Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • pahnbahguh ahzneev mehdakssuh suugh, khohnahr duhngotz yehn bouduugh

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  • naiyeh vor eemashdoun uhllas, paiytz duhkehd yehrehvnahl sohrveh

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  • vahruh nuhsdeer vohr vehruh kehzee dehgh dahn

    Genuine humility is the hallmark of a great person. This proverb illustrates the premium attributed to the quality of humility, which was appreciated in Armenian social circles. It suggests that being humble is a necessary trait for progress in the Armenian social hierarchy.

    One understanding of humility is “not seeking to be honored for one’s service.” This is emphasized by the Armenian proverb, “lahvoutoiun uhreh chouruh nehdeh, tzouguh cheemanah, ahstuhvadz geemahnah - Do a good deed, then throw into the waters, if the fish doesn’t know about it, God will.”

    When a humble person performs a good deed without any personal motive than to help another, it attracts the attention of good people. Such unselfish acts of humble persons are appreciated and eventually rewarded with loving exchanges and kind reciprocation. For the humble person, there is no demand for recognition. Rather, one acts out of pure goodness for the welfare of others and with a happy sense of self-sacrifice. It is the nature of the person to do good without any craving for praise or personal vaunting.

    The Armenian King Tigran the Great, who ruled from 96 BC to 55 BC, is an example of a great and powerful king who humbled himself to save his nation from ruin. Tigran the Great built up a powerful empire that stretched from the Caspian sea to the Mediterranean and up to the Black Sea. He conquered the ancient Seleucid Empire and most of the Parthian Empire. He was one of the most powerful kings of his time.

    When King Tigran was 75 years old, a huge Roman army under the command of Pompey with the help of one of Tigran’s sons reached the gates of King Tigran’s capital city of Tigranagerd. At the same time, a Parthian army attacked Armenia from another direction. Tigran realized his country’s vulnerability.

    Rather than think of his own safety or personal ambition, he courageously rode out of his besieged capital alone and unarmed toward the the Roman army. He came before Pompey and humbled himself.
    Pompey was impressed by the bravery and humility of King Tigran the Great who had the title “the king of kings.” Pompey took the opportunity to negotiate a treaty. King Tigran offered the Roman general all his conquered territories outside of traditional Armenia and a large sum of tribute. In return, he asked the general to spare his kingdom and people from the ravages of war and plunder. Pompey was pleased at the settlement because he could return to Rome with immense gains of land and wealth without any losses. This is an example of the proverb “it is better to have an intelligent enemy than a foolish friend.”

    King Tigran’s son became outraged that the Roman general did not take his father prisoner and make the him the new king of Armenia. Pompey forcibly took the son, who was married to the Parthian king’s daughter, back to Rome as a “guarded ambassador” of the Parthian kingdom which was allied with Rome.

    King Tigran continued to rule Armenia which enjoyed great prosperity, safety and cultural development due to his wisdom. He was a brave and humble king who put the interests of his people above his own ambitions and self-interest.

    The Bible describes this world and its many falsely proud rulers with all their vainglorious endeavors as “vanity of vanities, it is all vanity.” A king or prominent ruler usually has a large retinue of followers who flatter him profusely in order to cull favors. There was a king named Canute. He was a Viking king who extended his kingdom from Denmark and Norway to England. He was one of the greatest monarchs of medieval Europe. His political and military skills enabled him to consolidate a powerful kingdom.

    There is a legend that King Canute the Great had learned that his flattering courtiers claimed he was “So great, he could command the tides of the sea to go back”. King Canute was a religious man who knew his limitations. He was not vain or foolish to believe his courtiers’ flattery. As a clever politician, he wanted to put an end to useless claims by his courtiers and at the same instruct his people about the worldly limitations of kings. He commanded that his throne be carried to the seashore. King Canute sat on his royal throne as the tide came in, commanding the waves to advance no further. When they didn’t, he made his point that, though the deeds of kings might appear ‘great’ in the minds of men, they were nothing in the face of God’s power. King Canute vividly demonstrated the vanity of earthly powers in the face of heavenly power.

    There was once a great king in India who had immense wealth and power. On approaching death, he ordered that a special coffin be built for him with a hole on each side. He ordered his heirs, “When I die, I want my body put in this special coffin with two holes through which my bare hands should be shown. My subjects should see that I left this world with my hands empty even though I possess such immense wealth and power. As the Bible says, “Dust thou art and dust thou shalt become.”

    There is an Armenian proverb that says,

    dzahruh vohrkhan buhdough guh pehree
    kuhloughuh avehli khohnahr guh bahee

    However much fruit a tree gives, it humbles its head that much more.

    The English scientist and philosopher, Sir Isaac Newton wrote in a memoir,

    “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

    In other words,
    “All I have discovered is a few grains of sand in the vast ocean of knowledge.” It is more apparent to a truly great scientist and thinker to be humbled before the majesty and complexity of God’s creation.”

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  • hahmesht yegheer vor sohrvees, huhnazahnt yegheer vor hedehvees, sahd luhsseh yehv keetch khosseh, hahrtz uhreh yehv badashkhan luhsseh, muhdahdzeh ou yertoum ehrreh, misht sheedak jahmpah hedeveh (eemashtoutioun yehv ahrakeenoutioun)

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  • An assembly took place among the plants regarding which of them was suited to be their king. Some said: “The date-palm, because it is tall, and has sweet fruit.” But the grape vine opposed this, saying: “I am joy, and worthy of the kingship.” The fig said: “I [should be king] for I am sweet tasting.” But the buck-thorn said: “I am a striker, and as such, am worthy.” Thus did each praise himself excessively and say that he needed nothing from others. Now the date-palm, meditating, realized that they did not consent to make these [others] king for they did not want others to grow rich among them. So he said: “I am better suited to be king.” All bore witness to this, saying: “You are tall, and have sweet fruit, but you lack two things. For you do not bear fruit when we do, and are unsuited for building, especially since your height makes you displeasing to many.” [The date-palm] responded: “I shall reign making you princes, and at the end of my term I shall enthrone your sons.” And so he set up the order of the kingdom, making the grape vine their wine steward (ginepet); the fig, consul (hipatos); the buck-thorn, executioner, and the pomegranate, physician and other fruits for maintenance: the pine for building, the forest for burning, the blackberry [bush] for a prison, and instructed then to work for benefit each other.

    This fable illustrates that no one can become prominent or rich without some measure of humility and cannot ascend without admitting one’s shortcomings and thus be willing to cooperate with others and receive the help of others. And further, one may patiently wait for long term benefits provided one is recognized and given a share of present honor and prosperity.

    Mkhitar Gosh wrote many short fables. This is only one that I thought was very good.

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  • dzahruh vohrkhan buhdough guh pehree
    kuhloughuh avehli khohnahr guh bahee

    Persons of good upbringing and moral rectitude become humble as they progress in life. They realize how much God blesses them and protects them in all their endeavors. They understand how much they have been helped by others including family members, friends, co-workers, mentors, teachers, and even strangers. Their sense of gratitude to others gradually makes them more humble by seeing how much they depend on sincere persons for their support. A grateful person is always humbled by the love and sacrifice of others who have helped him in life.

    Talented person who have spent many years developing their talents are humbled by understanding how much they have been benefited by their well wishers in life. They have achieved excellence in their endeavors due to the help they have received from God, parents, teachers, loved ones, friends, etc. Reflecting on this they are humbled and forever grateful.

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  • buhzdigov uhsguhseh vor medzeen hasness

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  • Medz badhar gher, medz mee zuhroutzher

    Better to eat big than to give long-winded speeches.

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