily issued an edict entrusting Gregory with this task, and himself set out from the city to destroy shrines along the highways. Together the men worked feverishly, and they distributed the temple treasures among the poor. In all the cities he visited, Gregory marked sites for Christian churches, but because he did not hold the rank of priest he did not erect any altars. At each place he set a cross, and he also placed crosses along roads and at squares and intersections.
    Trtad and his family members were then thoroughly instructed in the faith by Gregory. When they had all been convinced to worship the only true God, Gregory and Trtad began traveling to other parts of the country to instruct the people and to destroy the altars of the false gods. In many of the provincial towns, demons in the form of armed soldiers fought against the evangelist’s efforts. They were put to flight each time, and then Gregory would tell the people not to be afraid, but to drive out their own personal demons of false worship, and follow Christ. He performed miracles to show the people how loving and powerful God is. And the king gave testimony about his sinful acts, and the miracles and mercy of healing which God had shown him.
    So they traveled through the provinces and everywhere they spread the light of the Gospel and destroyed the dark pagan superstitions which had held the people captive.
    After they returned to Vagharshapat, Trtad called together all his courtiers and the leaders from every corner of the land. The king wanted to make Gregory their pastor, so that everyone could be baptized and begin in earnest to live the new life in Christ. Gregory protested his unworthiness, but Trtad had a wonderful vision from God urging him to carry out his plan, and the angelic vision also appeared to Gregory, telling him not to thwart it. So Gregory said: ‘Let God’s will be done.’
    Trtad then chose some of the leading princes to take Gregory to Caesarea, in Cappadocia, with an edict for the bishop Leontius. The edict gave the whole history of Armenia’s pagan worship, the suffering of the nuns, Gregory’s witness and work among the people, and the king’s own desire to have Gregory be the spiritual leader of Armenia.
    The group set off with Gregory in a royal carriage, taking along gifts for each of the churches they would pass. They were welcomed heartily in the land of the Greeks, who rejoiced to hear of God’s miracles and the great conversion which had taken place. When the men reached Caesarea, Gregory was duly ordained, and the bishops laid their hands on him and prayed for him. He, too, was now consecrated as a bishop for God’s church.
    With joyous and loving farewells, the nobles and Gregory set out for home, and as they stopped at various towns, Gregory persuaded some good Christian men to return with him and be ordained to serve the people. In all the towns, crowds of people gathered to see the new bishop pass, and to receive his blessing.”
    Very similar to Daniel in the Old Testament, Gregory has a vision or a dream and gives an elaborate description and interpretation that presages the future. The establishment of the foundation of Christianity in Armenia will be the place where the Roman nuns were martyred. The purity of the nun’s sacrifice of their lives for Jesus Christ is a sort of re-enactment of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made on Golgotha. His blood became the purifying elixir for the salvation of humanity. The places where the nun’s sacrificed their lives and blood and were laid to rest by Gregory with the help of Trtad III and his family become the holiest places for Armenian Christians. It should be noted that the main characters in this history are nuns who were not Armenian although they have been canonized as Armenian saints, Gregory whose parents were Parthians and who was raised in a Greek Christian environment and who married a very pious woman most probably of Greek descent, and Trtad III whose father was of Parthian ancestry and whose upbringing was entirely under Roman influence. This may help us to understand why the Christian conversion of Armenia lead to the systematic destruction of almost all pre-Christian Armenian temples with their deities, libraries and in many cases the murder of pagan priests. It was perpetrated with complete disdain for all pre-Christian Armenian culture and history. As a side note, this same disdain seems to be exercised today. See the following recent communication decrying the Armenian Church’s opposition to declaring Armenian National Identity Day be associated with the 5th Century BC victory of Hayk triumphant over Bel.
    “As it is well-known, recently, a draft law was presented to the National Assembly aimed at making amendments to the ‘Concerning Republic of Armenia Holidays’ to declare August the 11th – the day Hayk triumphed over Bel – ‘Armenian National Identity Day,’ while the holiday’s preceding five days would be declared Navasardyan Games Days.
    The draft law, in its initial form was debated and accepted at the first reading. It appeared that the bill will soon be put in its final form and ratified by the National Assembly and finally our Holiday Calendar will include a truly Nationalistic holiday, a holiday truly coming from the nation’s essence and ratified by law (All the other holidays ratified by the National Assembly are not as such, they are ecclesiastical or state-political holidays).
    But the Armenian apostolic church is not asleep, so that the NA stand steadfast by its decision and reward the Nation with an Identity Day ratified by the assembly itself. According to trustworthy and reliable sources, the church is categorically against declaring National Identity Day- the day Armenia Triumphed. According to them, as it is well-known, the Armenian Identity derives from 301 AD, before then, the Armenian as such, and Armenia as such did not exist, hence, what kind of a National Identity Day can anyone dare talk about? The church is for the abstract formulation of Navasartyan Holiday which should be celebrated not on the day of the Victory, but on the day of a certain religious holiday. Well, if the church is against , how dare the National Assembly. If the state by its own free will (through some other bill) is preparing to become a theocracy, then who is capable of taking steps independently, that would be beneficial to the Nation?
    It is not by accident, that the church, immediately after hearing the news about the self-willed initiative by the NA, got excited and took alarm and is doing everything it can to bring the Deputies of the National Assembly back to their senses. Furthermore, the church has mobilized the pitiful Armenian intellectuals which are under its influence . The latter are bringing all kinds of absurd, senseless, ridiculous proofs and evidences - namely, Hayk was a Christian, long before Jesus was born, hence, his victory should be celebrated as a victory for Christianity! Or prior to the year 301AD, the Armenians didn’t exist, hence, Armenian Identity ( Identity Day) should be linked to the spread of Christianity, which was achieved with Grigory’s fire and sword. Or Armenian Identity should be linked to the translation of foreign books (Holy Translators Day) and other ridiculous proofs.
    In this regard, let’s clarify once and for all, that our glorious ancestor Hayk, was one of our Arian-Heathen patriarchs and bears no relation to Christianity and the more so, has nothing to do with Jehovah worshipping. Hayk’s victory was the continuation of His forefathers’ victories that periodically restore and re-establish The Law of Armenian Gods in Armenians cradle.
    Not to devalue further the muppet-show actors mentioned above, let’s return to Republic of Armenia’s National Assembly.
    The Armenian Nationalists Union believes that this is a good opportunity for the National Assembly to manifest itself as being the National Assembly, and to express its willingness as being the upholder and the guardian of the national traditions.
    Otherwise, we will be convinced even more that the NA has got nothing to do with the national life of Armenians and is a body which creates and passes laws (Concerning Holidays as well) which do not serve the Armenian interests and reality and continuous to adopt enactments which serve the re-evaluation of a foreign identity upon us, and continuous to follow the Ecumenical Movement’s adopted document, thus, serving the faith and the interests of the chosen people.”
    Armenian Nationalists Union Council, 18 March 2009
    To understand the extent of this disdain for pre-Christian Armenian heritage, we can examine what Vahan Kurkjian has written in his History of Armenia
    “The conversion of the nation was not accomplished without great difficulty; the pagan priests, possessors of vast fortunes, were politically and economically powerful. They had since the earliest times wrung profit from the people by every possible act and circumstance. Gregory, backed by Trdat, found little trouble in converting some districts whose inhabitants yielded peacefully to the change. But in others pagan communities, which were more recalcitrant, the bishop (Gregory), accompanied by the principal nakharars and their soldier-serfs, used force, destroying idols, demolishing the pagan temples and slaying priests who opposed the conversion.. According to the ancient historian, Zenob of Glak, the resistance was violent in the district of Taron and the territory of Palouniq. In the great burgh of Kissaneh, a real battle took place between the army of the pagan priests and that of the Armenian kingdom of Trtad. Gregory gave the order to pull down the idol of Kissaneh (Krishna), which was of copper and twelve arms’ lengths in height. The pagan priests fought fanatically, crying, ‘Let us die before the great Kissaneh be destroyed.’ ‘This spot,’ says Zenob, ‘was the gate of demons, whose number was as large at Kissaneh as in the depths of hell,’ and who cried out, ‘Even if you should drive us away from here, there shall never be rest for those who wish to domicile here.’”
    But, while Gregory was aiming at the conversion of the people and the annihilation of paganism, the nakharars were thinking of the riches and land they could expropriate from the pagan temples.
    ‘The following day, (after the fight at the temple of Kissaneh), says Zenob, ‘a pagan priest was brought to the Prince of Sewniq (one of Gregory’s noble escorts). He was pressed to reveal the place where the treasures were hidden; he refused and died on the gibbet in torture. It has been impossible to discover the treasures since.’
    As to the lands belonging to the pagan sanctuaries, each of the new churches received a share of them. ‘After having laid the foundation of the church,’ says Zenob, ‘and deposited therein the relics, St. Gregory erected the wooden sign of the Cross of the Lord at the very gate, on the site of the idol Kissaneh, and left Anthony and Gronites to manage the church. He appointed Epiphanes as the superior of the monastery, giving him forty-three monks and assigning him twelve villages for the support of the establishment.
    In all, the villages assigned to the new clergy contained 12,298 houses and could muster an army of 5,470 cavalry and 3,807 infantry. All these villages had long been appropriated to the service of the idols. Armenian chroniclers, themselves zealous champions of the new religion, attribute to Trdat and Gregory many acts of violence during the establishment of Christianity, and maltreatment of the pagan priests and their adherents, deepening the bitterness of feeling between the two factions.’”
    Vahan Kurkjian is getting his information from the descriptions of Zenob of Glak, a Syrian priest who was one of the earliest students of St. Gregory the Illuminator. He wrote a history of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity entitled “History of Taron.” He accompanied St Gregory and the nakharars who were Armenian princes with their armed soldiers. Taron was an important province of ancient Armenia that was on the western bank of Lake Van and included the areas of modern Moush and Sasoun. It is a district of hills and plains on the upper Euphrates River. It adjoined the country later settled by the illustrious Mamigonian clan who were supposed to have migrated there from China in the 3rd century AD. Zenob pays particular attention to the Hindu colony that existed in Armenia since the middle of the 2nd century BC until the end of the 4th century AD. Zenob wrote his history in Syriac and it was later translated into Armenian. It was printed in Armenian by the Mekhitarist Fathers in 1832.
    According to Zenob, two Hindu princes, named Gissaneh, which was probably the Greek pronunciation for the Vedic Supreme God Krishna, and Demeter, the Greek equivalent for a female deity (Earth-Mother or goddess of grain and fertility) which was most probably reminiscent Rukmini devi, an expansion of Laxmi devi, who is worshipped with Lord Krishna as His eternal consort in Dwarka, fled from the area of Kanauj in northern India not far from Mathura and Vrindaban. They were embroiled in a plot against the king of Kanauj named Dinaksi. They found refuge in Armenia in 149 BC. They were accorded safe haven by King Valarsaces who offered them land in the province of Taron, which is near the western banks of Lake Van. The princes settled in Ashtishat which was a religious center in ancient Armenia famous for its temple of the goddess Anahit and other national gods of Armenia. They erected temples to their god and goddess which they worshipped in India and maintained Hindu priests for their worship. Due to some conflict, the Hindu leaders Gissaneh and Demeter were put to death. The Armenian king gave their sons permission to establish their own villages. One son named Kuars built a village called Kuars, his brother named Meghtes built a village called Meghti and the other brother built a village named Horeans in another province called Paloonies. Later, the brothers built two temples near the Hindu villages close to the mountain Karki (or Kharkh). They installed two deities which were made of brass. One was Krishna and the other Rukmini (an expansion of Laxmi). The priests that cared for the deities were all Hindus. After some time, twenty Hindu villages were built and their population reached 15,000. These villages flourished for 450 years until Christianty became the state religion of Armenia and the Hindus were either forced to convert or were killed.
    During the period of Greek, Roman and Persian influence over Armenia before the dominance of Christianity, the Armenians were able to adopt and adapt their various gods so that there was little religious conflict with their neighbors. The Armenian gods were for the most part syncretized versions of Indo-Iranian gods and Greek and Roman gods. The Hindu gods were accepted during the pre-Christian times by the Armenian kings. But with the rise of Christianity and its Judeo-Christian bias, a troubling element of intolerance became the standard as evinced by St.Gregory’s absolute rejection of any other form of worship except Christianity. This led to future wars with the Persians who feared the establishment of Christianity in Armenia. Later, with the rise of Islam, a Judeo-Semitic religion, the same spirit of intolerance was manifested by the Arabs over the Christian Armenians. To further compound the plight of the Armenians, the Armenian Orthodox church developed doctrinal differences with the Greek and Roman churches. This caused more difficulties and suffering and eventually was a factor in the fall of successive Armenian kingdoms to different groups of invading Arabs and Turks. . With the rise of Christianity in Armenia, the Hindu gods shared the same fate as the Armenian pre-Christian gods.
    Zenob was a witness to the campaign against the Hindus in Taron. He writes:
    “And having taken our departure from there (Thordan), we intended to proceed to Karin and Harkh, but some of the Armenian princes informed St.Gregory of the existence of two temples in the province of Taron which still offered sacrifices to the devils, whereupon he resolved to demolish them. Having arrived in the country of the Paloonies, in the extensive village, called Gissaneh, near the village town of Kuars, we met there some of the heathen priests. Having ascertained from the Hindu prince of Hashtents that the great images of Gissaneh and Demeter were to be leveled to the ground on the following day, they [Hindus] returned to the temples in the dead of the night and removed the treasures and filled them into subterraneous houses.”
    The Indian Head priest buried the statues of the Hindu gods, hid the treasures of the temples, and then informed the priests of Ashtishat to gather armed forces and come for help. The following day heathen Armenians joined the Indians and a fierce battle took place. The heathens suffered a defeat. The six Hindu priests who worshipped the deities in the two temples were murdered by the Armenian soldiers and thrown into a deep pit.
    After the battle a monument was raised in the Innagnian Mountains near the Hindu villages which bore the following inscription:
    “The first battle, which was fought very fiercely. Artzan [Arjun], the head priest, the Chief Commander of the battle, lies interred here, and with him one thousand and thirty eight men. We waged this war on account of the idol Gissaneh and on behalf of Christ.”
    On the site of the two Hindu temples, St Gregory constructed a monastery, which was named Sourp Garabed (St. John the Baptist). He deposited the relics of St. John the Baptist (some of his bodily parts) and Athanagineh the Martyr, which he had brought from Caesaria. Because of St. John the Baptist’s reputed healing powers, the monastery in his name became one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for all Armenians who sought healing and salvation.
    Dr. Mesrob Jacob Seth has written an interesting article entitled “Hindoos in Armenia” published by the Armenian Chruch committee of Calcutta in 1982. He writes about the forced conversion of the Hindus living in Taron at the time of St. Gregory’s campaign about 301 AD.
    “Some of these converted Hindoos adhered tenaciously to the idolatrous practices of their forefathers, despite the paternal persuasions and the exhortations of St.Gregory. They went even further and taunted the Armenian princes by telling them that if they lived they would retaliate for the harsh treatment they had received at their hands, but if they died, the gods would wreak their vengeance on the Armenians on their behalf.
    At this, the prince of the house of Angegh ordered them to be taken immediately to the city of Phaitakaran where they were incarcerated and their heads shaved as an insult and a sign of degradation. These prisoners numbered four hundred. From the narrative of Zenob, the Syrian, it appears that the Hindu colony had, since their settlement in Armenia in the year 150 B.C. to the day of the memorable battle in the year 301 A.D. a period of 450 years, multiplied and increased considerably and formed a distinct and an important colony of their own in the fertile province of Taron where in the year 286 A.D. a Chinese colony had also settled under Mamigon, the founder of the house of Mamigonian which gave Vardan to Armenia, who fought the Sassanians when they wanted to force the religion of Zoroaster on Christian Armenia in the year 451 A.

    On the restoration of peace between the Armenians and the Hindus, the Armenian prince of the house of Siunies proceeded to the Hindu village of Kuars and succeeded in persuading the inhabitants of that place to renounce idolatry and embrace the Christian faith which had now became the State religion. His efforts were crowned with success and they were prepared for baptism, and being conducted to the valley of Ayzasan they were baptized by St. Gregory.
    According to Zenob, who as I have said was a disciple of the Apostle of Armenia, and an eye-witness of the events he narrates, the Hindues that were baptized on the first day of Navasard, (the ancient Armenian New Year day) numbered 5,050 and these were composed of men and children only, as the females were, it appears excluded from that number and baptized on another day specially appointed for the occasion.”
    Zenob has chronicled that the Hindu priests who were murdered before the destruction of their temples warned the Armenian naxarars, “the gods would wreak their vengeance on the Armenians on their behalf.” Some of the Hindus who were forced to convert, but retained their Hindu practices warned, “Even if you should drive us away from here, there shall never be rest for those who wish to domicile here.” I believe this is the origin of a curse or dark cloud that has plagued the Armenian people since those fateful days of the forced conversion to Christianity.
    There is a very interesting short story written by Sempad Der Kerope Shahnazarian called “The Symphony of Our Soil.” I recently spoke to his son Arsen Shahnazarian. He told me that his father was born in Moush which is near the monastery of St Garabed. His grandfather was a monk in that monastery. His father was the priest of the Armenian church in Moush. Sempad Der Kerope Shahnazarian was a student in the monastery of St Garabed in his youth. Therefore, the story he relates is not completely fictional. There are some historical elements of the story that are truthful such as the existence of a pit inside the monastery where it is said that the Hindu priests were thrown after they were murdered. We also know that the Hindu priests of Krishna’s temple hid the deities of Krishna and Rukmini and the valuable treasures of the temple before the Armenians came to pillage and destroy them. It is very possible that these relics are still buried deep under the remains of St. Garabed Monastery.
    The following is an excerpt from Shahnazarians short story.
    “One Sunday morning, mass was being held in the chapel of Sourp Haroutune. This little chapel had been built seventeen hundred years before on the ruins of the pagan temples Demetre and Kissane.
    That chapel was the nucleus around which had grown, through the long centuries, the imposing Saint John Monastery which was surrounded by fortress-like walls. During the mass, Avedis remembered the day when he entered school there. He remembered how one of the monks walked with him to the chapel. The door was locked so he approached one of the slit-like windows on the mossy wall and said; ‘Put your ears here and listen.’
    He placed his right ear against the window and listened.
    ‘Do you hear anything?’
    Avedis wasn’t quite sure if he had heard anything special yet.
    ‘Listen intently and concentrate. Can’t you hear voices now, that seem to come from far away?’
    Somewhat hesitatingly, Avedis thought this time he seemed to hear some sort of whisperings; faint, blurred voices.
    ‘That’s it! Those voices that you hear come from the bottomless pit where Gregory the Illuminator had thrown the Pagan monks and nuns after they were defeated by the Christian Armenians centuries ago.’
    Avedis shuddered but kept standing there for awhile with his face against the window listening.
    Even now when mass is being celebrated, all of the boy’s curiosity is focused on trying to hear those voices.
    Every time the readings and Sharagans stop a deep silence would follow. During that silence he would strain his hearing, tense and in anticipation, to see if he could still hear the same voices, or any voice for that matter, from the underground Hindu monks.
    Those were exciting moments for Avedis for he seemed to hear whispers and footsteps crowding the chapel. He even heard them singing with the choir in a different language. Great excitement for Avedis!
    When the mass was over, the congregation, composed of a couple dozen monks and students, began moving out in extreme silence.
    On his way out Avedis noticed a sign, near the entrance. Which read: Beware! This is the bottomless pit. The abyss. This sharpened his curiosity to the degree that he hid himself in one corner until everybody left, and the key screeched in the keyhole.
    He immediately came out of his hiding-place and began to explore the entrance to that historic hole.
    He lighted a candle and stepped down cautiously. It looked like a huge cave with the walls and the ceiling hidden in darkness. On his left, he saw a stand where dozens of bricks were arranged like books on a shelf. He approached and scrutinized the writings on them in the pallid candlelight, but couldn’t make out what language it was; he tenderly caressing the earthen books and walked away without being able to penetrate the secrets of that library.
    A few steps down on the platform two huge bronze statues of God and Goddesses stood high, firm and silent. Demetre and Kissane.
    They had the most mysterious looking eyes which followed him wherever he went. Their hollow and cold depths made him shudder.
    While looking at them more closely and calmly, he was filled with a flow of warm sensations. In those eyes he saw the reflection of the magic beauty of Armenia’s mountains and plateaus, ¦the fields and the vineyards, the kings and queens in resplendent procession, the crystalline blue of the sky, the enchanting sunrise of our worshippers¦and he felt an urge to approach them to touch their strong metallic bodies and to kiss their divine hands.
    He wanted to get closer because they were actually saying something and he wanted to hear what they were saying. The more he advanced the farther they withdrew. It remained a mystery what they were trying to say to him. They walked silently on the soft dark earth for miles, brushing past the foundations of our mountains and watching the sources of our waterfalls, rivers and springs.
    Footsteps were heard in the Moush Plain where the Meghraked and Aradzani rivers rumbled on, dark and furious.
    Going through the volcanic passages of Pure-Agn, they entered into a devotional silence. The immense caverns of Mount Ararat where our ancestors had gathered in holiday garments to read their essays on Dialectical Materialism to display their artistic achievements enthusiastically ¦to strongly criticize our naive view of the architecture of Heaven, to disclose the idea of God to be a purely poetical conception unveil their undeniable proof that our universe is soulless and complex “a Mechanical Structure ” and to admit that its eternal beauty consists in the daring flights of imagination and the luminous thunder of symphonies.
    On his way back he saw some of our living dead perched here and there on rocks, cliffs, in the craters of extinct volcanoes and the sunny fields far away refusing to go to Heaven but preferring to live on their soil to enjoy its warmth and affection, to hear the voices of their children overhead and to eagerly watch over their dreams, their thoughts, their deeds.
    The evening bells of Saint John Monastery shook Avedis out of his day-dream; he crawled out of the pit and into the chapel, opened the door and came out into the bright sunshine.
    That night his soul was inundated with new lights and new sensations. Through an opening in the wall the moonbeam rested obliquely on the floor of his cell. Millions of particles danced there like the thoughts in the flashes of his mind. His poor and desolate cell was full of voices now. Whispers, hums and blurred words came to his ears. He tried to sleep but couldn’t. He got up, took the History of Zenop Klag near his cot and scurried through its pages.
    He read about the battle between the forces of the Christian and the Pagan Armenians on the Innagnian Mountains. He read it with intense feeling and emotion and stopped at the point where the Pagans were defeated, their temples ransacked and destroyed and the monks were thrown into the bottomless pit.
    The description of the battle was so vivid and realistic he could actually hear the whinnying of horses, the groaning of the wounded, the proud shouts of the victorious Christians and the wailing of the defeated Pagans.
    He could clearly see the onslaught of the Christian soldiers into the temples; the terror of the monks and nuns, their prayers before the bronze statues, their terrified screams, the bloody swords. He was greatly moved by all of this but in his mental turmoil a question stood high and clear in his mind.
    What of it?
    The pagans were physically overpowered. Were they defeated?
    A superb view of the underground world unveiled itself before his eyes. Fountains of multicolor lights illuminated wide panoramas. Human shadows moving around, conversing, singing, reciting from the fields rapturous music spread out its veils like a golden mist from the vineyards, the wine flowed like rosy poetry in the prairies, the plowshare, with lyric poetry, broke the ground into long furrows which lay parallel like pregnant rays of the sun.
    Absorbed in these thoughts, his heart was melting like a burning candle. He felt sparks of meditations sputtering around dark veils of mystery floating in the air, intellectual intoxication pregnant with immortal creations, philosophical struggle in the dark waters of mysteries, colorful bonfire of daring imagination, underground symphonies shaking the mountains into a weird dance.
    Who got defeated? The Pagans? Their parchments, and their statues? No they’re not dead. They are inalienable and eternal. They are our sources of inspiration. Some of them have actually returned to their corporal lives.
    They are breathing, moving, living and working with us.”
    Shahnazarian’s imaginative story, which could very well have been partially autobiographical, affirms the fact that the monastery of St. Garabed near Moush was reputed to be an ancient pre-Christian temple. The Avedis in the story reads the History of Zenob of Glak while residing in the monastery. He literally relives the attack on the Hindu temple by the fanaticized Christian forces. It is possible that the bronze Deities of the Hindu gods are buried underneath the ruins of Saint Garabed monastery waiting to be unearthed.
    The ancient city of Troy was discovered to be factual in the 19th century by German-American adventurer Heinrich Schliemann who read the Iliad and imagined that if the story was not fiction but factual then it would be possible to discover the fabled city. He studied ancient maps and determined where the ancient city might be located. His find was one of the greatest archeological finds of history. Similarly, it may be possible to find the remains of a pre-Christian Hindu temple in the area of Moush, Turkey under the crumbled remains of the monastery of St. Garabed (John the Baptist).
    The district of Taron is considered the cradle of ancient Armenian identity and history. The area around Lake Van including Moush and Sasoun are the hallowed land where Mesrob Mashdotz was born, Movses Khorenatsi is buried in Arakelots monastery, the island of Aghtamar with its famous monastery in Lake Van, the cave where Narekatzi lived and wrote above Lake Van, etc. But even more importantly, the pre-Christian history of Armenia was also centered near Lake Van and its outlying areas. The epic Sassountzi David took place in the hills of Sasoun and Moush. The history of Ara and Semiramis (c. 1500 BC) took place in the vicinity of Lake Van. Later, Semiramis built a summer palace on the banks of Lake Van. The epic story of Hayk and Bel (c. 2400 BC) ends with the termination of Bel whosed body is thrown into the Hayots Dsor ot the Armenian Cavernous passages through the mountains near Van. Armenians name themselves as Hye and their land as Hayastan after the fabled Hayk. The outside world refers to the Armenians as the Armens named after the epic hero Ara.
    To demonstrate the importance of Taron district in Armenian history, I am including a excerpt from an article entitled “A Sketch of Raffi’s Life by Donald Abcarian based on the biography of Raffi, one of the greatest writers of Armenian history, authored by Khachik Samvelian. He writes,
    “Having successfully started a school in Salmast, Hagop ( Hagop Mirzayan (1832-1888) whose pen name was Raffi) decided to visit Western Armenia for the first time. Together with a new found friend and colleague, Isahak Der-Abrahamian, he joined the Salmastsi pilgrims on their annual pilgrimage to Saint Garabed monastery in Moush for the Blessing of The Grapes Festival that would take place on the second Sunday of August, 1857. His true motivation was not religious piety but the imperative of acquainting himself with the actual conditions of life in Western Armenia.
    It was on this trip that he saw Van for the first time, a deeply moving experience for him since it was the original homeland of his ancestors. The party of pilgrims stopped for a few days in the Aykesdan of Van (the verdant agricultural suburb southeast of the city) before proceeding on to Moush. Hagop took advantage of this time to explore Van and talk to all kinds of people. He wrote feverishly into the night to set his countless thoughts and observations to paper. Very significantly, it was on this trip that he visited Varag monastery and there met Khrimian Hairig for the first time, an experience immortalized in the chapter called “Varag” in his longest novel “Gaidzer.”
    The next day the caravan set out again for Moush and St. Garabed’s monastery. But Hagop left the city with a heavy heart. He had come all the way from Salmast to Van to find the conditions of the Armenians there at least as deplorable and hopeless as they were in Salmast and learned of the high numbers of Vanetzis who were deserting their homeland to go to Istanbul for lowly, backbreaking jobs.
    The caravan proceeded from Van to Ardamed, where it halted for the night, then through Hayots Tsor (The Canyon of The Armenians), to Mt. Ardos, where it rested once more, then on to Bitlis and Moush. On its approach to Moush, the caravan passed through the ancient village of Hatsmik where Mesrop Mashdots, the originator of the Armenian alphabet, was born. This setting would later be evoked in several chapters of “Gaidzer.” On reaching St. Garabed monastery Raffi attended the Blessing Of The Grapes ceremony with all the other pilgrims on the second Sunday of August.
    Before leaving the area of Moush, Raffi first paid his respects at the grave of the great medieval historian Movses Khorenatsi in Arakelots monastery, then joined the caravan to return home. The caravan crossed Hayots Tsor once again, then took the even road north toward Lake Van and the island of Aghtamar with its famous monastery. While Aghtamar was of tremendous historical interest to Hagop, his experience there was far from pleasant, for he ran headlong into the stubborn ignorance and corruptness of monastic life there. The monks took an immediate disliking to this stranger who openly professed his liberal notions on education and cultural advancement. Word got around that he was either a Catholic or a Protestant” or both! One evening, as he was sitting alone on a high rock contemplating the beauty of Lake Van and the surrounding landscape, a group of hostile monks approached with angry shouts and were about to throw him into the lake, but he narrowly escaped their wrath. The rock on which he had been sitting would afterwards become known as “Raffi’s Rock.”
    The area of Van and especially Moush and Sasoun was the cradle of ancient pre-Christian Armenian life, culture and national identity. Even today, there are so many folk songs glorifying the Armenian memory of Moush and Sasoun sung and danced to by Armenians who fervently do not want to forget their ancestral homeland.
    It is important to turn our attention specifically to aggressive Christianization of Armenia. Although Christianity had converts in Armenia, it was not an important community among the Armenian peasantry and nobles. Once St. Gregory converted Trtad III, a state sponsored coercive conversion began that, in many ways, resembled a colonial conquest of Armenia. The word “colonial” can be pertinently used if we take account of the systematic destruction of all pre-Christian literature and documents in the different temples and monasteries of ancient Armenia. Not only were the pre-Christian temples and shrines destroyed and on top of their foundations Christian Churches were purposely built, but every vestige of written manuscripts of the ancient Armenian civilization was destroyed.
    This fanatical determination to completely erase any vestige of Armenian pre-Christian culture and religion may have been due to the fact that St. Gregory was educated in Greek-Roman territory of Caesaria under the influence of Greek Christian priests. His father was of Parthian ancestry (Hellenized Persians) who may or may not have been part of the Armenian branch of the Persian nobility. It was Leontius of Caesarea (a non-Armenian) who made him bishop of the Armenians. Zenob of Glak writes about a letter sent by St. Gregory to his superior Leontius in Caesaria. The Armenian saint asks Leontius to send to Armenia foreign priests and bishops who were either Greek or Assyrian such as Zenob. There were only a few trained Armenian priests at the time of the mass conversion. He promised the priests that came that they could convert the Armenians and also appropriate whatever they found desirable in Armenia which was a rather rich, verdant land especially in the area of Van. St. Gregory’s words were not empty promises. What actually happened was an amazing and aggressive land and wealth grab by the new Armenian Christian Mission of St. Gregory. King Trtad III was able to convince a certain number of loyal naxarars or noble Armenian warrior-class regional and dynastic leaders to use their armed forces to persuade (actually coerce) the Armenian peasantry to abandon their pagan rites and become baptized into the new foreign faith of Christianity.
    What we can discern is that the Roman predator nature incarnate in Trtad III combined with the fanaticism of early Christianity which had its roots in the ancient semitic tradition of intolerance for any religion other than its own, melded together. This fierce new religious fervor gave rise to an unprecedented pillage and destruction of Armenia’s pre-Christian cultural heritage. In the “Original Catholic Encyclopedia” there is an article about St. Gregory wherein it says,
    “The (pagan) temples were made into churches and the people baptized in thousands. So completely were the remains of the old heathendom effaced that we know practically nothing about the original Armenian religion (as distinct from Mazdeism), except the names of some gods whose temples were destroyed or converted (the chief temple at Ashtishat (in the district of Taron) was dedicated to Vahagn, Anahit and Astlik; Vanatur was worshipped in the North round Mount Ararat, etc.).”
    An Armenian writer named Eddie Arnavoudian in an article entitled “The Armenian Conversian to Christianity as Colonial Conquest” writes,
    “To permanently subdue its newly conquered population, the Church, like colonial powers in all ages, set out to destroy the intellectual and cultural heritage of pre-Christian Armenia so as to annihilate its historically developed, independent national identity. As a final mark of arrogance, it built its own Churches on `the very ground and with the very same masonry as that of the pagan temples’ it destroyed, copying even their architecture. Further, the Armenian Christian Church became very wealthy almost overnight by expropriating all the villages and farms connected to the wealthy pagan temples on whose sites new churches were built in continuation of cult in the same localities. This quick transformation from the pagan cult to the Christian cult kept the feudal entitlement to exact taxes and other financial privileges in the hands of the new Armenian priesthood.
    The Armenian Church also adeptly incorporated many pagan festivals into the church rituals so that the people would feel that the change was not a total rejection of the pre-Christian practices. The Armenian Church adopted the celebration of the blessing of the first harvest of grapes on the same date as the pre-Christian new year called Navasard about the second week of August. Until today, the Armenian Church continues to celebrate pagan festivals that were Christianized and made part of the rituals of the church.
    The conversion of Armenia to Christianity was not completed overnight as one may believe. There was opposition by many Armenian people, the priests of the pagan temples, and even naxarars. The suppression of such opponents was brutal. It was conducted under the auspices of St. Gregory and the “foreign priests” that accompanied him. King Trtad III was unrelenting in his resolve to convert the entire Armenian population and destroy all pagan temples. In a few years from 280 AD to 301 AD, the Christian church movement in Armenian went from being a small minority of persecuted believers to a organized movement with a state military capable of forcing large portions of the population to convert to a foreign religion.
    In this context, I can ask my question. Is the law of grace that Jesus taught to be applied in one’s personal life or can it be applied by a government with a powerful military? Once Christianity took hold in Armenia, the military power was used to force the common people to convert or else face extermination. This seems to be a contradiction to the words of Jesus and the gentle spirit of Christianity as expressed in the following,
    Luke 6:27-29
    27 “But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
    28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
    29 And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also.”
    Do the means justify the end? In this case, the means appear to be clearly a deviation of the fundamental spirit of Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ. Therefore, an outside influence entered the Armenian Christian practice when there was a transition from a small, persecuted sect to a state sponsored organized religion. This outside influence, at least in the case of Armenia, originated from Trtad’s Roman upbringing and St. Gregory’s Greek, Judeo-Christian education. They were both sons of Persian ancestral royalty, whose families were murdered and were reared from childhood in non-Armenian cultures. I believe this contrary spirit to pure Christian belief and practice has brought a curse on the Armenian people that has had a disastrous effect until today and is still continuing.

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  • A mere drop of honey

    A Villager opened a shop in his town
    Offered fine goods that could be bargained down
    After some days from a nearby village
    With staff in his hand and dog of old age
    An uncivil shepherd entered the stage

    “Good day shopkeeper, have you sweet honey?
    Please give me some for a little money.”
    “I have good honey my brother sheep man
    Give me your clay pot or deep roaster pan.”

    “Choose the kind of honey you desire
    I’ll fill your container as you require.”
    With honey-like words and seeming affection
    They did business with peaceful connection

    Shopkeeper poured the best honey of the store
    By dark fate, a stray drop fell on the floor
    Zzzzz, zzzz buzzed a fly that came from on high
    Sat on the drop that the cat did espy

    So Stealthily sly approached the shop cat
    Gave swat with its paw as if for a rat
    Alarmed by the mean cat’s ferocious poach
    The shepherd’s dog set forth fast to approach

    With a huff and puff that blew from its snout
    Dog was ready for a serious bout
    Ire unbound, he jumped on the feline’s back
    Pinned her down, bite her neck til she went slack

    “My dear cat choked to death by the rogue dog,
    Who should die now and become a dead log.”
    Shopkeeper incensed grabbed a hard broom stick
    Swung it with deadly force as if a brick
    The dog fell limp, his death was sure and quick

    “Oh my dear dog, I depend on you much
    You guard my sheep, my home, pastures and such
    May you be damned you bad storekeeper man
    No conscience, shameless, bent on an evil plan.

    So you have bludgeoned my dog to quick death
    Now you will feel the blunt force of my staff.”
    The shepherd man cried loud in a grave voice
    Staff raised to inflict his violent choice

    With deadly aim he delivered blunt pain
    On the grey crown of the storekeeper’s brain
    “Murder, murder a foolish senseless crime
    Help, come quick!”, throughout the town was the chime

    From street to street, house to house all cried
    From one to many the message was plied
    Murder, murder, help there is no excuse
    This murderer must be put to the noose

    One and all came fast from far off places
    From homes, work, with anger on their faces
    Mothers, brothers, uncles, kin and aunties
    They ran through the streets, brave vigilantes

    Running and crying and screaming aloud
    Everyone in town came forth, formed a crowd
    That swelled in numbers, passion and fierce force
    Each stirred others to rage without remorse

    “You stupid bear, hey, you beast-like savage
    Does a civilized man do such ravage?
    Didn’t you come here to purchase some goods
    Yet downed our man like a deer in backwoods.”

    One spoke thus, many struck the sheepherder
    Who was put down as revenge for murder
    He lay on the ground his blood hot and red
    Next to the dog he loved, he joined the dead

    “Hey, fetch the body of this cruel fool
    Back to his village to rot in his stool.”
    The dead man’s family brought home their dear one
    And enraged, called to arms father and son

    Our villager has brutally been slain
    Bludgeoned to death by our neighbors’ insane
    Caught in a trap like an unwitting prey
    Tit for tat we will get revenge today

    The neighboring village was called to arm
    Bent on slaughter each grabbed weapons of harm
    One a gun, another sword or spade
    Skewer, ax, hoe, knife, dead set on crusade

    Mounted on horses or marching on foot
    The rabble set forth to carnage and loot
    That wicked village of devils and fiends
    Without scruples, morals, their hearts unclean

    For a mere purchase they gather a horde
    To dispatch our loved one with staff and sword
    We’ll destroy your village and every man
    Desecrate women’s honor if we can

    Forward, brave Justicers, we’ll right the wrong
    Burn their homes, massacre, attack their throng
    They cursed and blasphemed, cried out loud
    Marched forward to battle angry and proud

    Mercy, compassion, true friendship and all
    Were forsaken in the terrible brawl
    Aggression, attack, fire and bomb blast
    As ruin and flame rose, more fury unlashed

    They were bent on slaughter more and more
    Til the ground was littered with flesh and gore
    The irony of two neighboring towns
    Was each belonged to a different Crown

    One sovereign king when hearing the above
    Made a solemn vow and decree thereof
    “May it be declared in our ancestral land
    From hill to dale, for all that I command

    Our neighboring race fond of perfidy
    Wickedly cruel, prone to iniquity
    When we were serenely reclined asleep
    Armed, they entered our land without a peep

    Murdered and despoiled with extreme cruelty
    Our innocent children without sympathy
    Now our sons so dear, I summon to arms
    From your villages, towns and verdant farms

    Without elan, not really wanting such fight
    I order to action our army of might
    To destroy all those who have harmed us such
    That caused our mothers and daughters grief much

    Bravely battle, destroy our enemy
    God favors us, not our adversary
    Justice merits our retaliation,
    Attack them now without hesitation

    The neighboring king made his plea to arms
    To his army and people with word charms

    “In the presence of my subjects and God
    I condemn our neighbor’s deeds vile and odd
    Immoral, pure evil, treacherous ruse
    Stomping the law, they impugn and abuse
    Our people with false words and arguments
    Expert in lies, pretense and pompous rants
    Destroyed our trust, put our treaty to bust

    Now we are reluctantly pushed to the brink
    Of downward spiral, tit for tat we’ll sink
    For the love of honor, justice supreme
    Cherishing the spilled blond of loved ones esteemed
    For the love of freedom, country and life
    Our love for God, his glory, mercy rife
    Our voices will rise, our will shall prevail
    With our raised swords wreak death, thunder and hail!”

    The horrible din of battle began
    Metal on metal, frightened citizens ran
    Fire burst out home to home in the town
    Blood, destruction, screaming cries all around

    On every side frightened faces, stark death
    The stench of dead bodies choking the breath
    Summer to winter many years of strife
    Farmers paralyzed, the fields without life

    Before the war could be brought to a halt
    Famine and starvation the people stalked
    What was once a prosperous country
    Became deserted, home to misery

    The people that could not leave asked dismayed
    Feeling abandoned, horrified and betrayed
    “What was the cause of this horrible plight
    That destroyed our nation, our honor, our might?”

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  • • The wife can make or break the family
    geenuh douhn guh seeneh, douhn guh kahnteh

    There was and there wasn’t a widow.
    The widow had an only son, who was only five years old when his father died. The widow raised her child by doing menial housework, washing clothes and cleaning homes.
    When the boy became twenty years old, he realized that there was no future for him in his home town. He proposed the following, “Mother, I know how much you have struggled to raise me. Now that I am grown, I do not want to live off your hard work like a lazy man. I think it is necessary to move away from this economically depressed town to a major city where I can find a job and make your life much easier.”
    It was difficult for the mother to leave the home and hearth of her ancestral town, However, she considered the future of her son and was willing to help him become prosperous in his own right. She accepted his proposal and quickly they sold off whatever meager belongings they had to cover the cost of their travel. They sadly said goodbye to their family hearth and set off on their journey.
    They went far and they went little. They finally reached Istanbul.
    It was difficult for the boy to find work in the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul. The widow, however, quickly found work washing clothes and cleaning house by knocking on the doors of wealthy person’s homes. After a few weeks, the two were able to muster up enough money to rent a very small corner room in a cheap hotel.
    While searching for a job as an apprentice in a store, the widow’s son heard a royal, street messenger announce, “Our honored King will build a new palace. Please contact the foreman in charge of hiring at the palace if you are a day laborer, journeyman or qualified for construction work.”
    The boy happily returned home and related to his mother the announcement he heard on the street. He begged permission from his mother to apply for a job as a laborer as he did not have any other qualification.
    The widow hesitatingly agreed to give permission to her insistent son, even though she had misgivings that he should find work as an apprentice rather than a common laborer. She preferred he find work with an artisan or a businessman so he would become trained in skills that would make his future more secure. After several months of hard work the widow and her son were able to save enough to purchase a very humble cottage on the outskirts of Istanbul in a poor neighborhood. They were happy to move away from the cramped room in the cheap hotel. Now they had their own home.
    The widow examined every little aspect of her new home. As the months passed she and her son managed to save a little money that she spent on small house improvements.
    The King of Istanbul had only one daughter. Once the work on his new palace had progressed, the king and his daughter decided to pay a surprise visit to inspect the quality of the work being done.
    During their on-site visit, the king’s daughter espied the widow’s handsome, youthful son. It was love at first sight for her. Without revealing her heartfelt feelings, she addressed her father by pointing out the widow’s son to him.
    “Father, don’t you think it is a shame that such a young man should be toiling so hard to carry such heavy rocks with his bare hands and shoulders. Let’s give him a few gold coins so that he can purchase a mule so that he can move those heavy rocks and building materials.”
    The King fulfilled the wish of his daughter. He called the widow’s son and gave him three gold coins.
    “Take these gold coins and buy a mule so that you can move the heavy stones and materials.”
    The widow’s son expressed his gratitude for the generous kindness of the King.
    When he returned home that night, he told his mother everything that happened that day. The widow did not like that her son was forced to carry heavy rocks and burdens everyday. But, she also considered that the welfare of their future depended on the maintenance of their small cottage.
    “My son, winter is fast approaching. Our cottage’s roof is leaking. Everything we have will be ruined unless we can repair the roof before winter comes. I think it is more prudent to spend the gold coins on a new roof. The welfare of our family depends on this home now. This should be our first priority.”
    The son agreed with his mother. The next day he returned to work and continued to carry the heavy loads on his bare back. The widow spent the coins for a new roof. The small cottage had a new look when the roof was finished.
    Several weeks later, the King and his daughter returned for another inspection of the work on his new palace. As they walked the construction site, the King noticed the widow’s son was still carrying the heavy loads on his bare shoulders. He called him to for a talk.
    “I gave you three gold coins to purchase a mule. Why are you still carrying such heavy loads on your bare shoulders?”
    The widow’s son was taken aback seeing the stern look of the King. He glanced at the King’s daughter who was looking at him with a kind look. He explained to the King his mother’s arrangement. He added that thanks to the three gold coins, the roof of their small cottage was saved from collapsing, and now the new roof conferred a respectable and stately look to their house.
    The King became angry. He ordered the insubordinate widow’s son to stop working and go away.
    The King’s daughter spoke up to her father. “You have made a mistake father. Instead of punishing this youth, you should rather praise his mother for being a woman who turns a house into a real home ( douhn seehnogh geen). She transformed her dilapidated cottage into a stately home the first opportunity she had.”
    The King became very upset by his daughter’s unsolicited defense of the widow’s son. He pronounced the following.
    “From this moment I swear that you will not be my heir. You must marry this common laborer.” The king’s vow was irreversible. His pronounced will was executed immediately. A priest was summoned. He performed the marriage rite for the widow’s son and the king’s daughter. They were sent away from the palace as soon as the ceremony was finished.
    The newly married couple went to the widow’s house. With a good heart, she welcomed her new daughter-in-law and began to lovingly teach her how to work and perform different household chores. She gave her the responsibility for all the household work so that she could increase her own work time in the homes of wealthy clients. With her increased earnings, she set aside some savings so that her son could begin a trading business buying and selling fresh produce.
    The king’s daughter observed the widow’s consistent dedication and wisdom for her family. She lived and maintained herself with dignity. She noted her husband’s affection for his mother and his hard work. She felt inspired to sincerely dedicate herself to her mother-in-law’s instructions to perform house duties. She thought of the widow as the matron who was building their home and hearth to last.
    The widow’s son used his mother’s savings to purchase goods from large wholesale produce dealers. He sold the goods by walking through neighborhoods and selling at bargain prices. He was able to make a small profit daily. With his earnings added to his mother’s, they were able to make small repairs that gradually made their home very comfortable and stylish.
    One day on his way home after business hours, the widow’s son noticed a man on a street corner whose face was serenely happy. The man was hawking, “Wisdom for sale.” He approached the man and gave him his entire day’s profit. In return the serene man gave the widow’s son the following wisdom: “One who follows the path of righteousness never goes wrong in life.” (literally, one who goes the right path never gets lost”)
    When the widow’s son reached home, he told his mother what happened to him that day. The widow, who always tried to enhance the dignity of her family congratulated her son rather than scold him. She encouraged him to following words, “Son, since you paid so dearly for that wisdom, you must always keep it in mind and mold your life so that you can be guided by such wisdom regardless of where you might find yourself.”
    On another occasion, the widow’s son met a dervish to whom he gave his day’s profit to receive the following advice: “Always remain on the right path of truth. The crooked will surely receive their just punishment.”
    When he told his mother about the dervish’s wisdom, she praised him for having the intelligence to seek good advice for living his life. She advised him to always live honorably by remembering his two acquired gems of wisdom so that whenever he may encounter difficult times of temptation, he should follow the path of moral and righteous living as enjoined by the wise words he paid to receive.
    On another occasion, the widow’s son spent his entire day’s earnings to purchase a “mysterious chest” that he brought home. When he opened it in front of his mother, they both observed two black cats in the chest. One cat was a male and one female. The widow did not express disappointment about her son’s purchase. Rather, she respectfully kept the “mysterious chest” and looked after its contents (the cats). She told her son: “There is some providential meaning to this mysterious chest that will be very beneficial to you in the future.”
    One day, when the widow’s son was doing his sales of produce on a street in one of Istanbul’s distant neighborhoods, he noticed a huge tent in the distance. He approached the tent and inquired about it. He found out that the tent belonged to an itinerant Christian merchant who traveled from city to city selling exotic wares. He learned that the merchant was seeking new employees. The widow’s son was fascinated with the thought of becoming a servant employee of the Christian merchant.
    When he returned home, he related to his mother how he was so impressed by the merchant’s offer of possible employment.
    He begged his mother to let him seek employment with the merchant.
    The widow felt intuitively that her son’s desire was auspicious. She thought her son would have a good future working for the traveling merchant. She gave her permission to seek employment with the merchant. She considered her son’s intention good for his future because she always wanted him to accept an apprenticeship with a businessman or artisan craftsman. Her wish would now be fulfilled.
    When the widow’s son approached the merchant for a job, he was accepted to be one of his servants. After some months, the merchant was convinced of the young man’s faithfulness and loyalty. He increased his monthly pay and appointed him his closest personal servant.
    The merchant appreciated very much the service rendered by the young man. One day, the widow’s son asked the merchant if his mother could wash his personal laundry. The merchant immediately accepted. After some time, the merchant noticed the exceptional quality of work with which the widow washed, pressed and perfumed his underclothes and other personal clothing. He felt obliged to pay the widow more than the normal wage for her work. He also increased the salary of her son.
    The widow continued the improvements on her home with repairs, decorations and room additions. The widow, her son and daughter-in-law lived happily as a family.
    After six months, the merchant finished his business sales in Istanbul. He made many purchases of goods in Istanbul to take with him to his next destination for further sales. He prepared his caravan to travel. When all the preparations were ready, he asked his faithful servant to talk privately. He offered to take the widow’s son with him as his trusted servant and journey the four corners of the world until his next return to Istanbul. Such a journey would take about twenty years. The merchant offered the widow’s son the equivalent of ten years wages in advance as an enticement to encourage him to accept. He agreed to pay him the remaining ten year’s wages on their return to Istanbul.
    The widow’s son approached his mother and explained the merchant’s proposal. He begged her to give her approval for his departure. The widow perceived a blessing in the merchant’s offer. He also implored his wife to give her permission for his journey. Both women agreed. The ladies were pleased to receive a large sum of money, which they would use for further repairs and embellishment of their house.
    Before her son set off on the long journey, the widow brought the mysterious chest to her son and said: “Dear son, you purchased two gems of wisdom as well as this mysterious chest. You paid dearly for all three with your hard earned money. I feel confident that God has some plan for you. These costly acquisitions you made will have some important role to play in your long travels.
    After several months of journey, the caravan came to rest on the outskirts of a village. The merchant ordered his servants to pitch the tents. His guards kept watch at the four corners of the tents. The merchant and his loyal servant, the widow’s son, walked toward the village to purchase food for the evening. When the two entered the home of the village leader, they saw his servants holding big sticks. They were searching for mice and rats that they beat to death. The merchant was amazed by the strange scene. He looked at the village chief with a puzzled mien as if to ask “What is this all about?”
    The village chief explained that the villagers were continually on guard day and night to kill the rodents that had completely infested their village. The pests attacked their stored food forcing the villagers to empty their basements and transfer their extra food to safer storage facilities. The merchant and his servant reflected that these villagers had never heard of “the cat.”
    Hearign about the villager’s plight, the widow’s son quickly ran back to the merchant’s camp to fetch his mysterious chest. He returned to the village leader’s home with the chest. He placed it on the floor in the main room. He opened the chest. The two black cats jumped out. The villagers were stunned when they saw the rodents frantically scramble to disappear.
    A miracle happened. The village chief quickly spread the news. The wonderful cats went from home to home in search of mice and rats. The villagers were able now to enjoy a full night’s sleep without fear that the pests would eat their stored food.
    The widow’s son explained to the villagers that there was a male and female cat. After some months the village would be populated with many cats so that the rodent population would be completely controlled.
    The villagers organized a meeting and decided to thank the widow’s son and reward him for his invaluable help. They gifted him a “mysterious pomegranate” that the village elders had inherited from their revered ancestors. They thought it would be an appropriate gift to reciprocate the widow’s son for his gift of the mysterious chest.
    The merchant approved of the widow’s son’s wisdom and foresight. He also rewarded him by giving him the caravan’s lead mule so that the experienced animal could safely carry the valuable mysterious pomegranate.
    The next day the caravan set out again toward its next stop. On the road, the merchant’s caravan encountered another merchant caravan that was going toward Istanbul. The widow’s son asked the other caravan leader if he would accept his mule carrying the mysterious pomegranate and safely direct the mule to his mother in Istanbul. The other merchant agreed.
    Let’s leave the merchant’s caravan to its travels from country to country and return to Istanbul to the widow’s home to learn what has transpired there. The widow’s daughter-in-law was pregnant and after some time gave birth to a son. The friendly merchant, who agreed to take the mule laden with the mysterious pomegranate to Istanbul, arrived and delivered the mule and its load to the widow.
    As it is sometimes the natural instinct of a woman who gives birth to a baby, the widow’s daughter-in-law felt a strong urge to eat a pomegranate. Not having any other pomegranate in her home at that particular moment, the widow thought of giving the new mother the mysterious pomegranate that her son sent her. The widow opened the mysterious pomegranate by banging it on the floor in order to open its rind and then separate its seeds by hand for her daughter-in-law to east. The widow and her bride were astonished to see that the mysterious pomegranate contained precious jewels instead of ordinary seeds.
    They suddenly became immensely wealthy. They sat down together and had a very serious talk about how the time was ripe to invest their wealth. They devised a plan to build a fabulous palace that would attract the attention of the king. This would gradually prepare for the opportunity to one day reestablish justice and truth concerning the king’s treatment of his daughter and her husband.
    The widow invited the most famous and expert architects to her home. She explained her plans to build a fabulous palace that would incorporate the most modern architectural design in order to far exceed in every way the king’s palace. With the help and advice of the architects, the widow and her bride purchased a prominent plot of land on the most chic street of Istanbul which is in the Taksim neighborhood. The two ladies requested the architects to prepare detailed drawings for the new palace. The widow and her bride would choose the best of all the designs.
    After years of submissions, the widow and her bride finally chose the best architectural plan. Soon the work began on the foundation of the superb new palace. The progress was slow on the foundation in order to be sure that it would be secure for the future building.
    Let us leave the architect and the construction people to do their work. The widow and her bride oversaw the work. They lovingly raised the male child. The days turned into months and eventually years. They boy grew to adolescence. We will return to the merchant’s caravan and the widow’s son. The merchant traveled from one great metropolis to another selling his wares and buying new merchandise to sell. After ten years of such profitable selling, the merchant’s caravan finally reached his home town.
    The merchant was married to a beautiful and somewhat young wife who he loved dearly. However, his wife feigned love for the merchant. She was unfaithful.
    When the caravan reached the home town, the merchant’s wife organized a grand welcome home coming for her husband. During the party dinner, the unfaithful wife was introduced to her husband’s most faithful servant, the widow’s son. It was lust at first sight for the unfaithful wife of the merchant.

    She tried to mask her unfaithfulness toward her husband and at the same time appear to be very motherly toward the widow’s son. She requested her husband to let the widow’s son stay in their spacious home and treat him like their own son. They were without children and it would fill a vacuum in their life to treat her husband’s most faithful servant as their own son.
    The merchant, who already had a natural affection for the widow’s son, appreciated very much his wife’s beautiful thought. He accepted enthusiastically his wife’s motherly attitude toward his faithful servant and agreed to her proposal.
    But the merchant’s wife’s mind was bent toward mischief. Her thoughts were lustful and forbode trouble. From the very first day the merchant’s faithful servant moved into the house, the lusty merchant’s wife began to expertly tempt the widow’s son with her seductiveness. Every occasion the merchant’s wife gave an affectionate look, hugged, kissed, and posed in seductive postures, the widow’s son remained unmoved and neutral and maintained a sympathetic innocent demeanor.
    But the merchant’s wife was not a person that was easily deterred from her lusty purpose. Day by day, weeks by week, month by month, she continued her unsavory pursuit of seduction by setting up many situations where she could trap the young man into her net of illicit love. She dressed in very attractive clothes with near exposed body parts in order to victimize the young man by her lusty desires. During the difficult moments of temptation, the widow’s son would remember the two gems of wisdom he purchased: “One who follows the path of righteousness never goes wrong” and “You remain on the right path of truth. The crooked will surely receive their just punishment.” He also meditated on his mother’s advice: ” Always live honorably by remembering his two acquired gems of wisdom so that whenever he may encounter difficult times of temptation, he should follow the path of moral and righteous living as enjoined by the wise words he paid to receive.”
    Remembering his acquired wisdom and his mother’s words, the widow’s son remained resolute to not fall into the evil traps of the unfaithful merchant’s wife. When the lusty woman saw that her husband was preparing his caravan to move on again she became desperate. All of her attempts to lure her husband’s faithful servant to make love to her failed. None of her seductive traps worked to make the young man a victim of her conquest to enjoy him. Without hope to succeed, she decided to take a terrible revenge on the young man.
    One day, when the widow’s son was absent from the merchant’s house and the merchant was expected to arrive at any moment, the evil merchant’s wife purposely tore the clothes she was wearing. She used her fingernails to dishevel her hair, and scratch her face. She began to wail pitifully as her husband entered the house.
    The merchant looked at his wife’s sad condition and tried to comfort her until her screeching anger subsided. She addressed him with her trembling and pleading voice: “Your faithful servant just tried his best to destroy your “family honor,” and because I resisted, he beat me up and left me in this condition. She stropped talking and began to tremble and cry.
    The enraged merchant decided on the spot to take revenge on his servant. However, the merchant’s wife suggested that her husband not give the faithful servant a chance to defend his actions. She proposed that he punish the servant in a secretive way so that no one else knew about his attempt to defile her honor. The merchant agreed with his wife to keep the event a secret. He devised a plan for revenge.
    He went to a far off acquaintance of his who was a baker with a big oven. He paid him a big amount of money and said: “In a short while, if a person comes to see you and says “what happened to the merchant’s order.” Without any questions asked or discussion throw that person into your oven and close the door.”
    When the merchant returned home, he reassured his wife that his servant would soon be dead. In other words, his friend the baker who lived some distance from their house would throw the man into his oven and burn him to a crisp. His evil wife noted the address and name of the baker. She wanted to be sure to verify that the widow’s son would indeed be killed otherwise she would not feel safe if he survived.
    When the widow’s son returned to the merchant’s house, his employer asked him to step outside and spoke to him: “Please go to
    the baker’s shop at such and such address and ask him the following question with these exact words: “What happened to the merchant’s order.” Please ask him with these exact words and not one word more. The faithful servant left for the baker’s shop and the merchant entered the house to reassure his wife that his faithful servant would be roasted in fifteen minutes in the baker’s oven.
    On the road between the merchant’s house and the baker’s shop there was a church. As the widow’s son came close to the church, an instinctual thought entered his mind. He reflected how, since he and his mother left their ancestral village, he had not entered a church. He felt a tremor of shame that he had been so long away from prayer and church. In a seemingly mysterious and magnetic way he entered the church. He began to listen to the priest’s chants of ancient prayers. He felt some encouragement for his lonely soul. He began to say a prayer for the protection of his distant mother and wife. In the customary way, he remained until the priest finished the hourly prayer out of respect.
    Let us leave the widow’s son to his prayers and return to the merchant’s house. The merchant’s wife waits a quarter of an hour which extends to a half hour and then she became very impatient to receive the good news that the faithful servant was toast. She felt insecure without the news for fear her ruse would be exposed. Impatient, she rushed out of the house and ran toward the baker’s shop. She enters the shop out of breath and comes up to the baker who has his baker’s shovel in his hand. She asks him a question with her rapid and breathless voice: “What happened to the merchant’s order?”
    The baker, without asking any questions grabbed the woman and forcibly threw her into the oven with the help of his baker’s shovel. She landed on the burning hot coals and the baker slammed the oven door shut so that she had no hope of escape.
    After finishing his prayers and hearing the hourly prayers of the priest to completion, the widow’s son left the church feeling somewhat guilty that he stayed so long and thus would be late arriving at the baker’s shop. But, he felt certain that his kindhearted boss would understand the reason for his lateness. He ran toward the baker’s shop. On arriving and seeing the baker, he asked: “What happened to the merchant’s order?” The baker replied: “Go and tell the merchant that his order wasn’t carried out to the last detail without any trouble.”
    When the boy returned home, he explained to his boss what the baker said. Without saying a word, the merchant ran out of the house toward the baker’s shop. He murmured to himself: “There is a mystery that needs to be unraveled in this ordeal.”
    When he arrived, he asked the baker why his order was not executed. The baker replied that he perfectly performed the task he was commissioned to do by the merchant. He explained the same thing to the second messenger (the widow’s son) that the merchant sent him. The merchant was confused by the baker’s explanation and said, “How is that?”
    The baker explained: “You instructed me that if a person present himself or herself and says, “What happened to the merchant’s order?”, I was to throw that person into the oven with no questions asked. Is it not like that?”
    “Yes,” said the merchant, “but……”
    (Paiytz-maiytz chee gah) “There is no but or mutt,” interrupted the baker. “A woman came running to my bakery and asked the question with the same exact words “What happened to the merchant’s order?” I subdued her and threw her into the oven as you ordered me to do. No questions asked.”
    The merchant understood now what happened. He returned home and asked his faithful servant to explain in detail the nature of the relationship between himself and the merchant’s wife. At first, the servant was visibly uncomfortable about talking on such a sensitive subject. He was worried that if the merchant found out the truth he might become passionately angry with his wife. The faithful servant would become the catalyst for fomenting an argument between husband and wife. But the merchant proceeded to reveal that his wife had confided in him that the faithful servant had molested her and attempted to defile her sexually. The merchant had secretly arranged with the baker to kill the faithful servant by throwing him into the oven. But by a quirk of fate, his wife ended up in the oven instead of the widow’s son. After hearing about the treachery of the merchant’s wife, the faithful servant began to explain in detail all the temptations and sexual exhortations that the merchant’s wife subjected him to in order to distract him from the path of righteousness and defile his employer’s “family honor.” (The word for “family honor” in Armenian is uhndahnehgan bahdeev. Often the Turkish word for the same meaning is used. It is nahmouss.)
    The widow’s son related how he remembered the two gems of wisdom he purchased in Istanbul from street vendors as well as his own mother’s advice to always remember and benefit from the gems of wisdom for his own protection in life. Because of this, he was able to withstand the temptations and traps of passions tendered by the merchant’s wife.
    After hearing all the explanations, said to the widow’s son: “My dear son, the crooked receive their just reward (dzouruh eer baddeejuh kuhdhav). You did not stray from the path of righteousness. Therefore, I will reward you handsomely. From this day on, you are no longer my servant. You are my business partner and my adopted child. After my death, you will become my only heir.”
    It was time for the caravan to depart. The merchant ordered the caravan to roll out of his hometown.
    Let us leave the caravan to proceed on its slow journey from country to country until it will eventually reach Istanbul. Let us turn our attention again to the widow and her royal daughter-in-law. They advanced significantly the building of their new palace with tremendous effort. The widow’s grandson attained adolescence. The king began to notice with interest the construction of the matchless palace coming up near his royal palace.
    When the construction of the new palace was completed, the widow’s grandson reached the age of a young man. The king sent his men to gather information about the owners of the new palace. They reported that three persons lived in the new palace: a widow, her daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law’s only son who was twenty years old. The king was informed that the widow’s son who was the daughter-in-law’s husband was a servant of a very wealthy businessman who traveled from country to country with his caravan selling wares. However, due to the servant’s faithfulness to the traveling merchant, he had become his intimate friend and partner. The caravan was slated to return to Istanbul very shortly.
    The king sent his representatives to invite the twenty year old young man to join his hunting group for a weekend excursion. The youth asked the advice of his grandmother and mother before accepting the invitation. At the same time, the merchant’s caravan finally arrived in Istanbul. The twenty year old youth greeted his father and immediately brought him to the new palace. When the widow’s son set eyes on the palace, he praised the ingenuity of his mother and wife for building such a magnificent building. The merchant, as was his habit, stayed in his stately tent.
    After some days, the widow called her son and his wife and spoke to them the following words: “The time has come that they reveal their identities to the king. She added: “During an unfortunate moment of anger, the king thought he was going to punish his insubordinate daughter. But, in reality, it was he who was punished by not seeing his only daughter for twenty years. I think his period of punishment should come to an end. We should take advantage of his newly found hunting friend, our grandson, and ask the youth invite the king to dinner. He will discover anew his long lost daughter and hopefully become reconciled.
    The widow’s son and his wife appreciated immensely the wisdom of the widow. Their son invited the king to dine in the newly constructed palace with his family. They had waited for some time to be invited to the superb palace in order to become acquainted with his new neighbors. He willingly accepted the invitation. The widow’s son also invited his benefactor and business partner, the merchant, who would be extremely honored to share the dinner invitation with the king.
    The traditional custom when receiving honored guests like the rich merchant and especially the king, was to separate by a partition the women from the men. The partition was a heavy curtain behind which the ladies directed the servants in every detail of serving the dinner.
    The king, the merchant, and the twenty year old son of the host along with his father who traveled with the merchant for twenty years sat at the table. The king was not able to recognize who his host was because he only had a cursory glimpse twenty years before of the widow’s son who worked as a day laborer. The widow’s son was now a very prominent man. The king couldn’t even imagine that he had met the widow’s son twenty years before.
    The four enjoyed a very fun-filled and tasty meal together. When they were ready to get up from the dinner table, the curtain that separated the women from the men was opened so that the widow and her daughter-in-law entered the company of the four men.
    The king’s daughter walked up to her father. The king and the merchant were shocked out of their wits by the following words that she addressed to her father. “Father, I am your only daughter that you made a vow to reject and denied any inheritance. At the time you arranged on the spot that I marry the widow’s son who was a common day laborer. I must confide in you that I had already fallen in love with him at first sight and secretly wanted to marry him.
    She pointed to her mother-in-law and her husband. This is the widow who chose to repair and decorate her modest house in order to have a justified pride in home ownership by repairing her broken, leaky roof with the three gold coins you gave to her son. You gave him the three coins on my request because he was carrying very heavy stones on his bare back all day long just to earn an honest living. You ordered him to purchase a mule to lighten the load on his back. But his mother asked him to let her use the money to repair the roof. He agreed because of his respect and love for his mother and exposed himself to your ire for not following your order. He is my heart’s darling. He has evolved by the grace of his “household building” mother’s astute advice, guidance and good wishes to become the work partner and eventual heir of this very wealthy merchant.
    Do you remember when I made the observation about the hard working and faithful demeanor of the young day laborer who you insisted on laying off because he did not purchase a mule with your three gold coins. I cautioned you that you should also consider his obligation to follow his mother’s advice because she is a “home and hearth builder.” I feel blessed that I was able to find shelter under the tutelage of such a “home building mother” so much so that I have also become a “home building mother.”
    The merchant began to speak. He related the history of his unfaithful wife and how she was in reality a “Family destroyer.” He concluded: “A wife can build a family and a wife can break a family.” (A wife can make or break the family)
    The king asked his “son-in-law” to sincerely suggest to his mother and his business partner, the merchant whose wife betrayed his confidence, to agree to get married. The king’s suggestion was actually a royal order to the home building widow and the merchant. They accepted the proposal. The king summoned a Christian priest who performed the marriage of the widow to the merchant.
    The king was very happy to have found his long lost and presumed dead daughter. He was already an old man. He wanted to correct the wrong he committed in banning his daughter and depriving her of her rightful heritage. He decided to step down from his throne and declare his daughter the queen of the kingdom. He designated his son-in-law as the guardian of the throne and his twenty year old grandson the heir to the throne.
    They all achieved their heart’s desires. May those who have read this tale also reach their heart’s desire.

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  • Looking at something and becoming fond
    Will cause one to develop a strong bond
    Such sustained contemplation becomes lust
    Which if frustrated becomes anger and bust

    Anger will be the cause of delusion
    Then memory becomes baffled confusion
    Thus intelligence is completely lost
    Victim of life’s waves we’re hopelessly tossed

    Entrapment in the material world begins by not seeing things properly.
    When we look at an object without acknowledging to whom it may belong, we begin to imagine that we can control and enjoy it. Such thoughts are the root of material desires and subsequent troubles..

    We begin the subtle process of thinking, feeling and willing about the object. We first think about the qualities of the object. Next, we feel how good it would be to own and enjoy the object. Then, we make a decision of will that we must have the object to be happy. The psychological processes of thinking, feeling, and willing are the inspiration for performing action (or work). Becoming convinced that our desires need to be fulfilled is the subtle form of action.

    First, we hear about or observe an object. We acquire knowledge of the object. We, as the knower, undergo the process of thinking, feeling, and willing. Thus there is the knower, the object of knowledge and the knowledge of the object. These are called the impetus to action.

    As our contemplation of the object gets more intense, we evolve from desire to attachment and then lust or the obsessive desire to control and enjoy an object. Once there is strong attachment or excessive desire and attachment (lust), if we are in any way hindered or frustrated in our attempt to control and enjoy the object, we become angry. Anger comes right after frustration.

    Anger after frustration has definite symptoms such as, heavy breathing, tendency to use harsh language, possibility of violence, swelling of the chest and tensing of the muscles and facial expressions such as sharp eye contact, raising of the eyebrows or furrowing of the forehead, rashness of thought, increased heartbeat, and quick conclusions of retaliation, etc.

    From anger delusion develops.The state of delusion occurs when one believes to be true or real something that is false or unreal. The conviction: “I am the controller and I am the enjoyer” is the basis of the delusion. This requires explanation as it is difficult for most people to accept that such a thought is actually delusional.

    The basic concept of property and proprietorship determines the organization of society from the life of an individual to the entire population. For example, in modern day countries there are differences of social organization founded on a basic concept of proprietorship. In a capitalist country, the assumption is that the individual is the proprietor and the majority of laws protect personal property. In a socialist country, the state is the most prominent proprietor and most of the laws protect state ownership. In a monarchy, the king and nobles are the main proprietors. In a communist state, ideally the commune or the working class people as a collective is the proprietor. In a dictatorship, the dictator, his family and friends such as his military, industrial, and banking cronies are the proprietors. Every one of these concepts of property ownership and the social institutions that protect such concepts are flawed.

    If I make a mistake at the beginning of solving a mathematical problem, I will most probably get the whole problem wrong. A mistake in the beginning will give me a wrong result in the end. Similarly, if the most fundamental concept on which an entire society is built (the concept of proprietorship) is wrong, then how can we expect the people in that society to be happy and eventually achieve the goal of human life?

    Today, we live in the United States of America. Did this country exist five hundred years ago? The answer is no. Will this country exist five hundred years from now. The answer is we do not know! We can conclude that the existence of this great country or any country for that matter is temporary. The same can be said about anything we believe that we own. At most, we temporarily own something. Even during the period that we temporarily own something, we do not really own it. We can lose a possession at any time due to a variety of causes. If all the above mentioned concepts of proprietorship are wrong, then what is the right concept of proprietorship?

    Before we answer the question, first let us consider the following. If all the above concepts of proprietorship are wrong, then we must be in a state of delusion if we believe we are the proprietor. I might accept rather easily that I am not the proprietor of the state of Colorado. But, I am hard pressed to accept I am not the proprietor of my body or my bank account. The truth is that I am not really the proprietor of my own body because so many functions of the body are taking place that are completely out of my control. I may reside within the body, but it is functioning in mysterious ways that are beyond my comprehension and conscious determination. I don’t control my heartbeat, the blinking of my eyes, my entire digestive system, and so many other vital processes of the body. I don’t control the aging process and ultimately, I don’t control birth, disease and death. Then how can I pretend that I am the owner of the body when I do not really control its vital functions.

    Through honest self inspection one can understand that any claim to proprietorship is very temporary and always dependent on some superior authority such as the state or anyone with overpowering force, natural laws, and ultimately God. The person who controls nature and its insurmountable laws is the real proprietor of everything by virtue of his overpowering force. We see this force in hurricanes, tidal waves, earthquakes and any massive display of natural force. The strongest army in the world, the US Armed forces with all its sophisticated weapons could not stop hurricane Katrina from destroying most of a modern American City, New Orleans. Therefore, no one and no nation can claim to be proprietor except the Supreme controller of everything or God Himself.

    At the most, our claims to proprietorship are temporary and always dependent on superior authority and ultimately God. If I believe that I am the absolute owner (or enjoyer) and controller, then I am in a state of delusion.

    From such a state of delusion, our memory becomes confused. We forget who we are, where we are, what is our purpose in life, what are our limits, what are our duties and responsibilities.

    From this confused memory, we lose our intelligence or our power to discriminate right from wrong. Then we fall down into a whirlpool of frenzied activity that is ultimately destructive to ourselves and others.

    Unless we learn to see things correctly as owned and controlled by God, we become prone to developing material desires and acting in selfish and self destructive ways. God has made an arrangement by which He has set aside our minimum needs. However, when we take more than what we need, we become victims of our own greed by which others may be denied their minimum needs. We then become subject to the laws of material nature or correction for our greed.

    The allurement of the material world is the desire for sense gratification. Such gratification is necessarily selfish, self centered and often passionate. The progression down the path of destructive behavior begins by seeing an object and meditating on it, developing attachment for it. From attachment, lust arises. If the lust is frustrated, there is anger. From anger comes delusion. From delusion comes bewilderment of memory. Then loss of intelligence and finally falling down into irresponsible behavior. This progression can happen very quickly.. It can occur in a few seconds or develop over an extended period of time.

    There are many examples that can be given. I want to cite one that is particularly troubling. The following article was written

    Friday, 14 December 2007.

    “Thought she was not a virgin
    Egyptian kills his bride on their wedding night

    CAIRO (Moustafa Suleiman, AlArabiya.net)

    Egyptian police arrested laborer Ibrahim Ali after he killed his wife on their wedding night. Failing to deflower her, Ali thought his bride was not a virgin and killed her, assuming she had an illicit relationship.

    Residents of Al-Quba village in the Delta governorate of Sharqia said they heard the screams of Hoda Salem, 23, the new bride. When they rushed to her rescue, they found her lying on the floor with critical stab wounds.

    The bride told them her husband had stabbed her and then run away. The neighbors called the police, and she was transferred to the hospital, where she died.

    Police later arrested the groom, who confessed to the crime. He said that after he failed to break her hymen, he thought she was not a virgin.

    This is the second crime of its kind within the month. The first incident took place in Giza governorate when a peasant killed his bride for the same reason.

    In a previous case, a man killed his wife, only to have the coroner’s report show that she was still a virgin. He is now in jail.

    Gynecologist Naglaa Ahmed told AlArabiya.net that she deals with many cases in which the husband cannot break the wife’s hymen on the first night. This, she explained, is due to the physical and psychological stress both go through leading up to the wedding.

    Ahmed added that the condition of the hymen could be another reason. In some cases, minor surgery is needed to break the hymen due to its thickness or inelasticity. In rare cases, pregnancy can occur while the hymen is still unbroken, she added.

    Virginity is one of the most important conditions for marriage for most Egyptians and is seen as a matter of personal and family honor.”

    How can a man murder his newly wedded wife on their wedding night? It seems incomprehensible. Yet, if we understand the progression from incorrect contemplation to loss of intelligence, we can comprehend in a rational way the process by which intelligence can be quickly lost and one resorts to irrational behavior out of frustration and anger.

    The purpose of spiritual education is to understand our eternal relation with God. At the same time, we must learn the pitfalls of material life in this world. Spiritual knowledge teaches us to stop the process of incorrect observation that leads to attachment, lust, anger, delusion, confusion of memory and loss of intelligence before we become victimized by such a slippery slope toward irresponsible behavior.

    Laborer Ibrahim Ali who, on the spur of the moment had a doubt about the virginity of his new wife and murdered her, could have waited a day or two, made an appointment with a doctor and had her examined to see if his hunch was right or wrong. Better yet, he could have asked her before their marriage to submit herself to a test of virginity. He could have acted with his intelligence in control. However, he lost control of himself and murdered her as an act of unjustified rage.

    Another interesting example to study is that of Lord Jesus and the prostitute that was going to be stoned to death.

    Jhn 8:1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.

    Jhn 8:2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.

    Jhn 8:3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,

    Jhn 8:4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.

    Jhn 8:5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?

    Jhn 8:6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with [his] finger wrote on the ground, [as though he heard them not].

    Jhn 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

    Jhn 8:8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

    Jhn 8:9 And they which heard [it], being convicted by [their own] conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, [even] unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

    Jhn 8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

    Jhn 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

    Jhn 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

    Jesus rightfully says that one must first be free of sin themselves before they attempt to judge another person of sinful behavior.

    A recent event illustrates this same point.

    “A federal appeals court judge on Friday stepped down from a high-profile obscenity trial in Los Angeles, three days after acknowledging that he had posted sexually explicit material on a publicly accessible personal website.

    “In light of the public controversy surrounding my involvement in this case, I have concluded that there is a manifest necessity to declare a mistrial,” wrote Alex Kozinski, chief judge for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “I will recuse myself from further participation in the case and will ask the chief judge of the district court to reassign it to another judge.”

    * Trial will see hours of hard-core fetish pornography

    * Alex Kozinski: A respected, colorful, sometimes controversial jurist
    * Kozinski in 2003: On Jurist’s Case Over His Ties to a Killer

    On Wednesday, Kozinski suspended the trial of Hollywood filmmaker Ira Isaacs to allow the prosecutor to explore what he saw as “a potential conflict of interest concerning the court having a . . . sexually explicit website with similar material to what is on trial here.”

    The words of Jesus were so powerful that they were able to stop the scribes and Pharisees from stoning to death the prostitute. Also the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus by forcing him to say something against the ancient Jewish law. Jesus, however, was able to make such a cogent statement that his detractors became introspective about their own qualification to exact justice. This is an example of spiritual education which makes a person introspective about controlling their passions and building up their discriminative powers (intelligence) to stop themselves from falling victim of the lower forces of material nature: improper observation, attachment, lust, anger, delusion, confusion of memory and loss of intelligence.

    Similarly, the case of Judge Kozinski is example of a person who sits in judgment of the “sins” or illegal activities of another person while the Judge has the same weakness or “sinful tendency” as the man being judged. The Judge did not voluntarily recuse himself when he was appointed to the case. He was ratted out by the defendant’s attorney who found out that the Judge had posted sexually explicit material on his own web page. Then it became apparent that Judge Kozinski was not qualified to sit in judgment in such a case.

    The important issue is whether a person has control of their senses and mind. There are four activities that render mind and sense control almost impossible. They are: gambling and philosophical speculation, meat eating, intoxication and illicit sex. These four material activities undermine truthfulness (gambling and speculation), austerity and humility (meat eating), mercifulness (intoxication) and cleanliness (illicit sex). These four principles are the universal principals of spirituality. Undermining these principles by the four material activities of gambling, meat eating, intoxication and illicit sex, a person becomes very prone to being a victim of the slippery slope of imperfect observation to loss of intelligence and destructive behavior. When a person can regulate material activities based on the universal spiritual principles, they become capable of self control. The intelligence exercises its discriminative powers and can project into the future to see the consequences of rash behavior. It acts to avoid the senseless dive into the abyss self destructive behavior and causing harm to others.

    There is an example of a man who is dreaming while asleep. He cries, “Tiger, tiger…It is eating me!” Another person who is awake witnesses the sleeping man’s emotional cries. He smiles and wonders “Where is the tiger?” Yet, the dreaming man is crying and moaning, “Tiger, tiger, tiger.” One does not have to be in a state of dreaming to be in illusion. An illusion is accepting something for what it is not due to either imperfect hearing or seeing. If we see water in the desert or mistake a rope for a snake, we may accept that the reflection of the sun on the hot sand is actually water when it is not or the rope is actually a snake when it is not. These are examples of illusions. When we believe that the illusions are really factual, we are in a state of delusion.

    Sometimes politicians claim, “This is my land. This is my country.” Another group of politicians claim the same land and say, “This is my land, my country.” The two sides begin to fight and kill each other. Both sides are in a state of delusion. The land does not belong to either side. It belongs to God. But they are claiming my land, my country. But how long will they live to enjoy their land and country? It is an illusion to accept God’s property as one’s own property.

    Without understanding our real position, we remain perplexed in the midst of the problems of this world which are all caused by false claims. The root cause of the illusion is the material conception of “I” and “Mine” or the false idea that I am the controller and enjoyer,

    Once a king was about to die. He ordered that a coffin be made with two holes. When asked why he said, “I am a most powerful king with untold wealth. But when I die, I want the people to see my hands protruding from the coffin. I want them to see that I left this world empty handed even though I was so wealthy and powerful.” “Dust thou art and dust thou shalt become,” is the Biblical saying. It rings true. Any claim to proprietorship (even of our own body) is a false claim. The only true proprietor is God. If we learn to use everything in the service of God, then we can escape from the chains of illusion and self destructive behavior. Most disputes and wars in this world are based on territorial claims. Individually we attempt to be the controller and enjoyer. This attempt is spread to an entire society or nation. Then one nation desires to control and enjoy another nation. All wars are fought for sense gratification. One nation wants to enjoy their senses in one way and another nation in another way and they fight for domination for their own brand of sense gratification. It is all false and illusory.

    Another interesting example is a story about Hazrat Ali, the famous Muslim prophet who is the saint of the Shia Muslims. Hazrat Ali was fighting in a “holy war.” He knocked down an opposing soldier and was about to kill him with his sword. The soldier spit in Hazrat Ali’s face. The saint put down his sword. The soldier was shocked. He said, “Why don’t you kill me?” Hazrat Ali said, “Before you spit in my face I was going to kill you on behalf of Allah as a righteous act. But when you spit in my face, I became angry at you. I cannot kill you in a state of personal anger based on my own emotional state. Therefore, I have put down my sword.” The soldier was so impressed by the motives of Hazrat Ali that he converted to Islam and became a sincere follower. There is a difference between acting on one’s own personal motives and acting as a servant of God without any personal attachment or self interest. One is saved from the entanglement of reactive work by acting only on the order of God without any personal motive. This story illustrates how important the motive of the action is.

    During a war, a soldier kills an enemy fighter according to the rules of engagement. He is not considered a murderer although he kills. But, after the war, if the same man kills someone of his own accord, he will be prosecuted as a criminal. By acting under the orders of superior authority and following the rules of engagement, one is not responsible for the acts. Acting on one’s own selfish desires, one becomes responsible.

    There is another example of delusional acts under the influence of extreme anger.

    By RYAN LENZ, Associated Press Writer Wed Jun 25, 7:07 PM ET

    HENDERSON, Ky. - ” A 25-year-old press operator shot and killed five co-workers and himself at a plastics plant in rural western Kentucky just hours after arguing with his supervisor about not wearing safety goggles and using his cell phone while on the assembly line, police said Wednesday.

    Authorities said Wesley N. Higdon of Henderson was so riled by the argument with his supervisor that he called his girlfriend and told her that he wanted to kill his boss. The girlfriend didn’t warn anyone, police said, and just two hours later, Higdon argued with another co-worker then shot and killed his supervisor as they walked outside. Then, he returned and shot at co-workers in a break room and on the plant floor.

    A man who called 911 frantically described the violent scene to a dispatcher, tallying up the number of dead around him.

    “There’s more than two people dead. There’s like one, two, three, four, five people dead,” the man said. “The supervisor is dead, too.”

    Authorities said Higdon was known to keep a .45-caliber pistol in his car, which is not illegal in Kentucky.

    The first shooting took place as the supervisor was escorting him from the building. Other co-workers were shot in the break room and on the plant floor. One worker was injured and was being treated in the critical care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center in Evansville, Ind.

    “He just walked in, looked like he meant business and started shooting at everybody,” Henderson Police Sgt. John Nevels said at a news conference.”

    The need for real education is absolutely necessary to help people control their senses and mind and refrain from rash, passionate acts of senseless violence.The first symptom of an educated and civilized person is that they always consider carefully the outcome and collateral effects of an act before they act.One cannot do this unless they accept that there is a higher authority than oneself. Respect and love for the higher authority, who is ultimately God, is the beginning of self control and self discipline.

    Unless one sincerely understands the spiritual truth of our eternal relationship with God, we can never become free from the material influence which leads us on like a blind man into a ditch of confused, desperate acts. In truth, material sense enjoyment pales in comparison to the higher taste of spiritual enjoyment in the association of God. Tasting such spiritual pleasure in the presence of God is the beginning of freedom from material conditioning.

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  • Fortune visits only once. Take advantage of an opportunity. ( paghkhtuh mehg ahnkam gaiytzehleh)

    Before my mother immigrated to the United States, she had heard that America was such a rich country that money was on the ground and could be picked up at will. These were tales in the old country about the opulence of America. When she arrived on Ellis Island and right after she disembarked from the boat and was walking toward the immigration booths, she noticed a crisp American ten dollar bill on the ground. She thought, “Everything I have heard about this marvelous country is true. Money is on the ground everywhere just begging to be picked up and spent. But I don’t think I should bend down and pick up this money as it would be disrespectful for me. I have just got off the boat and haven’t even entered the country officially. I may appear to be a greedy money grabber if I bend down and take the money. I’ll wait until I am in the country and landed. Then, like any other American, I’ll pick up the money off the ground.”

    Suffice it to say, my mother never found another ten dollar bill on the ground in America the rest of her life. She had to work hard to earn an honest living. She also had to adjust to life and culture in America.

    She was invited by new American acquaintances for dinner in their home. It was the first time an American family invited her
    for “hyiourahsehroutioun”(this word has a special meaning in Armenian - it means literally “loving your guest” or in a general sense “respect and appreciation for your guest.”)

    The custom in Armenia was that when a person arrived as a guest at someone’s home, the host would ask the guest to sit at the dinner table to dine. The guest would politely say, “Oh, I am not hungry, thank you.” The host would ask a second time and eventually a third time. The guest would accept on the third invitation. This was a protocol of respect and fun. However, when the American family asked my mother if she would dine, she customarily declined respectfully saying she was not hungry. The host family did not insist and asked her permission to dine while she waited. My mother was expecting them to ask her a second and third time. But, they didn’t and my mother just sat there as they ate. She thought, “These Americans are unlike my people. They only ask one time and then sit down to eat while the guest starves.”

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  • Better the blind of eye than the blind of heart
    For knowing one’s limits is wisdom’s start
    The first can learn the value of truth
    The second are ignorant right from birth

    The blind of heart chose not to see
    The value of spirituality
    Their pride in self has no fixed boundary
    They see not God nor pray for His mercy

    You can wake up a man asleep
    But pretenders keep eyes closed to count sheep
    Thus ignorance comes from an act of will
    That blinds the heart to God’s infinite skill

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  • Speak with respect the candid truth
    Honor your elders in your youth
    When you become old and grey
    You will be respected everyday

    Think and act with gentle humility
    Value words and acts of civility
    Let others know you as responsible
    Steady in virtue and reliable

    Those who are tolerant remain unmoved
    Serene in mind when they are reproved
    If insulted or purposely harassed
    They resist the flames of anger with class

    Let your actions teach the dignified life
    Good behavior, noble deeds all free of strife
    Patience, tolerance are lessons to learn
    Practiced daily, respect we will earn

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  • A horse chestnut with its rind full of prickly spines
    Fell to the ground waiting for the hedgehog to dine
    Insects, worms, snakes, are the hedgehog’s treats
    But all through the night it found few tasty sweets
    Hungry still it came upon the horse chestnut
    From which it took a good nibble for his gut
    “What pricks my snout, why so unkind
    These sharp bristles of the chestnut’s rind
    These small spines cause untold pain so much
    How much more painful must mine be to touch?”

    One can never understand misery others feel
    who has not himself suffered a great deal

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  • Blind, deaf man walking across a highway
    Sees not danger nor hears the passersby
    So the fool who thinks himself wise in all
    Ignoring good advice will cause his fall

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  • “Guardians of the heavens, look at my flying so high”
    Said the arrow as it whizzed through the blue sky
    “I am now a denizen of your heavenly spheres”
    A bird said, “That is true, but you are not among your peers”
    “Forget not you have risen by others’ strength
    And on your own, you will fall down the full length”

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  • A mouse caught hold of a camel’s lead rope
    Walked ahead with aspirations and hope
    Although so small he thought himself so great
    Driving the beast and directing its gait

    Camel went along, let the mouse control
    Leading it onward a whimsical stroll
    “Enjoy yourself now, think yourself hero
    “Soon I’ll show you that you are a zero”

    Then they came to the bank of a river
    The mouse began to shake and shiver
    “Step forward you twerp, you are my guide
    This is not the time to hide your false pride”

    Mouse dared not step in the water and drown
    Appear to be a contemptible clown
    “I am afraid of the deep blue depth
    Drowning in it will show I am inept”

    The camel walked into the depth profound
    While the mouse looked on from the safe ground
    “The water is up to my knee level
    Do not wait, don’t frown, join me and revel.”

    “Your knee is many times over my head
    If I enter the water I’ll be dead.”

    “Maybe you shouldn’t dare lead a camel
    Think yourself master of a big mammal.”

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  • A girl was passing by a Muslim in deep prayer
    He glanced upon her with a menacing stare
    For no one should walk past one who prays
    It will disturb their moment of God praise

    Later when the girl returned the man chastened
    “You have no respect , your end you have hastened!”
    “What did I do,” said the girl astonished
    “Disturbed my prayer,” the Muslim admonished

    “Pray excuse me, I did not mean to disturb
    Nor in any way your prayer perturb
    What do you mean by prayer anyway
    Please, dear sir, instruct me the truth today.”

    “Prayer is thinking of God and nothing else!”

    “The thought of my lover was my only impulse
    I did not see you for my mindset
    But if you were in prayer how could I cause your upset!”

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  • There was a man who traveled in a caravan
    He carried gold coins to sell in Yerevan
    He heard there were robbers in the hills of Tabriz
    Sought to entrust his coins to keep his mind at ease

    He noticed a man sitting beside a tent
    Who looked trustworthy with no bad intent
    He left the caravan and sought safeguard
    With the tent man of kind regard

    “Will you keep safe my coins, be my savior
    Guard them from rogue thieves of bad behavior?”
    Yes was the reply from the kind man
    So the merchant returned to the caravan

    But lo and behold robbers fleeced his friends
    Took all their valuables and odds and ends
    He thanked God his purse was with an honest man
    And ran back to get his money as was his plan

    He returned to the tent with good intent
    But saw the group of robbers malevolent
    The kind man seemed to be so sweet
    Now the merchant saw he was only a cheat

    He gave his money to the chief thief
    Now he was victim of colossal deceit
    Due to fright he began to back away
    When the chief yelled “stand at bay!”

    The chief said,”Why did you come here now?”

    “I thought you were honest, I must avow
    I gave you my money trusting you somehow
    I beg to get it back if you may allow”

    The chief of the robbers said with candor
    “Was your purse stolen, say with out slander.”

    “No sir, I did not say you are a thief
    But I am scared by the company you keep

    “Your trust in me is not in vain
    I never intended to cause you pain
    As there is one God so man’s word should be
    Always accountable and trustworthy”

    The chief of the thieves gave back the money
    The merchant felt he was in the land of milk and honey
    The robbers were impressed with their chief’s honor
    They vowed from that day to no longer steal from another

    Live with honor, gain the trust of others
    You will live long in the company of brothers

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