Wisdom from the son of Armenia.
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- Alert (for danger)
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- Armenian Alphabet
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- Armenian qualities and character traits
- Armenian Sayings
- Bride and her wisdom
- Cause and Effect
- Character Flaws (Fatal Flaws)
- Choose a wife
- Common Sense
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- Convert (Religious)
- critics (criticism)
- Curse on Armenian People
- divided we fall
- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
- Evil Eye
- Familarity (breeds contempt)
- Follow the crowd
- Foolishness and Blind following
- Forgiveness (Paying For)
- Fortune (see Misfortune)
- Fox (and and his loyal followers)
- Good deeds
- Good wishes
- Gurdjieff sayings
- habit and tendenacy
- Hearing (Learning)
- Honesty(Honor one's promise)
- Hovhaness Toumanian
- Human nature
- Initiative (lack of)
- Insulting phrases
- Learning (See Hearing)
- living within one's means
- Meat (eating)
- Non Violence
- Old age
- One in a thousand
- Oneness (real and false)
- Peer pressure
- Science and Religion
- Self control
- Self realization
- Service to God
- Shameless people
- Stingy (see Miser)
- Temporary pleasures
- Think for yourself
- Turkish Massacre of Armenians
- Two faced people
- Ungrateful people
- United we stand
- Useless Labor
- Vetch Hazaria – Six thousand secrets of wisdom
- The mystic perfections one may attain by reading parts of the Vetz Hazaria
- Six thousand secrets of wisdom – Vetz Hazaria
- Vetz Hazaria – Questions and answers
- Control the following three things to live happy and peaceful; sensuality, material desire and anger.
- Milk nurtures a child to become healthy,strong, grow and develop good intelligence. But if you give milk to a new born snake, it will turn it into a dangerous and poisonous creature.
- When a rascal is given good instruction, he becomes angry.
- Who fears to suffer, suffers from fear
- The greatness of a person is estimated by his ability to tolerate provoking situations
- Fenugreek – get the sludge out of your bulge
The man who always said, “Glory to God and His Wisdom,
Pahrk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun.”
There was and there wasn’t a humble man whose faith in God was staunch. He was never bewildered or shaken in his faith regardless of what happened to him or his family. He had a wife and two children. They lived in a small cottage. He earned his living by transporting goods on his donkey. He took good care of the donkey treating it like a member of the family.
Whatever he did, he first would give praise to God:
“Pahrk kez Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun.”
After completing his work he would repeat the same. When someone said hello to him, he would give praise to God. In fact, he would repeat his praise of God every opportunity he had. It was second nature for him to praise God.
He was a happy man who was satisfied with what God gave him. He never forgot to thank God for his meager existence with his family. His wife and children were poor but happy. They always had their minimum needs and enjoyed their family life.
The friends and co-workers of the humble man decided to test his sincerity. One day they stole his donkey and took it deep into the forest. They tied the animal near a basin of water and left him. When they returned, it was time to work. They all assembled with their donkeys. The humble man came on foot. They asked:
“Where is your donkey, brother? The humble man said:
“Pahrk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun – Glory to God and His Wisdom, I think someone has stolen my donkey.”
His friends said:”Ask your God to find the donkey!” They went on their way toward a neighboring village where there was work. The humble man prayed that day and stayed with his family.
That evening there were loud cries and noises coming from the village. The humble man went toward the commotion. He saw his friends who had returned from the day’s work. But, they were very distraught. He asked one of them, “What happened?”
“On the way to the next village, we were stopped by a large group of bandits. They made us dismount our donkeys. They whipped us and took whatever possession we had along with all our donkeys.”
“Parhk kehz Der Ahstvahdz yehv ko eemahstoutioun, Glory to God and His wisdom.”
“tzahvut dahnem, May I take your suffering on me,” said the humble man.
“Ahstvahdzuh vohghohrmeh tzehz muhgheetahroutian yehv bahstbahnoutian meechohtznehrov uhntmeest, May God bless you by consoling you and protecting you always,” he added.
The victims looked at the humble man and said: “You have nothing to worry about because Your God has blessed and protected you. We stole your donkey and hid it in the forest as a joke. We’ll show you where it is. The joke is on us.”
Along with my mother’s milk came Armenian Proverbs
I was told when turtles climb trees, I won’t need any training or education. But have you ever seen a turtle climb a tree?
guhreeahn dzahruh gehleh? Does the turtle climb a tree?
gahrehlee pahn eh? Is it possible?
ahngahrehlee eh! It is not possible!
To ask a question with an impossible outcome begs an obvious answer. Of course, turtle’s don’t climb trees. Therefore, children need education and training. Their education comes first from their parents and close family members such as grandparents, uncles and aunties. The elders are the first and most important source of education for children when it comes to values that will stay with the child throughout life. They naturally love the child and hope and pray the child will grow up to be an honest and responsible member of the family. It is said:
ahnchour deghuh chee lohghatzvee – You can’t bathe in a place where there is no water.
A child cannot be educated where there is no wisdom. The elders must educate the child in the generational wisdom handed down from antiquity which has been tested in time to be true and practical. If the elders are themselves lacking in wisdom, then all is lost. It is said:
Kahrehn dzagheek guh poueesnee? Does a flower grow out of a rock? It is very unlikely.
ahnkhehlk kuhlougheen yehrehssehn eench guh kahsseh khehjuh nehrpahnuh – Due to the ignorance of the head, the soles of the feet suffer untold miseries.
Children need guidance through love, example and experience under watchful eyes. A child cannot grow up without such careful and persistent instruction and protection. If such education is lacking, then the children lack the discrimination to avoid unnecessary suffering. It is said:
chouruh bahduhn ee vehr gehleh? Does water go up a wall? It is not possible. You cannot expect the children to educate themselves without proper and loving guidance from adult loved ones.
Wisdom is taught by love. It is said:
seerdeh seerd jahnpah gah – From one heart to another, there is a path. There is a connection between two loving hearts. The relationship of love opens all the channels of communication. This is necessary because the learning process takes time and effort and the relationship of love and respect for elders sustains a child’s ability and perseverance to learn. It is said:
gahmatz gahmatz pahmbhaguh guhlah mahnadz – slowly, slowly the cotton fibers are spun into thread.
The most fruitful years for learning wisdom and getting practical training is between 5 and 12 years old. It is said:
yehrgahtuh dahk- dahk guh dzehdzehn – when the iron is hot, it is pounded into shape. The five to seven years before puberty are the years when the mind of the child can accept discipline and readily assimilate knowledge. If the child is protected and nurtured by the parents, he can learn with amazing speed and accuracy during these formative years when he is not yet exposed to bad habits such as intoxication, gambling, sex. If the parents protect the child from different kinds of exploitation, bad association, and degrading influences, the child will have a clear mind to learn and also develop discipline and moral values to withstand negative influences. An example of a childâ€™s discriminative powers is given in the following story.
A hustler walked along the banks of stream on the outskirts of a village looking for someone to swindle. He saw a young Armenian boy playing with a gold coin. The hustler’s eyes lit up with greed. He pulled out a furry toy from his shoulder sack. He said:
“I’ll give you this toy if you give me your imitation gold coin.”
The Armenian boy said: “I don’t need your toy. But, if you imitate the braying of an ass, I’ll give you my coin.”
The hustler looked around to make sure no one else was witnessing what he was about to do. He took a deep breathe and brayed like a dumb ass in heat. The Armenian boy was very amused. He said:
“You believe I am so stupid to think this is an imitation gold coin? Although you are dumb as an ass, you know it is a real gold coin.”
The young boy was astute enough to recognize that the stranger was a cheat. He was not fooled by the hustler. In fact, he made a fool of the hustler.
When a young person who is not properly trained tries to separate from loved ones, protectors and elders, he or she becomes easy prey for unclean persons. Youth and white paper take any impression. It is said:
Hahmuhrvadz votchkhahruh kailuh chee ouhdehr – The lamb that has been counted will not be eaten by the wolf. (In other words, the lamb that is watched and always accounted for will not be eaten by the wolf)
Ahndehr votchkahruh kaiyluh goudeh – the lamb without the shepherd will be eaten by the wolf.
It is necessary to educate children to recognize the difference between a good and bad person. But it takes one to know one. The child needs to be trained to be honest and respectful. If he knows how to be honest and simple, he will be able to recognize honest people and distinguish them from dishonest or deceitful persons.
Ahmehn pahrehv dvogh pahrehgahm cheh – everyone who says hello to you is not a friend.
Ahmehn paiyd sehrep chee leenee, ahmehn sahruh massis – Every piece of wood is not a spoon, nor every mountain Mount Ararat
A dishonest person can only cheat someone who has weaknesses such as greed, lust, jealousy, etc. He will exploit that weakness to his advantage. It is said:
Aiyees dahkeen tzouyeen guh teemahnah? Can the snow last in this awful heat?
Without proper training from loving parents and good teachers, can a child withstand the temptations and exhortations of unscrupulous persons? Such persons have long term strategies to subvert the child’s power of discrimination and lead the young minds and bodies to be exploited. For example, how do child pornography films or pictures become available for depraved individuals? Obviously, innocent children have been exploited by unscrupulous persons.
Beware of persons who covet and cheat
Who’ll rob your honor and gold by deceit
Leading you down to frustration and defeat
Their hearts are bitter but they smile so sweet
It is said:
Chee koushahtzvahdz ahckeen metch paiydee guhdohr guh muhdneh
A splinter of wood can enter into the incautious eye
We suffer in life due to our own inattentiveness, weaknesses and mistakes. It is said:
Ahmehn votchkhahruh eehr vohdkehn guh gahghvehn
Every lamb is hung by its own feet.
This proverb indicates that every individual is responsible for his own actions. One suffers the negative results of engaging in bad habits. It is said:
Choureen goujuh choureen jahmpah guh gohdree
The clay pitcher of water is broken en route to its destination. This proverb implies that one gets what he deserves for engaging in bad habits. (It also implies one may suffer in the course of doing his duty.)
Learning good habits is the subject of many Armenian proverbs. It is said:
Tzehrkehrut luhvah gehrahgourehn ahratch ahroghjuhtihamp hahmahr, gehrahgourehn vehrch mahkrutiahamp hahmar – wash your hands before eating for your health and after eating for cleanliness
One needs to know basic hygiene. Today, washing one’s hands frequently is recommended to avoid catching viral and bacterial diseases. It is said:
Tzehrkuh tzehrk guh luhvah, yehrgou tzehrkuh yehresshuh – one hand washes the other and both hands the face. This proverb indicates the value of mutual dependence and mutual endeavor. Cooperation is the basis of happiness. Patience is another valuable quality.
Hahmpehreh, maiyrig kehzee pahn pehreh – Be patient, mother will bring you everything you need. Hahmpehroutiounuh giahnk eh – patience is necessary for a fruitful life.
Asking questions and listening carefully to the answers is another desirable quality.
Hahrtznohghuh guhlah kidtzoghuh – The one who asks questions, is the one who will understand. Serious inquiries from and elder will lead to receiving answers and knowledge and save much time and trouble. Humility, respect, offering service and asking important questions creates the right atmosphere for a fruitful exchange of questions and answers.
Hahrtznehlov baghdahd gehrtzatzvee – By asking one can reach Baghdad. (Baghdad was considered a very far off place from traditional Armenia. In other words, by asking questions and listening carefully to the answers one can reach the faraway (desired) goal.
Hahrtznehluh ahmoht chuhlah, chuhhahskuhnahluh ahmoht eh – Asking is not shameful, not understanding is.
Receiving good advice or a second opinion from a trusted friend has always been esteemed. It is said:
Mehg khehlk lahv eh, yehrgoossen ahvehli – one head is good, two is better (one brain is good, two is better).
After living under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire, the Armenians appreciated the value of not talking too much. It is said:
Yeteh dahssuh pahn keedehss, meguh uhseh, eennuh bahheh – If you know ten things, reveal one and keep nine to yourself.
Yehrp hahmodzvadz ches vor khohsskut pahnee muh degh gahntznee, lahv eh chee khohssehs – If you are not sure your opinion will accomplish a specific goal, better not say anything.
Mehg khohseer dahssuh luhsseer – For every one time you speak, listen ten times (literally this proverb says – speak once, listen ten times).
The Armenians have always put their emphasis on working hard and becoming expert in their trade or vocation. It is said:
Tuhchoun tehvohv eh tuhrchoum, mahrtou hahmpahvuh kohrdzohv – the bird flies with its wings and man achieves reputation (personal honor) by his work.
Lahv ahskhahdogheen lahv ahbroust – the good worker earns a good living.
Lahv huhntzvohruh tahsdoum ehl guh huntzee, sahroum ehl – the good farmer plows the fields expertly and even a mountain.
Khuhpuh ahskhahdelohv eh paiheeloum – the plough shines by working it (in the fields).
toun kehzee ohkneh vor ahstduhvadz kehzee ohkneh – help yourself so that God will also help you
There are many proverbs in Armenian extolling the benefits of hard and honest labor. At the same time, there are just as many that look on laziness as a vice.
Ahmahruh vor bahrgehs hohvehruh, tzuhmehruh guh sahdgehn gohveruh – Passing your summer sleeping comfortably soothed by the soft breeze, your cows will drop dead of starvation during the harsh winter ( literally If you sleep by the breezes of summer, your cows will drop dead during the winter).
Dzahreen dahguh bahrgehlohv pehrahnut dahndz chee uhnguhnee â€“ a pear will not fall into your mouth if you sleep under a tree
yehteh khoshgohv peelahv gehpvee, dzohvou chahp yough eendzmeh – if you can cook rice with words alone, then I’ll give you an ocean of oil for taste.
yehrguhrahchahpoutioun guhneh – he is measuring the earth meaning he is walking around uselessly without work.
Patience and self control is another virtue emphasized by Armenian proverbs.
Seerdut laiyn puhrneh, hahmpehreh, mee paghgahnahr
Keep your heart calm, be patient, don’t get angry.
Keeshehr cheghehl vor chee louyeesahtzehl
There has never been a night that didn’t become day.
But if one is impatient, the following is said.
mohrut pohruh eenuh ahmees eenchbes muhahtzeer – How did you stay nine months in your mother’s womb.
Armenians value an honest and decent person and they consider these qualities necessary for success.
eehrahv mahz vor uhllah chee guhduhree, souhd kehrahn ahl uhllah guh gohduhree – A truthful and decent hair cannot be cut, but a false or fake, imitation beam will easily be broken in pieces. This proverb implies that a person who is decent and honest will be successful and cheaters will fail.
Tzouguh chouroum ahrehvdour chen ahnoum
You don.t sell the fish while it is still swimming in the river (You don’t sell the fish before you catch it)
Another way to say this is judehruh ahsnahnuh guh hahmrehn – count your chicks in the fall (this has the same meaning as don’t count your chickens before they hatch)
There is a short story by Hohvhaness Toumanian that illustrates this proverb – “The travelers.”
One day a red rooster flew up on the roof of the farmer’s house to have a panoramic view of the world. He stretched his neck as long as he could, but couldn’t see much. There was a vast mountain nearby that hindered the view.
“Dog brother, maybe you know what lies on the other side of the big mountain?” asked the rooster to the dog resting below in the farmhouse yard.
“I don’t know either!” said the dog.
“For heavens sake, how long should we live without knowing what’s beyond our little world. Come on, let’s go and see what’s in this vast world.” The farm dog agreed. On the spur of the moment, they both left on their adventure.
They walked and walked until the sun set. They reached a forest where they decided to take rest. The dog brother curled up under a bush. The rooster flew up a nearby tree and landed on a branch. They both closed their eyes for rest.
At dawn, the rooster called out, Cocka-doodle-doo.
“Good God, where did that come from? My lucky day, a good breakfast,” thought the fox who ran as fast as he could toward the rooster.
“Good morning, cousin rooster. What are you up to in these parts?”
“I have come here to see the world,” said the rooster.
“Oh, what a wonderful adventure you have embarked on,” said the fox. For me, it has been such a long time that I am trying to find a good friend. It is my luck that we have met today. So let’s join together, come down we’ll go quickly,” said the fox.
“I agree,” said the rooster. “Wait, perhaps my friend wants to come to. I’ll come down and we’ll go.”
“Where is your friend, rooster cousin?”
“He’s under that bush over there.”
The fox thought to himself, “His friend must be a rooster like him. I’ll eat him first since he is already on the ground.” The fox ran to the bush. Suddenly the dog came out from under the bush. Seeing the dog scared the hell out of the fox, who high tailed it as fast as he could away from the dog.
“Wait a minute, fox brother, don’t run so fast. We want to go with you. How can we be friends and travel partners if you run away?” called out the rooster as loud as he could.
Ahratch ahsseghuh kez khuhreer, hehdoh mahkhatuh ouhreeseen
First pierce yourself with a pin before you stick a packing needle into someone else
(a packing needle is a very heavy duty needle used for sewing canvas sacs)
There is an instructive story that illustrates this proverb. There was and there was not a king who was gifted a powerful pair of binoculars. He enjoyed peering through the high power binoculars from his palace balcony. One day he noticed a temporary tent of nomads in the distance. He saw a nomadic woman step outside the tent. She was pregnant. After a few moments she stepped inside. After two hours she stepped outside again. She had a little baby in her arms. She gave birth to the baby and was around and about already. He was impressed.
He thought about his own wife also was also pregnant. She was expecting to give birth in one month. One day his wife seemed disturbed. She began to complain to her husband about some issues with her pregnancy that made her anxious. The king became impatient. He said:
“Stop complaining. Why can’t you go to the tent of the nomads and have your baby like their women. Don’t complain, just do it!” He told her about the nomad women he saw who gave birth to a child in the tent and then two hours later was walking with her child in her arms.
The queen didn’t say anything. She was offended by what the king said, but realized he needed to learn the difference between herself and the nomad woman.
She spoke privately with the king’s royal gardener who took special care of his heirloom rose garden. She told him that she and the king did not want him to water the roses anymore. They wanted to see if the roses could last a month without watering. The gardener was perplexed, but he didn’t say anything knowing well the quick temper of the royal couple. After two weeks, the roses wilted and began to fade away. Seeing the sad state of the roses, the king was convinced that the gardener was insubordinate. He ordered the gardener be hanged for disobeying his command to care for the royal roses.
The gardener protested that he was ordered by the queen not to water the roses. He claimed that the queen insisted that the king himself did not want the roses to be watered. The king immediately called the queen for an explanation.
The queen spoke to her husband:
“Dear husband, you know very well that there are so many wild rose bushes in nature that grow without having a gardener to water them. So I thought we could dispense with our gardener watering our rose bushes too. Similarly, you want me to have our baby in the tent of the nomads by myself instead of in our palace with the royal doctors and nurses. If I am obliged to give birth like the nomads, why can’t our roses thrive like the wild ones in nature?”
The king excused the gardener and kept silent. It is rightly said:
First pierce yourself with a pin before you stick a packing needle in someone else.
This is a story by Hohvahness Toumanian
(chakh chakh is an approximation of the sound that the wheel of a grain mill makes when turning)
There was and there was not a poor miller. He wore a torn sheep skin and wool coat, a flour dusty cloth covered his hair. He lived on the bank of a river in a dilapidated mill. He had an ashen, unleavened loaf of bread and a piece of cheese.
One day he went outside to release some water from the mill. When he returned, his cheese was missing. Another time, he went outside to let more water run into his mill. When he returned, the bread was gone. He thought, “Is there someone or is there not someone doing this mischief?” He thought and thought. Then he set a trap inside the mill and went to sleep. The next morning, he woke up to find a fox caught in the trap.
“Hey, you foul thief, you ate my cheese and bread. Hey, now I’ll show you what it is like to be a piece of stolen cheese. Saying this, the miller picked up a metal bar to smash to death the fox. The fox began to beg and plead: “Please don’t kill me for a little piece of cheese. Get me out of this trap and I’ll do many good things for you.’
The miller listened attentively and finally let the fox out of the trap.
The fox went away to a trash dump. It happened to be the dump where the palace waste of that country’s king was deposited. The fox walked and rummaged in the waste piles. The wily animal found a gold piece. He quickly ran toward the palace to talk to the king.
The fox addressed the king: “May the king live long (takavoruhn ahbradz gehnah), please loan me your large weighing bowl (gohduh – a large bowl of specific size used for weighing large quantities of gold and other precious items of value). The hammermill king has a certain quantity of gold. I’ll weigh it and bring back to you.
Tell me, who is this hammermill king? asked the local king who appeared perplexed and surprised.
“You don’t know him yet,” answered the fox. The hammermill king is a very wealthy monarch and I am his vizer (chief minister). Please give me the bowl. I’ll go weigh the gold, then you’ll know who he is.
The fox took the weighing bowl. He devised a clever plan. He stuck the gold coin he found in the dump into a crevice of the bowl. The fox came back that evening to return the weighing bowl.
“Oh,” said the fox. “We had a hard time weighing all that gold.”
“It’s hard to believe this fox needs such a big weighing bowl to measure the hammermill king’s gold,” thought the king. He struck the bowl with his hand. It made a hallow sound and the gold coin fell out of the crevice of the bowl. The king picked it up.
A couple of days later, the fox came back to ask another favor of the king. He said, “My hammermill king has a quantity of precious jewels and natural pearls. Please loan me your weighing bowl again and I’ll bring it back tonight after weighing them. The fox picked up the large bowl and went away. The fox was able to find a pearl. He stuck it into another crevice of the weighing bowl. He brought it back that evening.
“Oh,” said the fox. “We nearly died weighing all those precious jewels.”
Later, the king slapped the bowl and a precious pearl fell out of one of the crevices. The king was stunned. He thought to himself. “How much wealth must this hammermill king have? He needs such a big weighing bowl to measure his gold, precious jewels and pearls.”
Several days passed. One day the fox came to see the king to arrange a marriage. The fox: “The hammermill king has a desire to marry. He would like to marry your daughter.”
The king became very pleased. He felt like the whole world belonged to him.
“Go right away,” he said. “Go quickly. See that all the preparations are made for the wedding.” The king’s place was turned upside down in the excitement of preparation for the marriage. Everything down to the finest detail was made ready. The fox rushed back to the hammermill king. He wanted to give him the good news (the way to announce good news in Armenian is to say “may your eyes light up” – ahckuht louyees).
The fox said, “Well, well, my friend, I asked the king to let you marry his daughter. He agreed. Get ready. You are going to get married now.”
“My God,” exclaimed the hammermill king. “May your house crumble to the ground, you crazy fox.” (kou dounut kahntvee – may your house crumble to the ground is a phrase of disapproval in Armenian).
“What have you done,” said the frightened miller. “Who am I to merit marrying the king’s daughter.” (when making a comparison of two unequal things or persons in Armenian, one says: yes ohv, tahkavoreen aghckuh ohv – who am I and who is the king’s daughter).
“I have no income, no house or property, and no decent clothes. Now tell me, what am I to do?” (votch ahbrusst ounehm, votch dounn ou degh, votch mee tzehrk shohr. Heemee yes inch ahnehm?)
“Don’t be afraid, I’ll make all the necessary arrangement,” said the fox. He tried to allay the anxiety of the destitute miller. The fox ran back to the king’s palace. He spoke with the king. “Oh my god, the hammermill king organized a grand procession to come here for the marriage. On the road, a large number of enemy soldiers suddenly surrounded the king’s procession, killed many of the king’s guards and stole everything of value. Fortunately, the king escaped unharmed and is hiding in an abandoned mill on the bank of a creek. He sent me to give you the bad news and also fetch some clean clothes to get married. After the marriage, he wants to get revenge for such an insult by giving hot pursuit of the perpetrators. The king immediately got everything ready for the fox to deliver to the hammermill king. He ordered a large contingent of his mounted soldiers to accompany the fox so that his future son-in-law could be escorted with royal pomp and honor to be married.
The fox and the soldiers arrived at the door of the dilapidated mill. The poor miller quickly took off his rough sheepskin coat and put on the royal clothes. He mounted a stately horse . He was surrounded by the mounted honor guard. Ahead of him were the mounted soldiers and behind as well. The procession parted toward his future father-in-law’s palace. They arrived at the richly endowed palace. The poor miller had never seen such dazzling opulence. He stared at all four corners of the palace with an air of confusion, his mouth open and at times touching and looking at his royal clothing in disbelief and astonished beyond his wits.
“Brother fox, why is your king staring at everything as if he has never seen a royal house,” asked the king? “It seems as if your king has never seen a palace before nor worn royal robes.”
“No sire, it is not that at all,” replied the wily fox. “He is observing carefully and comparing your palace and possessions to his and thinking how extensive his opulent possessions are compared to yours.” (teh eehr ounehtzadzuh vohr degh, ehss vor degh – his opulence is so much and this your’s seems so little)
They sat down for a royal dinner. Many different types of foods were served. The simple miller couldn’t choose which one to eat, nor how to eat it.
“Why is he not eating, brother fox,” asked the king?
“He is sadly reflecting on the robbery that took place when he began he was coming here. You can’t even imagine, my dear sire, how valuable were the things that were stolen, and how nasty and demeaning is was for my king. How can he eat in peace now,” said the fox with a sigh of frustration.
“Don’t fret for that, leave your worries aside, my dear son-in-law. This is the way of the world. Sometimes these things happen.” The king tried to console his son-in-law. “This is your wedding! Let us be happy. Let’s have a good time now.”
They began to regale with joy. They ate, drank, play musical instruments and dance. They continued the marriage festivities for seven days and seven nights. The fox became the best man for the hammermill king.
After the wedding festivities, the king gave a huge dowry for his daughter to his son-in-law. With great pomp and merriment the king accompanied the newly weds to the palace of the hammermill king.
“All of you proceed together. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. I’ll go ahead and get everything ready at my king’s palace for your grand reception there,” said the best man. The fox ran as fast as he could until he reached a pasture where a large herd of cows were grazing. He asked the cow herders, “Who owns these cows?” They answered, “Shah Mar.”
“Don’t you dare repeat Shah Mar’s name again!” said the fox. “My king is very upset with him. He is coming behind me with a large army. Whoever repeats the name of Shah Mar will have his head cut off. If you are asked who these cows belong to, say the hammermill king. If you don’t, the devil will take you to hell.” (teh cheh, vaduhn (sadahnahn – devil) yegehl eh tehz dahnehl – if not, misery will be your lot (literally misery will take you)
The fox continued to ran faster and faster. He saw a flock of sheep mounting the steeps of a mountain.
He asked, “Who do these sheep belong to?â”The sheepherders answered, “Shah Mar.” The fox instructed the sheepherders in the same way as the cowherds.
The fox continued to run and run He came upon vast cultivated agricultural fields with the farmers and laborers working.
“Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox. They said, “Shah Maree.” The fox instructed the farmers in the same way.
He ran and ran. He encountered expansive fields of hay. “Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox.
The hay gatherers said, “Shah Mar’s.” He instructed them as he did the others.
The fox finally reached Shah Mar’s palace.
“Shah Mar, O Shah-Mar,” called the fox as he ran toward to king. “May your house not be destroyed. You are innocently unaware of the evil that is looming. The king is upset with you. He is approaching your palace with a large army bent of killing you and pillaging everything you have and leaving only desolation and despair. You may not remember, but once I ate a little chick in your company. I have never forgotten your generosity and the good taste of that meal. That is why I have come running in great haste to give you this dire news. You must quickly get out of here by any means before that terrible tyrant reaches your palace.”
“What can I do? Where will I go?” asked the frightened Shah Mar. He could see the rising cloud of dust of a large number of men and horses of the invading king in the horizon.
“Run, get away as fast as possible with a sturdy horse. Go far away from this doomed land, and don’t look back.”
Shah Mar mounted his best horse and escaped as fast as he could from his domain
The wedding party and the troops approached the palace of Shah Mar. They were sounding off trumpets, banging on drums, singing as loud as possible while surrounded by a huge contingent of mounted and armed soldiers. The riflemen continually shot rounds of bullets into the air. There was am awful din of noise.
The hammermill king and his wife were riding in a gold-plated chariot There was a multitude of soldiers in front and back of their chariot. The troops reached a large field where they saw a herd of cows pasturing. The mounted troops asked the cowherd men: “Whose cows are these?”
“The hammermill king’s cows,” answered the cowherds.
They continued on their path. They arrived at a large area of cultivated land.
They asked the farmers: “Who owns these abundant fields?”
“The hammermill king,” they replied.
They continued on and reached the vast fields of hay.
They asked the laborers: “Who is the owner of these fields?”
“The hammermill king,” they replied.
All were astonished. The hammermill king was on the verge of losing his mind. He couldn’t believe his ears.
The troops arrived Shah-Mar’s palace. The best man fox was already established as the master of the palace. He had made all the appropriate preparations and received the honored guests and newly found relatives. They all began the joyful festivities.
For seven days and seven nights they enjoyed themselves royally. After the festivities ended the guests returned to their kingdom. The hammermill king along with his wife and his best man, the fox, live now in Shah-Mar’s palace. Until this very day, Shah-Mar is still running frightened out of wits of the hammermill king.
The Pot of Gold
I heard from our elders, they in turn from their fathers, they in turn from their elders, that once upon a time there was a poor farmer who had a rented plot of land and a yoke for one bull. During the harsh winter the farmer’s bulls died. In the early spring when it was time to begin to plow and clear the fields, the farmer did not have any bulls to work the land. He rented the land to a neighbor to farm.
While the neighbor tilled the field, his hoe hit an object. He thought it was a big rock. When he unearthed it, he saw a clay water jug full of gold coins. He tied his bulls and ran to the village to his neighbor who rented him the land.
“Hey brother, may the sunlight brighten your eyes (ahchkut louyee), I just unearthed this pot full of gold on your land. Take it, it belongs to you.”
“No way, brother, it does not belong to me,” said the farmer to his renter.
“You paid me rent for the land, you plowed the ground. Whatever comes out of the land belongs to you. If it is gold, so be it, it belongs to you.”
They began to argue back and forth. The renter said, “It is yours brother,” and the farmer said, “No, it is yours.” They argued more and more until they came to blows. Finally, they went before the king with their mutual differences of opinion. Then the king heard about the pot of gold, his eyes bulged from their sockets with greed. He spoke.
“It does not belong either of you. The pot of gold came out of the plot of land that belongs to me. It’s mine!” The king proceeded with his guards to the farmer’s place to fetch the pot of gold for himself. When the king opened the lid of the pot, he was shocked to find that instead of gold, the pot was brimming with poisonous snakes!
The king became incensed with rage and rushed back to his palace. He ordered his men to severely punish these country bumpkins for daring to cheat him.
“May the king live long, we beg to differ,” said the two hapless prisoners. “Why are you going to execute us. There is some mistake. Maybe you did not look into the pot correctly. There are not any snakes. It is full of precious gold, so much gold, Sire.”
The king sent a group of his men to examine the pot again. When the men returned, they affirmed that the pot was full of gold.
“My God,” said the king is a burst of amazement. “I must not have looked carefully into the pot or, maybe, I looked into the wrong pot.” The king darted out again to see the pot of gold. He opened the lid and again he was shocked to find the pot full of poisonous snakes.
“What kind of magic is this? What does it mean? I don’t understand,” said the king.
He issued a royal order that all the sages and wise men in his kingdom come immediately to his palace for a consultation. He addressed them thus, “Please explain to me my dear wise men the origin and meaning of this strange event. These farmers unearthed a pot full of gold. When I went to examine it, I saw the same pot full of dangerous snakes. When they look, they see only precious gold. What does this mean?”
The wise men addressed the king, “If the honored king does not get upset, we can explain the meaning. The pot of gold was a gift sent to the poor farmers for their noble and honest work. When they looked into the pot, they saw their rightful reward of precious gold. But, when you looked into the pot, you had intent to usurp the fortune belonging to others. Because of that illicit desire, you saw dangerous snakes instead of gold.”
The king was shocked. He was speechless. He composed himself and spoke to the wise men: “I accept. But you must still determine which one of these two farmers owns the pot of gold.”
The farmer who unearthed the pot said, “It belongs to my neighbor who rented the plot to me.”
“It’s not true,” said the farmer who rented the plot. “It belongs to my friend the renter.” The two farmers began to argue again.
“Stop this arguing right now,” said the wise men. “Now tell us. Do you have children? If so, tell us whether they are girls or boys and what are their ages?”
It turned out that one farmer had a boy and the other a girl and both children were of marriageable age. The wise men decided that the one farmer’s son and the other’s daughter should get married. The pot of gold that was unearthed should be gifted to the newly married couple. The two honest farmers agreed.
Eight days and eight nights the humble villagers celebrated the marriage of the farmer’s children. The pot of gold that was unearthed and later revealed to be a gift to them in recognition of their noble and honest work throughout their lives was offered to their children. Blessing and goodness were with the humble, honest people; bad behavior and greediness with the king.
The values that define the character of people are often preserved in proverbs, stories and words of wisdom handed down from generation to generation. Armenian proverbs and teaching stories have served as useful tools to educate new generations the accumulated wisdom of their ancestors. One can understand a people by their stories and words of wisdom.
There is one proverb that may summarize the learning experience: It says
Ahmehn pohrtzank mehg khuhrahd eh, votch pohrtzank guh vehrchanah, votch khuhraduh
“Every trying experience is a lesson. The experiences will never end, nor will the lessons to be learned.”
Life is full of experiences and lessons to be learned. For example, a child may play with matches. The fascination with striking a match and igniting a flame may seem irresistible to a curious child. For an inexperienced young child, playing with matches may be very dangerous. The child can burn himself or set fire to a house and cause damage or death or both. If an adult sees the child playing with matches, he may scold or spank the child or even dramatically show the child what happens when playing with matches. Out of a sense of tough love, the adult may light a match and bring it close enough to slightly burn the finger of the child. Once the child can understand how dangerous it is playing with matches, there is a good chance he will no longer want to play recklessly with them knowing well that he will be punished and perhaps burned again.
It is said:
Ahntzuhrehvuh eench ahnee kahreen, khuhraduh eench ahnee chahreen
What good is it if the rain falls on a rock? What good is advice for a bad or foolish person?
Because a child may not understand good advice, it may be necessary to scold, spank and punish to make the point. Spare the rod and spoil the child does not help the child to be well educated, disciplined and responsible. But one should not terrorize or scare the child.
One can be affectionate all the time, but still teach a child discipline and responsibility. It is said:
Ahrantz seerehl seerd chee gah
Without love or fondness, there is no heart to encourage and uplift.
Children need to be continually supervised because if they are left on their own, they may inadvertently do something that endangers them. It is said:
Yehrehkhaheen kohrtzee teer, yehdehvehn kuhnah
Give a child a task, but carefully observe his work.
It takes time and patience to train a child and repetition is necessary. In fact, it is said:
Khelokeen meg, ahnkhelkeen hahzahr ou mehg
One time is enough for a wise person, but a thousand and one times may be necessary for the uneducated.
Basic values of life are best learned in childhood with good training. It is said:
Gahtee hed muhdahdzuh, hohqou hed tuhrsuh
What is learned in childhood will remain until death (literally this proverb says “what enters while drinking milk, will exit with the soul”).
Without learning lessons of wisdom, we may easily be discouraged by the difficulties we encounter in life such as sickness, old age, death, natural catastrophes, political events, etc. It is said:
Yes kez khuhrahd, ell chuh tzahness gudahvuhhahd
I will give you wisdom, so that you will not be discouraged and hopeless.
People become discouraged when they cannot see any way to improve their situation in life. They end up hopeless. Receiving wisdom, however, gives people a sense of empowerment by which they can understand the reasons for their difficulties and how to rectify the situation. It is said:
Muhdik uhreh mehdzeen khuhrad vor chee hasni portzank vuhrhat
Listen to the advice of elders so that misfortune does not come upon you.
(Listen to elder’s advice, so that you avoid misfortune and vice.)
Respect for elders especially father and mother and grandparents, uncle and aunties, and elders in general especially spiritual teachers is the beginning of the learning process. Without such respect, one will not be ready to accept knowledge from the accumulated wisdom of previous generations. Lacking respect for elders one will vacillate toward unqualified persons for inspiration and advice or example. It is said:
Lav eh eemashdoun marthoun karereh guhrrelh
Kahn teh unmuhdkeen kineen khuhmelh
It is better to carry the rocks of a wise man
Than to drink the wine of a fool
Fools rush in where angels fear to thread. Fools never take the time to think carefully about the consequences of their acts. They make quick decisions and often are attracted to immediate gratifications rather than long term benefits materially and spiritually. What the fool may do in the end, the wise man does in the beginning. Wise men will learn from other’s mistakes, but fools, by their own. It is said:
Kohar muh keen ounee, pari khuhradmuh uhnkeen eh
A precious jewel has a price, but good advice is priceless.
Good advice is priceless because it can save so much time, trouble, heartache and even death. Good advice can be accepted or rejected. If a man is drowning in a well and someone throws a rope down. He must take hold of the rope to be saved. It is said
“He was slain that had warning, not he that took it.”
If we want good advice but refuse to follow it, then we cannot expect good results. What use is it to see a doctor and get medicine for an ailment, then go home and throw it in the trash. It is said:
Jahnahchelh eemastoutioun yehv khuhrahd, eemahnahl ayn pahrehr vor gouhdahn hahsgatzoghoutioun
To know wisdom and instruction, and to perceive words of understanding.
This was the first sentence translated into Armenian from the Bible (Prov 1:1) soon after the invention of the Armenian alphabet in AD 405. To acquire understanding about the purpose of life and how to attain it while living a good life free of vice and unnecessary suffering brought on by ignorance is the purpose of knowledge and wisdom.
Real learning begins with humility. It is said:
hahmesht yegheer vor sohrvees – Be humble so that you can learn
huhnazahnt yegheer vor hedehvees – be obedient so you can follow
sahd luhsseh yehv keetch khosseh – listen much and talk little
hahrtz uhreh yehv badashkhan luhsseh – ask questions and listen to the answers
muhdahdzeh ou yertoum ehrreh – think deeply and make a vow
misht sheedak jahmpah hedeveh – always walk the straight path (the path of knowledge and virtue)
Seeking out a genuine knowledgeable person and humbly listening to his or her advice is the beginning of learning. It is said:
Yegheer keedounee kehree, mee leeneerh ahnkedeen seerehlee
Become the servant of the wise man rather than the sweetheart of the fool.
Learn to listen to the wise person attentively without any distraction. It is said:
Yehs kehz pahn yem ahsoum, eehssk tou pahmbak ehss kuhzoum
I am trying to tell you something, but you are combing raw cotton.
(To make conventional cotton wool or thread, the cotton is harvested, cleaned to remove dirt and seeds, and then carded. Carding separates the fibers and roughly lines them up, so that they all lie in the same direction. The cotton is divided into slivers, hanks of raw cotton which are spun into thread or wool. When cotton is combed, fine brushes are used to pull out any remaining impurities, along with short cotton fibers. Approximately 15% of the volume is removed, leaving behind only long, straight fibers which are even and aligned. The slivers of combed cotton are then spun into thread.)
If one remains always inattentive, there will never be any lessons learned. It is said:
Ehssuh kahrasoun ahnkam yehrusahlem eh kuhnatzehr, ehli ehs eh munatzehr
The donkey went to Jerusalem forty times, and still remained a (dumb) donkey
There is a saying: “Man is known to be mortal by two things, sleep and lust.” One can remain asleep to what is the real purpose of life even though awake and functioning as if normal. This is due to bad habits that divert the mind from self realization to self gratification. It is said:
Akhkadoutiyan badjaruh yerrek – Khoumarji, zennehji, keenovnahl
There are three causes of poverty: gambling, womanizing, and drinking.
One remains poor materially and spiritually. Material poverty is not a crime. As long as one maintains “bahdeev” or honor, self-respect and moral rectitude, they can function and by the grace of God they will somehow make ends meet.
It is said: Lahv eh keetch, kahn votch eench “ better something than nothing
But, as soon as one becomes addicted to low class behavior such as intoxication, gambling and philandering, a steady downward spiral takes place. It is said: Women, wine, game and deceit, lowers one to shame and defeat. Bad habits and bad friends will cause one to lose good qualities such as honesty, self-control, patience, tolerance, compassion,etc.
It is said:
Halal mahzuh chee guhduhrvee, hahrahm kehrahnuh guh gohduhrvee
One single hair of a good person cannot be cut, but a thick column (belonging to a sinful person) can be easily broken (the literal translation of the Armenian is: righteous hair cannot be cut, a sinful column can be broken).
Mahrtuh shohrohv eh keghyeghcheek, khosskuhn ahradzoh
A man is handsome due to his clothes, speech with proverbs of wisdom