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Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • 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.

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  • There was once a beggar who went from village to village to ask for alms. There was one village where the people were very generous. When someone gave him food or a few coins he would say “May you receive what you have given.” Everyone liked this phrase and they were always pleased to see him once a month.

    In this village there were two brothers who were merchants. Their business requirements took them frequently away from home. Their wives were often lonely. They began to secretly receive men of the village in their homes for entertainment. The beggar would make the rounds of the village. He also stopped in front of the two wives’ houses. When they gave him alms, he would say “May you receive what you have given.” The two wives, who were paranoid about their husbands’ finding out about their activities, became suspicious of the beggar. They imagined that he was hinting to them that he knew about their infidelity to their husbands.

    “I am suspicious of that beggar,” said one one wife. “I think he knows about our cheating on our husbands and is going to tell them about us.”

    “Why does he always repeat the same thing every time we give him alms,” said the other wife. “He must know something that will be our undoing. We must get rid of him.”

    One day the two wives decided to cook some sweet cakes (gateh) and lace them with poison. They made the sweet breads smell delicious and decorated them. When they saw the beggar, they gave him the two sweet breads. He thanked them heartily and said, “May you receive what you have given.” The two evil wives thought, “We shall see what you will receive.”

    The same day, the husbands of the wives were returning home after their long journey selling their wares. The beggar had decided to try and sell the two sweet breads since they were so decoratively made. He was hawking the breads as the husbands approached him on the road. They both looked at the beggar who was calling out loud, “Sweet gateh (sweet bread) from heaven made by two chaste ladies.” The brothers were intrigued because they had not eaten sweet bread since they had left on their journey. They stopped and examined the sweet breads which were warm and smelled fresh and savory. They gave the beggar some coins and left eating the bread.

    When they reached their homes, they were both feeling very ill and panting for breath. Their wives called a local healer who examined the men and said they had been poisoned. He gave them both
    purgatives, flushed their stomachs with emetics, and said his incantations for healing. Miraculously, the brothers were saved from death. The next day, the healer asked them what they ate or ingested the previous day. They could only think of the sweet bread they purchased from the beggar. The beggar was summoned and asked why he poisoned the two breads. He swore he had not poisoned the bread. He explained how he was called by the two wives who gave him fresh, sweet bread.

    The wives were questioned. At first, they denied any wrong doing. The healer and the husbands were persistent. Some the the wives of the men who were visiting the wives secretly and who were suspicious of the merchant’s wives also came and spoke privately with the merchants. The two evil wives finally admitted the truth and their unfaithfulness revealed.

    The ditch-digger falls into his own ditch. Don’t do evil deeds to others so that evil will not be done to you.

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