Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • paghduh guh jubdhee mahrtotz vuhrah yehp gheen yehv ahmouseen chen guhrveel, ahnkhehlknehruh bahsdohnyah chounehn, ahghuh chor, ahrduh gahnanch, gheen, yehrehkhah yehv dahreekohdnehr ahbahhohv yehv ouragh gahbreen

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

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

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

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

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

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  • ahmen ahdhen oughduh ahrmav chee trkehl

    Good fortune doesn’t always shine on a person.

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  • vohmahntz kashgahk, vohmahntz ahkhorjak

    This proverb implies that some people are rich and sick and some people are healthy (meaning they have a good appetite), but are hungry.

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  • Paght gah portzank guh perheh, portzank gah paght guh pereh

    There was a village in Punjab, India. One day all the chickens died in the village. The village elders called a meeting and decided that such an exceptional occurrence must have a meaning that they were not able to ascertain. They resolved to seek the advice of a strange saint who lived in a tree on the outskirts of the village. They walked to the saint’s tree and addressed him. “O venerable sadhu, all the chickens in our village suddenly died. What is the meaning of this.” The saint began to laugh hysterically for five minutes. All the elders were uncomfortable with his strange behavior, but they remained respectfully silent until he composed himself and finally spoke. “This is God’s special blessing on you.” After this short statement the sage remained silent. Some of the elders were disappointed by the saint’s answer. While walking back to the village, the skeptics began to criticize the strange behavior of the saint and questioned his sincerity. The senior elders defended the saint and said that his seeming strange behavior was not a subject of criticism. Such a saint should be always respected because he continually demonstrates severe renunciation and has never deviated from his vows of chastity and poverty. The next day, all the dogs in the village died suddenly. The elders returned again to the saint and asked his opinion. He again began to laugh hysterically for ten minutes making all the elders very uncomfortable with his strange behavior. Finally, after composing himself, he stated that this again was the special mercy of God and remained silent. The skeptical elders protested and began to raise their voices in protest, but the others quelled their voices and cautioned them to remain respectful in the presence of the saint. As they returned to the village the skeptics argued that asking the advise of the saint was useless. All he replied was that this is the special mercy of God. What if the entire village was destroyed, would he insist still that it is the special mercy of God. How can they expect a rational reply from the saint? He lives in a tree like an animal and barely eats. How can he know anything about the mercy of God. Other elders again remonstrated that to speak disrespectfully of the saint would bring ruin to the village. Although his behavior seemed irrational, still they should carefully consider his words and try to understand the meaning.

    The next day, all the fires in the village went out. This was a serious problem as they would have to go to the next village to acquire hot coals to start the fires again. They would also not be able to cook food that day. Again they approached the saint and asked his advice. He began to laugh hysterically for fifteen minutes and finally calmed himself. Needless to say, all the villagers were uncomfortable and even the most staunch defenders of the saint began to doubt his sincerity. Finally the saint pronounced very solemnly that this was the ultimate mercy of God on the villagers. This time there was only one elder who continued to defend the saint. All the others were convinced that it was a waste of time consulting him as his only answer was that this is the mercy of God. What kind of mercy is that. Continual adversity cannot be mercy they thought.

    The one staunch elder, however, kept the others at bay. They did not insult the saint to his face, but they decided by majority vote not to consult him again. They were convinced except for the one elder that these adversities were the result of God’s mercy, but rather chance occurrences that they could not attribute any divinity. The next day a huge army of fierce Muslim invaders approached the village. The Muslims had been pillaging all the Hindu villages, razing them and killing all inhabitants. As the hoard of Muslims neared the village, the general stopped the army’s march and looked and listened carefully. All the inhabitants of the village were hiding and were frightened beyond their wits. The general remarked, “There is something strange about this village. There are no dogs, no chickens and all the fires are out it seems for days. This must be an abandoned village and most probably it is haunted. We will ignore this village and proceed to the next one.”

    The villagers realized that the words of the saint were true. Although they thought he was an eccentric fool, it became evident that he was truly in touch with God and was able to foresee the future. There is bad fortune that leads to good results and good results that sometimes lead to bad fortune.

    There is another interesting story about a three breasted Princess.

    A king had a newly born daughter. On examination, the little girl was born with three breasts.The king called his advisers and asked their opinion. They claimed it was very inauspicious. They advised the king to abandon the baby in the forest. The king prudently asked his priest for advice too. The priest confirmed that it was a bad omen for the king to have a three breasted daughter. He suggested the king not see her. However, he instructed the king to have the girl raised outside the palace. When she came of age the king could have her married and then send the girl and her husband to a far away place to live.

    When the girl grew up to marriageable age, the king sent town criers to announce to the public, “The king is offering his daughter with three breasts in marriage along with ten thousand gold coins. But the groom and his bride will then be banished forever from the kingdom.

    After many days a blind man who had a hunchback friend heard the proclamation. He discussed the possibility of accepting the king’s offer. He said to his friend, I am inclined to accept this offer because our life here is miserable. We are struggling to exist with no money. He said

    An empty stomach is not a good friend
    It has no grace, it leads to a dead end
    One who is well fed is kind and witty
    Giving, sharp minded, full of energy”.

    After his statement, the blind man went to the palace to accept the king’s daughter in marriage. On hearing the offer, the king said, “Whatever he may be, give him my daughter and the gold and let him immediately depart.

    The marriage was completed and the blind man, his new wife and the hunchback friend left the kingdom in a fisherman’s boat for a distant land. When they reached a foreign country, they purchased a house and lived comfortably for some time.The princess develop a liking for the hunchback. They began to make love secretly. One day the princess suggested that they would be much happier if her husband was dead. She suggested they poison her husband.

    The hunchback reluctantly agreed. He went out in search of poison in the forest. He found a dead snake which he brought back to the princess for making a soup. She made of pot of boiling water with the snake and vegetables and spiced the mixture to taste. The blind man’s wife asked her husband to stir the boiling pot while she attended to the laundry. She added that she was making a very tasty boiled fish and vegetable soup. The blind man stirred the soup ardently.

    As he stirred the soup, poisonous vapors wafted into his nostrils and eyes. In some miraculous way the vapors healed his blindness. Gradually he gained his eyesight and looked about the house. He noticed the pot of soup and realized that it was not a fish but a poisonous snake cooking down into a broth. He suspected that there was a plot to kill him by poisoning.

    He decided to act as if he was blind so that he could find out who was trying to poison him. In a few minutes the hunchback appeared and went to the princess who was doing chores and began to kiss and fondle her. The blind man saw this and became infuriated. He walked toward the two love birds as if he was blind. As he approached they parted and the wife went back to her chores. He walked up to the hunchback who was unaware that the blind man could see. The husband bent down and then grabbed the feet of the hunchback and began to whirl him around in a fit of anger. The wife approached the two in a hurry to stop her husband, but he dashed the hunchback against her chest.

    The unexpected happened. The blow of the hunchback’s hump on the wife’s chest pushed in the third breast which disappeared. At the same time, the hunchback’s hump straightened and also disappeared.

    All three were favored by an act of fortune even though it was the result of a sinful act. The quirk of fate became the good fortune of the three. Therefore, the Armenian proverb says, “There is good fortune that brings ruin and bad fortune that leads to good results.”

    We should, however, be convinced that foolish and sinful acts lead eventually to misery. Although we may be controlled by fate, still our acts may have an influence on fate. We should never act rashly and we should try our best to avoid sinful acts.

    Once there was a man sitting on a branch of a tree and sawing it off at the point it grew out from the trunk. Another man walking by noticed the foolhardy endeavor and remarked, “Sir, if you continue to do what you are doing, you will cut the branch off and fall down. Perhaps, you will injure yourself severely.”The man on the branch rebuked the person who made the well intentioned comment, “Mind you own business, I know what I am doing. I don’t need your advice.”

    The stroller realized that the man on the branch was too arrogant or foolish to listen to his advice. He continued on his path convinced that something unfortunate would happen to the foolish man. Sure enough, in a short while, the man on the branch fell off the tree and screamed in agony. His cries for help pained the stroller, who ran back to try and help. The fool broke his arm as a result of his fall. When the stroller approached to help, the fool said,
    “You are truly a man of vision. How did you know I would fall and hurt myself?”
    The stroller replied,
    “I am not a soothsayer or prophet. I simply observed your sawing the branch off and understood you would probably fall down and injure yourself. Foolish or passionate acts often lead to misery. One should never act rashly. Rather, one should listen to the advice of experienced persons before acting.”

    We do not have to be a prophet to know what will happen in the future. You can tell by observing the behavior of people. There are three qualities that control the actions of people in this world. They are goodness, passion and ignorance. The actions of people who are endowed with goodness

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  • Megoun paghteh verchatzav, oureesheen ter nor uhsguhsav

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