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Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • giankuh yehv hahroustoutiounuh ahntzoghahgan yehn, meeaihyn eemahsdoutiounuh muhnaihoun eh

    Time, the reaper, moves unrelentingly in stealth
    Robs each man slowly of his hard-earned wealth
    Ravages the body, ruins his health
    Leaves him forlorn, feeling sorry for himself

    Man like a puppet is forced to act
    To eat, to sleep, have sex, fight back
    Thinking falsely he is in control
    But lives in fear like a lowly mole

    Happiness appears, gives us hope and cheers
    We yearn for more, yet it disappears
    Memories we hold of bygone years
    That give some solace and sad tears

    We live in an illusory kingdom
    Chasing madly happiness and freedom
    Why persist after a hopeless phantom
    True value is acquiring wisdom

    Wisdom sees the past and reads the future
    Without such vision we are doomed to failure
    Everyone is born and destined to die
    This is a truth no sane person can deny

    We seek happiness in the wrong place
    Sex, drugs, gambling are a disgrace
    Beneath the dignity of the human race
    That arouse man’s passions the most base

    There is a higher pleasure, a higher fate
    A peaceful, uplifting mental state
    It begins when we see the body and soul
    And use everything for the spiritual goal

    Understand we are not the controller, nor enjoyer
    We are subordinate to God, our employer
    Material things belong to God who sets aside our share
    Accept the minimum, use the rest to spread His grace and care

    Life dedicated to God’s service is mankind’s best hope

    We will be known not for what we saved but what we gave

    If we are blessed with assets use them in God’s service

    By such unselfish service we are freed of lust, anger and greed

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  • On November 24th and 25th every year the religious festival of worship of Gadhimai, the Nepali goddess of motherhood of all living beings was celebrated. Pleasing her is supposed to release the worshipers from sin, anger, desire and stupidity. It is shocking that a group of Nepali priests decided that the best way to worship Gadhimai is by slaughtering up to 500,000 animals in two days. The animals include cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, rats, pigeons, rabbits, etc.

    The animals are hacked to pieces by traditional Nepali knives called kukri traditionally used by the Gurkhas. These blades of these weapons vary in size from a few inches to three feet. The longer kukri are used to chop off the heads of the buffaloes and cows with one strike. The animals are penned up and often tied down. A group of 250 appointed hackers, usually in an alcohol induced frenzy, mutilate to death the animals. The brutal slaughter turns many acres surrounding the temple of Gadhimai into bloody marshes in which people stand. The stink of the hacked body parts of the animals and their entails will spread for miles and last for months. The spectators regale hearing the piercing shrieks of the animals and many people’s clothes are splattered in blood. Rather than release the hackers and spectators from sin, anger and stupidity, it inflames them to extreme acts of cruelty and calloused savagery against defenseless animals in the name of religion.

    This orgy of slaughter is supposed to be a religious festival during which the Deity of Gadhimai is literally covered with the feces, urine and blood of the sacrificed animals. It takes place every five years in the Bara district of south-west Nepal. It is partially funded by the government of Nepal and attended by up to one million worshippers.

    Manoj Shah, a Nepali driver, has attended the event since he was six. In an interview this year he said: “It is the traditional way. If we want anything, we come here with an offering for the goddess. Within five years, all our dreams will be fulfilled.” It is the popular belief that the worshippers can make their wishes come true by offering animals for slaughter to the goddess. This was validated by a Hindu priest named Chandan Dev Chaudhary. He declared: “The goddess needs blood so that the person can make his wishes come true.”

    The Gadhimala mela was run by the animal skin, bone and meat coalition of businessmen and money-lenders which fund the priests and temple for their blessings amid a ceremonial air of piety. Deals were made with butchers. Trucks commissioned to take away the fresh meat and bones. The skins sold to contractors in Chennai and Kolkata for the manufacture of shoes. Stalls rented to alcohol, food and flower vendors. The animal sacrifices were propelled by commercial interests.

    Is there justification in the Vedas (the Hindus scriptures) for this spectacle of animal sacrifice? Are the Hindu priests in Nepal justified in encouraging the common people to engage in such religious ceremonies of animal sacrifice?

    Animal sacrifice was performed in earlier times by qualified Vedic priests. This was over 5000 years ago in a previous age called Dvapara yuga when there were highly qualified Vedic priests who could rejuvenate the dead cows. Such practices were performed to prove that the priests were actually qualified. They were only allowed to kill if they could resuscitate the dead cows. But such practices were not permitted when the present age began 5000 years ago because there are no longer qualified priests who can rejuvenate a dead animal.

    We must understand from Vedic authorities the real purpose of animal sacrifice in the Vedas. This question was debated by Lord Caitanya (the 15th century with Chand Kazi, the Mohammedan magistrate of the area of Bengal where the Lord appeared over five hundred years ago. Lord Caitanya challenged the Chand Kazi by asking a question:

    The Lord said, “You drink cows’ milk; therefore the cow is your mother. And the bull produces grains for your maintenance; therefore he is your father. Since the bull and cow are your father and mother, how can you kill and eat them? What kind of religious principle is this? On what strength are you so daring that you commit such sinful activities?” (CC. Adi.ch.17.153)

    Chand Kazi was a Muslim scholar of the Koran as well as knowledgeable in the Vedas. He stated that killing cows is permitted in the Koran. He reminded Lord Caitanya that the Vedas also recommend cow sacrifice:

    “In Your Vedic scriptures there is an injunction for killing a cow. On the strength of this injunction, great sages performed sacrifices involving cow-killing.”

    The Lord immediately replied, “The Vedas clearly enjoin that cows should not be killed. Therefore every Hindu, whoever he may be, avoids indulging in cow-killing.” There is an explicit statement in the Bhagavad-gita (18.44) that cows should be protected, “The duty of vaisyas (businessmen and agriculturalists) is to produce agricultural products, trade and give protection to cows.” Therefore it is a false statement that the Vedic scriptures contain injunctions permitting cow-killing.

    The Lord proceeded to give the correct explanation of why cow sacrifice was permitted in earlier Vedic period. The Vedas permit qualified brahmanas to kill animals for experimental purposes if and only if they have the power to immediately bring the animal back to life. Whenever there was a Vedic sacrifice, the brahmanas performing it were tested to see if they were successful or not. The test was a sacrificial offering of an old cow placed in the fire. The brahmana priest repeated certain mantras while the cow burned and then pulled the cow out of the fire. If he conducted the sacrifice perfectly the cow was rejuvenated to a young calf. The purpose of the sacrifice was not to kill the animal and then eat it. It was to test whether the brahmana could give the animal new life. The animal sacrifice tested the power and purity of the Vedic mantras he recited and his character. It was not a frenzy of ritual animal killing for commercial profit or a huge barbecue.

    The Vedas enjoin that in the present age called Kaliyuga such animal sacrifices are not allowed because the brahmanas no longer are qualified to conduct them successfully.
    In the Brahma-vaivarta Purana (KrÌshna-janma-khana 185.180), it is stated, ‘In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow (or bull) in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyasa (renunciation), the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.’

    For a more complete historical perspective, we must mention that Lord Buddha, an incarnation of Lord Krishna, who appeared over 2500 years ago in India, raised the same objection to animal slaughter by Hindus in the name of religion. Lord Buddha was born into a Hindu royal family. On attaining adulthood, he noticed that there was tremendous suffering in his kingdom. He tried to understand why. After a period of renunciation and contemplation, he realized that the cause was due to improper teaching of the Vedas by the priestly brahmana class that misled people into sinful activities. Rather than attempt to correct the brahmanas of his time who were not qualified to perform Vedic sacrifices because they had lost the power and purity to do so, he decided to categorically reject the Vedic authority and set up a standard of ahimsa paramo dharma (supreme spiritual practices) based on ahimsa (nonviolence and compassion for all living beings) for the benefit of the common people. He recognized that the brahmanas had strayed so far away from the correct following of the Vedas and that they were so corrupted by material benefits derived from ritual performances that they would never understand. So he undermined their entire corrupt system of ritual sacrifice by rejecting the Vedas.

    Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a Vedic authority and recognized scholar and author of translations and commentary on many Vedic texts, has written about Lord Buddha,

    “Technically Lord Buddha’s philosophy is called atheistic because there is no acceptance of the Supreme Lord and because that system of philosophy denied the authority of the Vedas. But that is an act of camouflage by the Lord. Lord Buddha is the incarnation of Godhead. As such, he is the original propounder of Vedic knowledge. He therefore cannot reject Vedic philosophy. But he rejected it outwardly because the asura, or the demons who are always envious of the devotees of Godhead, try to support cow-killing or animal-killing from the pages of the Vedas, and this is now being done by the modernized sannyasis. Lord Buddha had to reject the authority of the Vedas altogether. This is simply technical, and had it not been so he would not have been so accepted as the incarnation of Godhead.

    Nor would he have been worshiped in the transcendental songs of the poet Jayadeva, who is a Vaisnava Ãcarya(guru in disciplic succession). Lord Buddha preached the preliminary principles of the Vedas in a manner suitable for the time being (and so also did Sankaracarya) to establish the authority of the Vedas. Therefore both Lord Buddha and Ãcarya Sankara paved the path of theism, and the Vaisnava Ãcaryas (such as Ramanujacarya, Madhavacarya and), specifically Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, led the people on the path towards a realization of going back to Godhead.”

    Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada also writes about Jesus Christ in the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.15.10) as follows,

    “Upon seeing the person engaged in performing the sacrifice, animals meant to be sacrificed are extremely afraid, thinking, “This merciless performer of sacrifices, being ignorant of the purpose of sacrifice and being most satisfied by killing others, will surely kill us.”


    “Animal sacrifice in the name of religion is current practically all over the world in every established religion. It is said that Lord Jesus Christ, when twelve years old, was shocked to see the Jews sacrificing birds and animals in the synagogues and that he therefore rejected the Jewish system of religion and started the religious system of Christianity, adhering to the Old Testament commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ At the present day, however, not only are animals killed in the name of sacrifice, but the killing of animals has increased enormously because of the increasing number of slaughterhouses. Slaughtering animals, either for religion or for food, is most abominable and is condemned herein. Unless one is merciless, one cannot sacrifice animals, either in the name of religion or for food.”

    Today, as in the time of Lord Buddha (2500 years ago) and Lord Caitanya (500 years ago), the priestly class whether, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Jewish or even Buddhist who are not qualified to teach their scripture have invented horrible rituals or customs permitting massive animal slaughter in the name of religion. For example, the Thanksgiving Day in the USA requires the slaughter of 47 million turkeys. In Islam, after Ramadan or Hajj, millions of animals are slaughtered ritually. The rabbis slaughter animals for the kosher diet. Even amongst some sects of Buddhism there is also animal slaughter. A friend of one of my sons is a Buddhist. He attends a Buddhist temple in Redmond. He explained to me that the chief monk of the Buddhist temple explained that when a Buddhist (in their sect of Buddhism) eats meat, the soul of the animal is elevated quickly to a human birth. This is their belief. People can believe whatever they want, but there is no evidence in the life and teaching of Buddha that such a claim is true.

    The problem is not with the teaching of the prophets, it is with the misinterpretations of unqualified teachers or priests who misrepresent the teaching for vested interests. This misrepresentation is taking place in all the religions of the world and is causing havoc in society. The common people are bewildered in determining what is right or wrong.

    There was once a marriage ceremony. Right before the marriage was consecrated a bird fell down dead in front of the bride and groom. Everyone looked at the elder amongst them for an explanation. He said immediately get a straw hat. The hat was handed to him. He carefully and seemingly ceremoniously placed the hat over the bird. He said solemnly, “Let the marriage continue.” Years later, the elder died and the child of the bride and groom became of marriage age. When the preparations for the marriage were being discussed they consulted with the elders on how to perform the marriage according to their religious and family customs. The elders said, “You must have a dead bird place about two feet nears the bride and groom. A special straw hat must be placed ceremoniously on the bird by the groom’s father and he must say solemnly, “Let the marriage continue.” Thus a family tradition became part of the marriage ritual for all future generations.

    Many customs and rituals that are being practiced today are also similarly fabricated like the dead bird ritual above. The ritual slaughter of cows and buffaloes in Nepal is a ceremonial performance that dates back hundred of years. Similarly, in other parts of India such as Calcutta when Kali or Durga puja is performed many thousands of animals are slaughtered. However, these sacrificial slaughter of innocent animals have no basis in Vedic scriptural evidence. Yet, the common people believe that because these ritual performances have a long history, if they stop them, there will be catastrophic consequences.
    By testing the validity of a statement against Vedic evidence and the collaborating evidence of previous recognized acaryas or great teachers such as Buddha, Sankara, Ramanuja, Madhava, Caitanya, we can determine what is true and what is misrepresentation.
    We can ask if there is Vedic evidence that permits animal sacrifice? The answer is yes but with many strict restrictions. First, there is no provision for slaughter of cows.
    It is explained in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila, Chapter 17, verse 166): “Cow killers are condemned to rot in hellish life for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of the cow.” The Yajur Veda 13.43 and 13.48 states, “Do not kill the cow which is splendor of life and [which is] inviolable,” and “Do not kill the Ox.”

    The Manu Samhita states that the karmic punishment for killing a cow is very severe.

    “If he has a strong desire (for meat) he may make an animal of clarified butter or one of flour (and eat that); but let him never seek to destroy an animal without a (lawful) reason. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in future births.” (Manu-samhita 5.37-38)

    A lawful reason means according to scriptural laws. According to Vedic scripture, license is given to meat eaters to sacrifice a black goat once a month on the dark moon night. It is strictly forbidden to purchase a slain animal for consumption in Vedic scripture. The person who wants to eat meat must kill the goat on a dark (or new) moon night under the supervision of a priest who instructs him to repeat the following mantra before cutting the throat of the goat, “Mam sa khadatiti mamsah.” The Sanskrit word is mamsa. Mam means “me,” and sa means “he.” I am killing this animal; I am eating him. And in my next lifetime he’ll kill me and eat me. When the animal is sacrificed, this mantra is recited into the ear of the animal ˜You are giving your life, so in your next life you will get the opportunity of becoming a human being. And I who am now killing you will become an animal, and you will kill me. (Journey of Self Discovery 6.5)

    The purpose of the ritual and the repetition of the mantra is to contain unrestricted meat eating by forcing the meat eater to kill the animal himself and witness the horror of the act as well as to repeat the mantra that reveals the consequences of such an act. Such regulation is meant to discourage the meat eater by making him understand the consequences of his acts. Unrestricted meat eating is forbidden. The massive slaughter of animals for Gadhimai or Kali puja is not a bona fide Vedic ritual.
    Further Vedic evidence is given in the Srimad Bhagavatam (11.5.14),

    “Those sinful persons who are ignorant of actual religious principles, yet consider themselves to be completely pious, without compunction commit violence against innocent animals who are fully trusting in them. In their next lives, such sinful persons will be eaten by the same creatures they have killed in this world.”

    In conclusion, we may cite two quotes, one by Mahatma Gandhi and the second by His Divine Grave A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami.

    “Cow-slaughter and man-slaughter are in my opinion two sides of the same coin.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

    “You are killing innocent cows and other animals, nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They’ll fight amongst themselves, Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? That is nature’s law. Tit for tat. “You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.” (Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada)

    Animal sacrifice is also practiced officially in the Armenian Christian Church since it began as the state religion of Armenia in 303 AD, St. Gregory the Illuminator, the Armenian Saint who converted King Drtad of Armenia, converted a large portion of the Armenian people in his kingdom to Christianity, He also used the forces loyal to the king who objected to conversion. This happened in Taron, which is an area of traditional Armenian habitation west of Lake Van known as Sassoun and Moush in modern times. There was also an colony of Hindus that lived in the area of Taron who maintained Hindu temples. The Hindus that numbered approximately 15,000 revolted against the forced conversion and they were defeated by the forces under the control of St. Gregory. Once the Hindus were defeated, St Gregory had their main temple and other shrines destroyed. On the ruins of their main temple which was dedicated to the worship of Rukmini and Krishna St. Gregory established the second most famous temple and monastery of ancient Armenia called Sourp Garabed (St. John the Baptist). It is here that he instituted the ceremony of matagh or sacrifice of animals. The following is a first hand account of British scholars who witnessed and chronicled the practice of animal sacrifice in traditional Armenia which was in the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th century.

    “I now pass on to report a few noticeable survivals of animal sacrifice amongst the Armenians.

    Mr. Croybeare, whose acquaintance with Armenian history and literature is of the first order, had advised me that such sacrifices were still extant amongst the Armenians, and I was interested to verify the matter for myself. In his Key of Truth, p.115, note 4, he tells us that ‘the custom of offering victims in church and eating their flesh continues in Armenia and Georgia until today.’ Thus Gregory of Datev, c. 1375, in his manual condemns the Mahometans because they refused to eat of the Armenian victims.”

    In the same work, p.134, note i., there is a long passage from Neres Shnorhali, born c. 1100, and Armenian Catholicos 1165, in defence of the custom of sacrificing animals in church in expiation of the sins of the dead. This sacrifice was called Matagh, and was said to be for the repose of the dead. If I understand Nerses rightly, the sacrifice was to take place at the door of the church, the body of the animal being divided in the following order: (i.) the priests, (ii.) the poor and needy, (iii.) the friends of the offerer.

    At Archag, not far to the east of Lake Van, I took the opportunity of inquiring from the priests of the village with regard to this custom. They readily admitted the fact; the sacrifice occurred at leading festivals such as Easter, but especially, if I understood rightly, on the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin. The victims were usually lambs. Their blood was poured out upon the ground and the meat given to the poor. The sacrifice was not, however, performed in the church, but outside. They also informed me it was done in remembrance of the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham!” (Notes from Armenia, p. 439 Folklore Vol XV no.1, March 25, 1904, Transactions of the Folklore Society, A Quarterly Review of Myth, Institutuion and Custom)

    Today, the Armenian Apostalic Orthodox Church continues the practice of animal sacrifice, which is explained on the official web page of the Armenian Church, The Catholicosate of All Armenians, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. They explain the meaning of Matagh performance as part of the church tradition.
    “Matagh, offering, is one of the traditions of the Armenian Church, its main meaning is giving a gift to God and giving alms to the poor.
    Matagh existed in Armenia as early as in the times of St. Gregory the Illuminator. After having converted King Trdat to Christianity, along with all his people, St. Gregory the Illuminator offered a thanksgiving sacrifice to God in the Church of St. John the Forerunner, in Taron, killing numerous animals and distributing them to the poor.
    Since ancient times the custom of offering sacrifice during great feasts, in the connection with the consecration of Churches or khatchkars (cross-stones), was practiced in the Armenian Church.
    Offering is carried out for different purposes:
    as gratitude to God for having saved the individual from misfortune or for granting health and well being,
    as plea for the peace of the souls of the deceased.
    One needs two elements for offering a sacrifice: an animal and salt. The animal must be male. It can be a cow, sheep, chicken or dove. When a cow is killed, its meat is distributed to 40 houses, a lamb, to 7 houses, a chicken, to 3 houses. The meat must not be left until the next day. If the sacrifice is a dove, it should be set free. First, the salt must be blessed. The salt is the element which purifies the matagh and makes it different from the pagan sacrifice. The meat is cooked only in salted water.
    The custom of the Armenian matagh is a profoundly humane, Christian custom, which gives an opportunity to the faithful to express their love towards God, show mercy by helping the poor.
    The origin of matagh comes from Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac and other patriarchs. Christ Himself during the Last Supper ate the meat of the Easter lamb, which is considered to be matagh, handed down by Prophet Moses.” (web page of the Armenian Church, The Catholicosate of All Armenians, the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin)

    The sacrifice of Matagh (animal sacrifice) is not actually a Christian practice. It has no relevance to the teaching of Jesus Christ. In fact, Christ stopped the practice of animal sacrifice as performed traditionally by the ancient Jews when He presented the bread and wine of the last Supper as the embodiment of His blood and flesh. He presented Himself as the lamb of sacrifice for all time which ended the Jewish practice and instituted a new covenant in which Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross would atone for the sins of all who put their faith in him.” (Matthew 26:28)

    We can see a pattern in modern religions or religions that have started in the last three thousand years from Judaism onward, including the modern form of the Vedic religion which is Hinduism, of deviation from the original teachings of the founders. Animal sacrifice or ritual killing of animals whether in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity has brought misfortune to those who insist on practicing it. Ritual sacrifice of animals (or animal slaughter for food) is not necessary in any of the religions. It is contrary to the principle of compassion and mercy which is inherent to all the religions. Yet, the priests of the different religions promote it for material gain and to satisfy the palate of meat eaters who would be reluctant to follow a vegetarian diet.


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  • There was a king who was instructed by a false teacher there is only oneness and no differentiation in the ultimate reality. Everything we perceive as individual and different is an illusion. All is one. I am you and you are me. We is thee and thee is us. There is no difference in oneness. There is only oneness and no duality.

    The king was impressed by the implication of this philosophy of oneness. When he spoke to his queen, he told her how much he was impressed by the philosophy of oneness. He could see its far reaching implications for his life. She asked what he meant by that. He said, “All is one. Therefore, I shall now take many wives because there is no difference between yourself and other women. All is one.”

    The queen was shocked and very upset by the king’s new philosophy. She called a wise man and asked if the idea of oneness that the king espoused was true or false. He said that there is oneness but the king’s explanation of it was wrong. He suggested that the queen first demonstrate to him that his supposed concept of oneness was wrong. Later, she could demonstrate the real concept of oneness. She asked how she could show the king that his idea of oneness was wrong. The wise man instructed her and she followed his advice.

    The next day the queen prepared a sumptuous lunch and invited the king and many honored guests including the false teacher that instructed her husband that all is one. She arranged for the false teacher to sit next to the king and she served them both all the preparations. She purposely served everything in precious china porcelain. As her teacher instructed her, one of the preparations was fresh cow dung from the royal herd of milk cows. When she served her husband and his false teacher, they both looked at the cow dung, smelled it and both recoiled in disgust. The cow dung was served in the same plate as the delectable preparations.

    The king rebuked his wife with harsh words. “Why have you served cow dung with such tasty food. This is nonsense!” She said calmly, “Dear husband, I have accepted your philosophy that all is one. If you see no difference between myself and any other woman, why should I see any difference between tasty food and cow dung. Please eat everything on your plate and demonstrate you believe your new philosophy.”

    She embarrassed the king and discredited his teacher’s philosophy in front of the many invited guests. The king suppressed his anger and left the dining hall without saying a word.

    He imprisoned the false teacher and later apologized to his wife who demonstrated that “all is one is all nonsense.”

    When the king and queen resumed their normal relationship and all was calm, the queen summoned her wise man and asked how to demonstrate the real concept of oneness. He began to describe an ancient history.

    There was and there wasn’t a poor man and his pious wife who was very beautiful. One day their spiritual teacher came to visit their village. The teacher had two disciples in the village: one was a rich merchant and the other the poor man. The teacher traveled with a large group of disciples. He sent two disciples to the rich man’s house so that he could arrange dinner and lodging for his group. The rich man was so thrilled at receiving the good news that he immediately began to make preparations for the teacher’s arrival. But, he forgot to properly receive the two disciples who were ignored and left feeling that they were slighted.

    The two disciples reported back to the teacher that they were denied proper respect at the home of the rich man. The teacher decided to visit his poor disciple and accept whatever he could offer his entourage. The large group arrived at the humble dwelling of the poor disciple. The teacher knocked on the door of the entrance. The poor man was not at home. His wife was taking a bath and the only ragged cloth she had for a dress was hanging in the back yard to dry. She called out, “Who is it?” The teacher answered. She explained that her only dress was hanging out to dry. He threw a shawl into her room. She wrapped herself in the shawl and came out to greet the teacher. He asked the woman if she could feed his large group. “Yes, of course, I consider such a service a great blessing.”

    She offered fresh water from her well and directed the entire group where they could bathe and relax while she prepared their lunch. She knew very well that there was no money or food to feed anyone and her husband was not at home. He was out trying to beg for food. The young wife decided to she the local grocer who had often tried to take advantage of her knowing that she was very poor. She hurried to see him and made a proposal that he supply whatever she needed for her teacher and his companions and she would come to him in the night and satisfy his desires. He was thrilled that she was finally yielding to his advances. She arranged to deliver everything she asked for immediately.

    She cooked a marvelous feast for her honored guests. After, they were all fed to their satisfaction, her husband came home and was thrilled to see his holy teacher. But, he was confounded as to how his wife fed everyone such a grand feast. Later, his wife explained what she agreed to do for the food. Her husband was not upset because he could understand that she was ready to sacrifice everything to please the teacher and thus serve God’s servant. He told her that they should explain everything to the teacher as he would certainly forgive her and perhaps find a way to save her honor.

    They humbly approached the teacher and gently explained their predicament. He understood. He said, “My child, you are faithful wife and completely chaste. Unfortunately there are lusty men in this world that are anxious to take advantage of innocent women like you. I suggest you take a plate of this sanctified food that remains from my plate and offer it the grocer with the words, ‘My teacher asked me to bring you this holy food. Please partake of it and be blessed.’ ”

    The husband and wife proceeded to the grocer’s house and presented him with the holy food. The woman entered his house and gave him the plate and repeated the teacher’s words. The grocer was surprised. He asked if she came alone. She said her husband was waiting outside. The grocer looked at her hesitatingly. He asked her to call her husband inside. While tasting the food, the grocer felt a strange feeling of being blessed. When he finished the delicious meal, he looked at the husband and wife and began to apologize. In fact, he fell on his knees and begged them to forgive him.

    The husband and wife were genuinely amazed at the sudden transformation of the grocer. They attributed it to the teacher’s holy blessing that came with the food. The grocer asked then if they would introduce him to the teacher. They went together back to the poor man’s home and sat at the feet of the teacher, who was pleased to see the grocer. The holy teacher spoke about the power of chastity of a woman and how God blesses such a woman who is faithful to God, her husband and holy teachers. He explained how fortunate the grocer is to have been engaged in helping the woman serve holy persons. Due to her offering the grocer’s food to God and his holy representatives, the grocer had become purified of his nasty mentality and repented his sinful lust for the chaste woman..

    The grocer had real tears of repentance and joy hearing the kind words of the teacher. He begged the teacher to accept him as a disciple and continue to teach him to stay on the path of virtue.

    The wise man finished his story. He added a few words to make sure the queen understood. He said, “Real oneness is realized by first understanding that we are all eternal individuals and that God is the Supreme Individual. If the members of a family remain loyal to the father and work cooperatively, there is oneness among all the individuals of the family. They work cooperatively to please the father and maintain the stability and welfare of the family. They are benefited by their oneness of purpose.
    Similarly, when we serve God cooperatively by following His instructions, we become one with God and still maintain our individuality eternally. We enter into a relationship of love and devotion to the unique God. That relationship of oneness of purpose by serving the instructions of God unites us in the family of God. This is real oneness.”

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  • “All my sins I once amassed
    And sat down before them weeping.
    When the caravan went past
    With my load I followed, leaping.
    Then an angel that we met,
    ‘Woeful pilgrim, whither farest?
    Thou wilt there no lodging get
    With that burden that thou bearest.’”

    The devil is only as strong as we are spiritually weak. Due to our sinful tendency we become vulnerable to the temptations of the devil. As the temptations increase our resolve to avoid them decreases and we succumb. This is due to not having positive spiritual engagement and the good company of spiritually striving friends. Bad association of materially inclined persons, and materialistic culture of music, literature, television, movies, internet, magazines, talk, philosophy and any other means of communication that glorifies materialism incites one to selfish gratification. This puts one in a frame of mind susceptible to fall prey to the devil’s temptations.

    The devil succeeds when we are unable to control our passions. We have a window of opportunity to be self-disciplined. Before any action there are three stages of thinking feeling and willing that take place. The determination to act matures when we will (or make a determination) that we must act in a certain way in order to be happy. Such a decision of will leads us to act. Therefore, culture and education can help one to stop the downward spiral of irresponsible action by learning to think, feel and will correctly. This is done by first understanding what the goal of life is and then planning one’s life and activity and choices to reach that goal. Anything that may subvert one’s attempts to reach the real goal of life can be excluded by a discerning person trained in self-control.

    There was once a woman named Hasmik and her son, Ara who has three years old.. They were the last survivors of a great tragedy. Hasmik’s brothers, sisters and parents had all died mysteriously in their ancestral home during a short period of three months. There was no rational explanation for the deaths. There were rumors that the house was haunted by a devilish ghost. But, no one ever saw the devil phantom so it remained a rumor.

    Hasmik and Ara left their ancestral home broken-hearted. They had no choice. Hasmik did not want to lose Ara. They stayed far away for fourteen years. One day Ara asked his mother if they had if they had a home far away. His friends had told him they heard that Hasmik had run away from her ancestral home and village with Ara. Hasmik sadly said, “Yes, my son.”

    “Why mother, why did you run away from our village? What happened to my father and other family members?” asked Ara.

    Hasmik told Ara the story of the mysterious deaths of their family members in their old home.

    “Eight members of our family died in a short period of three months. Your grand parents, father, uncle and auntie their daughter and your two brothers all died. It was horrible. I was so afraid that you would also die, so I left and I am glad because you have lived.”

    “But mother,” said Ara, “I want to return to our home. I am grown now and I can protect you. Let us go back where we belong and live where our forefathers lived.”

    The discussion went on for several days until Hasmik reluctantly agreed. When they returned, Hasmik began to serve an extra plate food that she left on a special table for the devil. She was so fearful he would kill her son if she didn’t serve him. Her specialty preparation was delicious dolma. Ara was perplexed by his mother’s superstition and fear.

    Hasmik made varieties of delicious dolmas: with grape leaves, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cabbage and more. She had picked the grape leaves six months ago and kept them in brine. They smelled so good after they were cooked. When Ara tasted them dipped in fresh yogurt, his mouth watered with the mixture of sweet, sour and salty tastes with olive oil. One day, when his mother stepped out of the room to get something from the kitchen, Ara ate all the dolmas on the devil’s plate.

    When Hasmik came back, she immediately saw that the devil’s plate was empty. She looked at Ara with fear in her eyes.

    “Ara, what have you done!” she said. “You will have us both killed by the devil.”

    “Why mother. The devil cannot kill us,” said Ara.

    “You don’t understand my son. The devil killed eight of our family members. He can easily kill us. I don’t know what to do now. You have eaten his food. May God, save us,”
    said Hasmik.

    “Mother, you go to sleep and do not worry. I’ll talk to the devil when he comes. I am not afraid of him.” said Ara. The young man waited for the arrival of the devil. He finally came after midnight. Ara said, “Who are you. Are you the devil?”

    “Young man, I am the devil who was the business associate of your grand father. He and your uncle lied to me and cheated me for the benefit of your family. Therefore, I avenged myself by killing him and other members of the family. I see you are like your grand father, so I may also kill you.” Ara looked closely at the devil and asked, “How powerful are you?”

    The devil said, “I am very powerful. I killed your family just like you kill little bugs. I could have killed your mother but she was not greedy and often did little good deeds. Since she is feeding me delicious dolmas now, I will spare her and you. I am so powerful that I can travel at will to heaven and hell. I can’t enter heaven but I can go to the door and speak to God. But, where are my dolmas? Did you eat them? My plate is empty.”

    Ara quickly answered, “Mother is making them as we speak. Please be patient. By the way, can you do me a favor.”

    The devil looked at the impertinent boy. “What is it.” he said. Since you can talk to God, please ask him how long I will live. Please do that for me and I’ll make sure you get extra dolmas on your quick return.” “What do you want to ask,” said the devil.

    “Please ask God how long I will live on this earth.”

    “I’ll do that for you, but make sure I get the extra dolmas. I’ll be back in a short while, perhaps 2 hours.”

    The boy pushed his Mom to make more delicious dolmas. He impatiently waited for the devil to return. It was not long before the devil returned with the news. “God said you will live to be 60 years old.”

    “Thank you so much,” said Ara. “Please eat your dolmas.” The devil ate the many varieties of dolma avariciously. The mother included different kinds of sour and sweet pickles, fresh yogurt, and warm bread, olives and hot chillies and fresh goat’s cheese. When the devil finished, Ara asked, “Now please do me one more favor, dear sir. Ask God if He could make me die at fifty instead of 60 years old; or, if that is not possible, let him extend my life to one hundred years.” Finishing the dolmas and other condiments, the devil was very pleased. He replied to the boy, “Very well,” said the devil.

    The next day, the devil returned with the answer. He said, “God answered it is impossible to extend your life one day more or less than what you are destined. What is ordained by God is destined to happen as scheduled.” The boy was now convinced about his belief that God is the supreme authority and not the devil. He grabbed a burning log from the fire place and began to beat the devil. “Get out of the house and never return in the name of God,” he screamed.

    Ara comforted Hasmik who was distraught with fright after witnessing what happened. “Mother,” he said, “the devil can do nothing to us. He cannot take us one day earlier or later than what we are destined by our own acts. Unfortunately, my grand parents and uncle and auntie and father and others were stained by the sin of cheating in business. But we have lived a clean life and have been spared by our good works. The devil and all others are not our enemy. Only our foolish acts that violate God’s will bring misfortune and suffering in our lives. Let us worship God and lead a life free of sin. We have nothing to fear.”

    When I atone my sins of past
    With pious acts and holy fasts
    Then my God of mercy will see
    My heart free of perversity

    Dear God Almighty bear with me
    Through my foolishness and folly
    Light my darkness, guide my ways
    I may ever accept your grace

    Harry Terhanian (b.1946)

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  • There was once a poor man who tolerated his fate because he had a heart of love. He was able to offer his love to his family and friends. They in turn reciprocated his love. To nurture his loving heart, he prayed often to God and meditated on the lives of saints who sacrificed everything for God and for the welfare of mankind. His thoughts returned often to Christ’s words,

    “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 KJV)

    These words of the Lord were the inspiration of his life. He could not imagine living any other way than by sharing his love of God with whoever he encountered. Yet, sometimes he would think how nice it would be if he was not so poor. He imagined that he could do so much more good to others if he had wealth to distribute in charity.

    He often took walks in the forest. Once he met an old man in the forest who offered him a means to gain great wealth. The old man said, “You can become very wealthy and help so many people if you agree to my proposal.”

    “What is that?” said the poor man.

    “If you permit, we can change hearts. You give me your heart of love and poverty and I’ll give you my heart of stone and unlimited wealth,” said the old man.

    “How can a heart of stone maintain my life?” said the poor man.

    “My heart of stone functions as good as a heart of flesh, said the old man. It is a miraculous pump that will last longer than your heart.”

    The poor man thought deeply about the offer. He reasoned that even if he had a heart of stone, he would be able to share his new found wealth and help many others by charity. He agreed to the proposal.The old man caste a hypnotic spell on the poor man. When the poor man revived from the spell, he no longer had a heart of love, but one of stone.

    On his return home, he had an uncanny ability to make money. Soon he became rich and prominent. He was so busy that he no longer had time to think about God nor engage in God’s service. Sometimes he became very angry when he was not successful in money matters. During his fits of anger, he became very harsh and insensitive and soon alienated his own family and friends. His mind was consumed with his own self importance. He disdained people who were not cleaver in making money and he was envious of those who were more successful than himself.

    When he had a heart of love, he never entertained such nasty thoughts. He was able to control his anger and he never felt envy. Now, he was chasing after money, power, reputation, position and pleasures of the senses so much that he was missing the endearing moments of shared love that he knew before. He was excited about acquiring money, but starved for love.

    He came to realize that life without love for God and fellow man was a curse that left one empty. His quest for money and power crippled his ability to love. He yearned for his heart of love whose richness was much more satisfying than mere riches gained by stone-hearted decisions that often deprived others for his own benefit.

    He was no longer able to pray to God as he did before nor feel empathy for others. He longed to have his heart of love again which he realized was more valuable than all the money in the world.

    One day he ventured into a church during a sermon. He sat down and listened to the priest retell the story of the rich man who approached Jesus and asked if he could also enter the kingdom of God. Jesus told him,

    17 “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and knelt to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why call thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

    19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

    22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

    23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
    (Mark 10:17-25)

    The stone-hearted rich man prayed to God to give him the strength to follow the advice of Jesus. He became determined to give away his wealth, which he did gradually. As he distributed his wealth, his heart of stone transformed back to a heart of love.

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  • Ahganchehn mehgehn guh mudneh mouessehn gehleh

    There was and there wasn’t a merchant who had a milling shop. He ground wheat and other grains into flour and sold them everyday to his customers. His name was Mardiros.

    Mardiros was fond of attending church on Sundays. He would light one candle for each of his deceased grandmother and grandfather, one for his sick mother and father and one for everyone else that he cared for and loved. He enjoyed hearing the Der Hayr’s (priest’s) sermon. When Mardiros’s son became sixteen, he encouraged the boy to accompany him on his Sunday ritual of lighting the many candles and especially hearing the sermon as well as the liturgy.

    One Sunday the Der Hayr gave a spirited sermon on charity and kindness. He emphasized the importance of doing good deeds, never hurting anyone’s feelings nor harm or harshly treat people or animals. He said that charity should never be looked upon as a loss, but a gain of God’s attention and surely His grace. Good deeds are never forgotten by God Almighty. The Bible teaches that one should give what is asked of you and even more than what is required. The Der Hayr read, “I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you accepted me in your house. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me. I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matthew 25: 34-36)

    The Der Hayr ended the sermon with his most impassioned statement, “Make God your highest priority, and He will take care of all your needs.” Amen.

    The young boy was so impressed with the Der Hayr’s words. They lingered in his mind. He felt inspired to put them into action. When he opened his father’s grain mill shop the next day and set up the sacks of fresh ground flour for sale outside the entrance of the shop, a stray cow meandered close to the new grain bags and started to eat some of the course ground flour. The boy remembered the Der Hayr’s words. He thought, “I should get a stick and chase the cow away. But, the poor creature needs to eat just like we humans do. After all, she is hungry and needs to eat something to stay alive. She won’t eat much. Just what she needs and she’ll leave. Just then, his father came and saw the cow eating from one of the open sacks. He began to shout and chased the cow away.

    “Why didn’t you chase that old cow away, boy? said the father.

    “I wanted to, but I remembered the sermon of the Der Hayr,” said the boy.

    “What do you mean by that?”

    “Well, I listened to his sermon on Sunday. He said we should always be kind and freely give in charity to everyone and even to animals. He said God is pleased by charity.”

    “Have you gone crazy, boy? I have been going to church every Sunday for forty years. I light candles for my loved one and listen to the sermon. But, I never remember anything because the Der Hayr’s words go in one ear and out the other. If I remember his words, I would have gone bankrupt many years ago. From now on you do like me. Just let his words go in one ear and out the other and you’ll be able to take over my business and make money for the family.”

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  • There was once a man who could talk with God. He asked God, “O Almighty Lord, You are all-powerful. You can do anything you wish. Everyone must bow to Your will. All around me I see misery and pain. There seems to be no end to it. Most people I know have a period of happiness and then adverse events happen and they often sink into a state of despair. They struggle to make things right, but the power of nature and time always prevails. They live in a constant state of anxiety about the future. At any time, their life is subject to trouble and tragedy.

    Lord, please be merciful to humanity. Why not liberate everyone from the cycle of birth and death? Take all of us back to Your eternal abode where we can enjoy eternal life without any suffering? God smiled and said, “My dear friend, even if I asked everyone to leave this world of sickness, old age and death, they would not agree. They actually desire to stay here and struggle.”

    “How can that be possible? I cannot believe that! How do I know You are right?”

    “Friend, go and ask the people yourself. You can see for yourself.”

    God’s friend set out to meet people and reassure them that God will immediately take them to heaven if they want and free them from birth and death. The first person he met was an old man who was living with his children, grandchildren and his first to be great grandchild. God’s friend spoke to him sincerely about attaining immediate salvation from the miseries of life. He seemed interested at first. As they talked the grandchildren came to sit on his lap and talk to him. He became preoccupied with his adorable family. Soon he dismissed God’s friend because it was his time to play with the children.

    God’s friend was astonished that the old man was not at all interested in salvation. He continued his search until he met a drunkard sitting piteously on the sidewalk. He spoke to the man and said, “Sir, if you continue drinking you will go to hell. Stop wasting your life drinking and come with me. I’ll take you to God and He will immediately free you to enjoy eternal life.

    The drunk said, “My father was a drinker. Is he in hell now? God’s friend said, “Yes.”

    “And my mother and brothers also were drinkers. Are they too?”


    “And my uncle and aunties and cousins?”


    “Well then,” said the drunk. “It can’t be that bad if all my relatives are there. I’ll go and join them and continue the party.” The drunk began to laugh and sing a song about drinking with friends and family.

    God’s friend was shocked. He sadly walked on trying to find someone to accept God’s salvation. He encountered a sad woman whose husband had left her. She had two children. She worked during the day while her children attended school. Her life was a constant challenge balancing between work and taking care of her children. She had no time to think of anything else. God’s friend tried to talk to her about immediate salvation. Her only comment was, “If God is really interested in me, then let Him come here and help me pay my bills.” She was so involved in her day to day struggle to maintain her children that she couldn’t imagine any way to free herself.

    God’s friend felt frustrated. He couldn’t understand why people were not interested in putting a end to their suffering. Walking on, he met a talking pig. He thought, “Surely this miserable creature will accept God’s magnanimous offer.” He said,

    Pig, my friend, there is another world above this one that is free of suffering. Come with me and I’ll introduce you to God. He will free you eternally from your miseries.”

    “Can I sleep in the mud and eat garbage and people’s stool in heaven?” asked the pig.

    “No,” said God’s friend. “There are no nasty things there. But you can eat wonderful food food in heaven that is fresh and smells good and sleep on soft grass.” The pig looked at him with a puzzled look.

    The pig asked, “Can I continue to father many children like I do here?”

    “No. Everyone is eternal. There is no need to father children there.”

    The pig became impatient and said, “Why are you wasting my time talking about heaven. I am in heaven now eating tasty stools and fathering as many piglets as I wish. Go away. I don’t want to go to your heaven.”

    God’s friend realized that nearly all people in this world of misery were deluded by temporary pleasures and incapable of understanding their state of misery. How then can they understand the eternal world where there is no suffering. How can they understand the happiness of eternal life with God?

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  • Once a handsome young man fell in love with a king’s daughter.
    She was also madly enamored of the young man. The princess
    begged her father to announce publicly that whatever her beloved, whose name was Haik, desired he should be allowed to take from the shops of the capital. Her father would pay the shopkeepers from his treasury. The king agreed and ordered his town criers to make the announcement.

    The shopkeepers were all anxious for Haik to take merchandise from them. For his part, Haik had absolutely no longing for any merchandise regardless of its value. He was consumed with his longing and deep love for the princess. He remained in a state of contemplation and ignored the criers announcement.

    However, every greedy person in the city took advantage of the announcement and pretended that they were named Haik. Hundreds of Haiks took merchandise from the shops. The merchants informed the king that many hundreds of men presented themselves as named Haik and took merchandise. They asked, “Will the king honor his word and reimburse them?”

    The king was perplexed. He summoned his daughter and explained the fraud perpetrated by hundreds of greedy men calling themselves Haik. He was upset. “What do you suggest I do?” said the king. His daughter reassured him that she would quickly dissipate the confusion and fraud. She requested her father to entrust to her a detachment of his fiercest soldiers with an experienced commander.

    She instructed the commander to send his troops to every part of the royal city preceded by town criers and drummers to announce that tomorrow the princess will go throughout the city and have her beloved Haik stabbed to death by the soldiers and the merchandise seized.

    When the announcement was made, all the merchandise was returned by the next day, the false Haiks recanted the name and only the one true Haik remained. He won the love of the princess by proving his only interest was her love and not any merchandise.

    A true lover does not seek to gain anything but the beloved.

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