Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • ahntzrehvuh eench ahni kahreen, kuhraduh eench ahnee chahreen

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  • ahntzuhrevuh ihnch ohkoud guhneh kahreen, khuhraduh chahreen
    What good is the rain for the rock, or good advice for the evil (persons)

    ehsheen talanuh vohsgee ahrah, ehshsuh eli (nohren) ehshseh
    Even if you buy a golden saddle for your donkey, it is still a donkey

    kahrozuh khouleen chee ahztee, ahntzuhrevuh kahreen
    The sermon doesn’t influence the deaf, nor the rain the rock

    gahmeer gohvuh gahseen chee pohkheh
    the red cow doesn’t change its skin (color)

    There is a story of the bird that tried to advice a monkey. In a forest their lived a family of monkeys. On a cold day, the monkeys saw a firefly that they thought was a fire. They tried to start a fire by placing dried straw and twigs near the firefly and blowing on the fly to ignite the dry straw. They imagined that it caught fire and they began to warm themselves by warming their hands and rubbing their bodies with the imagined waves of warmth. One monkey concentrated on blowing on the firefly to keep the fire going.

    A bird observed this strange scene. It tried to instruct the monkey blowing on the firefly,
    “Friend, you are wasting your time. You are not blowing on a spark of real fire. It is only a firefly”
    The monkey ignored the bird’s advice and continued to blow in the firefly. The bird tried repeatedly to convince the monkey to desist in his futile efforts by coming closer to the monkey’s ear. The monkey became annoyed by the bird’s persistence. He grabbed the bird and crushed its head against a rock. Thus it is said, “What good is the rain for a rock, or good advice for the wicked (fool).

    What good is learning for men of low class,
    Who chose to be lazy, foolish, and crass
    Preacher’s sermon for the deaf is not heard
    Nor evil fools ever touched by the word

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  • Good advice- khuhrahdagan

    Those who pine to overeat, have sex and sleep
    Will remain in ignorance like blind sheep
    Better listen the wisdom of the wise
    It’ll awaken you to self realize

    ov gouzeh meeahyn oudelh, bahrgehl ou hahjouk marrmeenee
    gourhree bes unkhelk, baddrahnkee metch guh dahrabee

    ayhn vor eemasdoun eh, ousheem khosk guh luhseh
    vor giankeen shidak jahmpahn meesht hedeveh

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  • hahrtznehlov Baghdad gehrtass

    For people living in Armenia, Baghdad was a synonym for the most distant place or literally the end of the world. Even a difficult task like traveling to the most distant place is accomplished by one who asks advise and pertinent questions.

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  • hahrtzoghuh guhlah keedtzoghuh

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  • Ays khosgheruh ahganchit ogh togh ehllah

    Remembering words of wisdom that can guide you at moments of difficulty is a great blessing.

    Once upon a time there was a poor family: father, mother, and new born child. When the boy was seven years old, his father died. With the help of family cousins, the mother worked hard and long hours each day. She was able to barely make ends meet to maintain her home and feed her child.

    On reaching eighteen years old, the young man told his mother, “I have decided to leave my village, go far away and earn money so that I can free you, my dear mother, from the ordeal of working so hard to make a living. His mother asked the advice of relatives about her son’s plan. They counseled her that traveling to foreign lands is full of dangers. In the big cities of foreign lands there are beautiful woman of questionable character. Her son lacks experience in such matters. He could easily be misled, cheated and put into illusion. It would be preferable to (vodkuh gabenk meaning literally tie his feet) tie him up with responsibility (marriage and family) before he leaves the village. Then (ahckuh yedeven uhllah” his eyes look backwards, he will he proceed on his journey very cautiously and avoid spending his money on useless things and loose women. His family obligation will oblige him to send his earned money home little by little and then return after a few years.

    The mother and her trusted cousins began to inquire about marriageable girls in their town. They found a thirteen year old girl of a respectable family. They arranged the engagement and later the marriage. After some time the young man readied himself for the voyage. Before leaving, his mother arranged that he speak with a wise village elder who could give him good (khuhrad) wisdom to offset his inexperience of the outside world and prepare him for the travails of the journey. The wise man blessed the young man and gave him three important gems of wisdom that follow.

    “Only place your hope in God, don’t hope for anything from any man even if such a person is a king of men. Always say Takavoratz takavoruh togh dah - the king can only give what God has given him.”

    “Sirdhee sirahdzen eh keghetsik - The woman a man cherishes in his heart is beautiful, or beautiful is the woman that a man loves.”

    “Hamperoutioun giyank eh - Patience is life, or patience will preserve life.

    The mother prepared enough dry food to last the boy two months and prepared a backpack. She gave him the following wise counsel. “My dear son, the world is full of nasty people (ahskharuh char martotz lehtzounneh). Always travel with merchant caravans, never go alone. While traveling, try to find good friends (ashkhadeh vor lahv uhngher jahrhes). Whenever the caravan stops for the night, take a whole loaf of bread from your backpack and give to a new found acquaintance and ask him to break it in half. If he gives you the smaller half, stay away from such a person. If, however, he gives you the bigger piece, then always stay near him and become good friends.”

    Two weeks after his marriage the young man was ready to leave.

    He traveled far and wide and tested many acquaintances on his journey until he found two trustworthy friends who always gave the greater half of bread when they broke it in two pieces. His new friends were also born into poor families and decided to travel to foreign places from their villages to earn money and send it back to their families. The three friends finally reached Constantinople where they decided to stay and find their fortunes.

    The three decided to share equally all their resources now and in the future, live together and return to their respective villages together when they achieved their mutual goal.

    But fortune did not smile on them. Constantinople was in an economic downturn. The three boys were not able to find steady work. One would find work for a week while the others tried in vain. The one meager salary hardly provided enough for their spartan food. They struggled just to make ends meet. “Ghiankuh chehr shenk-snorkuh, ayl koyoutioun kashkuhshouk - life was not built on a firm foundation (shenk snork means a good building - it implies a proper life), but existence was unsteady and full of reverses (kashkuhshouk implies pushing and pulling or very unsteady).” They were not able to make a decent living even with their pooled resources. What to speak of sending money home, or saving money to return home.

    Finding themselves in such difficult times, the three young men cut off any correspondence with their families. What could they write except depressing news and how could they write without including some money as they promised? Many years rolled by in such hopeless desperation.

    One day the king of Constantinople and his vizier (chief adviser) decided to go through the streets of his capital disguised to hear firsthand what his subjects thought about his management of the kingdom, how they were coping with the economic depression, and what plans they might have for improving their fate.

    That day, all three young men were without work. They stayed in their gloomy, bare room, sitting on their floor mattresses talking about their misfortunes, plans, and hopes for the future. They were not sleepy, rather they had very animated discussions (dak dak guh veehjayeen), exchanging ideas, and fantasizing dreams.

    The king and his vizier saw the dim light of the men’s room. They decided to approach the room and stood near the open window. The king listened attentively (ahganchneruh laretz - literally he pointed his ears) to the three men. He quickly understood that the three men were unfortunate and lived together in a small room. Their conversation was hotly animated (dak-dak guh khoseheen) on a variety of subjects from mountains to valleys (saren-tzoren), here and there (ahsteenen-anteenen). The king found their topics of discussion fascinating and enjoyed listening.

    Suddenly, one of the young men changed the topic of discussion. He wanted each of them to make a statement of how they desired to see their personal fortune prosper. He said, “Friends, we’re talking about useless things. There is no way we can save ourselves from these terrible circumstances. I see only one way to get us out of this morass. If the King of this country has any brains, he’ll call me tomorrow to his palace, ready to authorize me with his royal insignia, and with a signed royal decree designating me as the royal tax collector for the entire state in which my village is. Every year I will collect the taxes (which were supposed to be a flat tax of 10% of income). With the royal salary I’ll live easily and prosperously (arok- parok) and maintain my family. What do you desire?” he said turning to one of his friends.

    The second man directed his wishes to the first.

    “Friend, why should I trouble my head (khlough tzav ehnem) collecting 10% tax from reluctant taxpayers, who will certainly be resentful, argumentative, and even go to court for a relief judgment (thad-thadasdannerov). If the King has any brains at all he’ll call me to his palace, fill up a large chest with gold and give it to me. I’ll return to my village, eat like a king, and enjoy family life.” Both men turned and looked at the third to ask him what he desired.

    The third man, whose mother and the wise man had advised, remembered the three instructions and abruptly said, “Who does the King think he is! He then uttered unspeakable curse words that insulted the King and his entire dynasty. In a loud and angry tone he concluded, “Takavoratz takavoruh togh dah - The king can only give what the heavenly King (God) gives him.”

    The king didn’t expect such an insult from the third man. He quickly left with his vizier for the palace deep in thought about what he heard.

    Early the next morning, two soldiers sent by the king came to respectfully summon the three men to the king’s palace. They were ushered into the king’s private meeting chambers. The vizier was also present. The king slowly asked the three their names, the addresses of their families in their respective states and cities of his kingdom. The king next ordered the boys to reveal the wishes they expressed the night before in their room. He added that lying would not serve them as the king and his vizier heard everything they spoke from their open window.

    The boys realized that lying was useless and would be very dangerous. They began one by one to tell their history and desires.

    The first man, after explaining the troubles he underwent and his bad luck, revealed his heartfelt hope for blessings from the king. The king hearing his desire officially designated him to become the royal tax collector in his home state. He immediately summoned his minister of taxes and ordered him to draw up a decree with the royal stamp and with his signature designating the man as the royal tax collector assigned to the youth’s home state. A wooden board with an official insignia was made for the youth to establish in his future office. The king addressed the youth saying, “Now, my dear son, go in peace and live life to the fullest.”

    The second man, amazed by what he just witnessed, repeated what he had said the night before.

    The king called his chief treasurer and ordered him to fill a large treasure chest with gold. In a few minutes, a slave brought a heavy chest full of gold to the assembly. The king ordered the slave to leave the chest in front of the second man and addressed him with affection: “Here is your treasure, my dear son. Now you can go in peace and enjoy your life.”

    The third man was now summoned to speak before the king. He avoided cursing the king as he did the night before, but with trepidation he said, “Oh honorable king, you can only give what the king of heaven has given you.”

    Without showing the slightest agitation, the king answered the youth in a deep, slow voice, “Go my son, be satisfied with the saying, ‘The king can only give what the heavenly King has given him.’”

    The three men left the palace and walked toward the heavy gate toward the great wall surrounding the palace. The first man had the royal commission declaring him to be the tax collector held tightly to his breast. The second carried the heavy chest full of gold. The third had his hands empty and his arms loosely waving back and forth at his sides as he walked. They proceeded to the palace’s outer wall where there was an exit.

    The distance was long because there was a large palace garden separating the palace from the outer walls. The man with the heavy chest laden with gold became tired. He addressed his friend with the empty hands.

    Dear friend, you know we three have made a brotherly vow to share our acquired wealth evenly. You also have a right to a share of my wealth in gold. So please you carry this chest for a time as it is very heavy for me.

    Very well said the man who believed the king can only give what the heavenly King has given him. He took the heavy chest and carried it to relieve his friend.

    When they reached the exit door of the palace, there were several armed guards waiting for them. The king had ordered that they cut off the head of the man whose hands were empty. Accordingly, without making any inquiries, they grabbed the man whose hands were empty, although he was the one the king blessed with the chest of gold. They led him away without any explanation and cut off his head.

    The remaining two men witnessed this horror, but were not able to do anything to save their friend. With saddened hearts they returned to their modest hotel room, gathered their meager belongings and began their journey back to their homeland.

    It was now twenty years since they left their villages and cut off their communication with their families.

    They joined a large caravan that left Constantinople and headed for their homeland.

    (Shad katzeen, keytch katzeen which literally means they went far and didn’t go far or more exactly, they went far and wide) They went far and wide, they finally came to a stop in a desert area where they found a lonely well that they tried to draw water from to quench the thirst of the travelers and their donkeys.

    The caravan leader was surprised when he repeatedly lowered the water bucket into the well and heard it drop into the water and fill up. When, however, he pulled the water bucket seemingly laden with water to the surface, it always came back empty.

    This exercise in futility continued for an hour. The caravan leader ordered one of his servants to be lowered into the well. The servant was tied with a rope and slowly lowered into the well to find out the mystery why the bucket always came up empty.

    An hour’s time elapsed but (tzayn tzoun chehlav ahngeh) no sound, only deep silence remained in the well, nor was there any sign such as pulling on the rope by the servant to be raised up again to the surface.

    Another servant was lowered into the well, but he also seemed to suffer the same fate as his predecessor.

    The caravan leader concluded in his mind “Ayees degh kahghneek muh gah - there is a hidden mystery here.” The caravan could not proceed without sufficient water. As there were no more servants left that the caravan leader could order to go down into the well, it was necessary for some brave soul to voluntarily be lowered into the well and find out why the bucket kept coming up empty.

    The man who was endowed by the king to collect taxes stepped forward and bravely volunteered to be lowered into the well. Before entering the well, he called the caravan leader and his friend who believed that the king can only give what the heavenly king has given him. He asked the caravan leader to witness his sincere desire. He said, “My dear friend, we two have made a solemn vow to share in a brotherly way any acquired wealth. Therefore, with my free will, I transfer to you the royal mandate empowering me to collect taxes on behalf of the king. I trust that if I return safe and sound, you will give me back my rights, however, if I don’t return, then (Halal ouh khosh - this is a Turkish benedictory phrase meaning literally pure and pleasurable - with my heartfelt blessings for your happiness may you have this royal mandate.”

    He was lowered into the well. After one hour there was no sign of life from him.

    One after another of the travelers were lowered into the well to no avail. Finally, it was the turn of the boy who believed that the king can only give what he has received from the heavenly King. When he was lowered into the well he noticed, as he approached the bottom, that there were shelves containing the belongings of the previous men who were lowered. Then he saw a most horrifying sight. There was a man-eating monster holding a bloodied sword with a very pretty fair-skinned lady standing on one side of him and on the other, a dark skinned ugly woman. The monster addressed him in a soft voice.

    “Son of man, answer my question, which of these two girls is the most beautiful?”

    The man, remembering the second advice given to him by the village elder, replied without hesitation, “Beautiful is the woman that a man loves.” His answer was accepted by the monster. The mystery of the well was brought to light. The previous men, who were lowered into the well, all answered that the fair-skinned lady was the most beautiful. They were all murdered and eaten by the monster.

    The monster addressed the youth. “You have seemingly been advised by a wise elder. Otherwise you would have replied as the others. Is this true? “Yes sir, a village elder gave me advice that I have always remembered these last twenty years.”

    “You are most fortunate as this advice has saved your life. Indeed, I will reward you for such wisdom. Here, take these priceless diamonds and draw on the rope so that your fellow travelers will pull you back up the well. Rest assured that I will provide all the water you will need from this well.”

    The wise man yanked the rope to signal he was still alive. He was pulled up to safety by his anxious fellow travelers. On reaching the surface, he sadly related what transpired below and the horrible fate of the previous men. He related, however, that the monster promised to let them draw all the water they needed to continue their journey through the desert.

    They lowered the bucket many times into the well and drew up fresh water that satisfied the thirst of all the travelers as well as their animals. They were able to fill all their water urns with enough water to last for three weeks which was the time it would take to traverse the desert. The travelers and the caravan leader were so thankful to the brave man that they gave him many gold coins for his cunning wit that saved all their lives. The caravan began to ply through the desert.

    (Shad kenatz, ketch kenatz garavanuh) The caravan went long and short (or the caravan went far and wide) in the dry desert until it reached a prosperous city. The businessmen traveling with the caravan were able to sell their goods at a good price and they prospered.

    The caravan prepared to go further east with new merchants and their goods. The man who said the king can only give what he has received from the heavenly King was alone with a great amount of wealth. He hired a servant to travel with him and loaded his donkeys with his chest of gold, diamonds, and his sovereign’s mandate to collect taxes in the eastern province. He joined the caravan that left for his homeland.

    Finally, the caravan, after long weeks of journey, reached his birthplace. The brave man and his servant left the caravan with their donkeys and entered his home town.

    As he approached the bridge leading into the town, he thought it wise to leave his servant and the donkeys in a safe place outside the town and venture alone to find his aged mother and wife. He only knew his wife for two weeks before he left on his journey. Was his mother still alive? Did his young wife stay faithful to him after so many years without news of him?

    Night had already darkened the streets which were empty. All the townspeople were in their homes sleeping. Only a few homes had their lights on still. He found his mother’s house just as it was at the end of a street. He quickly climbed up the side of the house to the roof and peered into the bedroom window. He saw a youthful man sleeping on a floor mat next to a raised bed. He saw his wife put out the sputtering flame of a lone candle and get into the bed next to the young man.

    Blood rushed to his head. He become progressively more outraged and thought: “My greatest fears have come true. There is no doubt that my dear mother is dead and my lonely wife has taken a young man as her husband.” He pulled out his dagger and readied himself to break the window and kill his wife and her lover. Even in this moment of passion, he remembered the third advice of the village elder: “Patience sustains life.”

    By remembering this wisdom, a new calm came over him and he regained control of his passions. He chose a wiser course of action, tempered by the wisdom of his elders. He spoke solemnly through a small opening of the window, “You blew out the candle and got into the bed. Who is that young man near your breast, oh woman?”

    His wife in total shock recognized her husband’s voice. She jumped out of bed and lit a candle. She began to speak in the direction of her long lost husband.

    “Jeerakuh guh vahrem, khaghneekuh guh barzem - l light the candle to reveal the secret.” “The young man whose head is on my breast was fed by them from his infancy.” Amazed and relieved, the man who believed that the king can only give what the heavenly father gives him jumped through the attic window and embraced his faithful wife and son. He asked them to wait for a short time while he fetched his loyal servant and his fabulous wealth. He ran to his waiting servant by the town’s bridge and led the him and his donkeys laden with treasures back to his house.

    The man, his wife, and their son all achieved their most cherished desires in life. May you also achieve your heartfelt desires.

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