Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • pehrahneen hahmuh chee keedehr

    When a person does not have the ability to differentiate between good and bad, this saying is used.

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  • vohrbehsszee mahrtoun jahnahchess, nuhrah hehd mee pehr ahgh beehdee ouhdehss

    Literally, this proverb says. “To know a man well, you need to eat a large amount of salt with him.
    In Armenian, eating salt with someone means dining with that person. It is equivalent to breaking bread or sharing a meal with a friend.

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  • Once there was and there wasn’t a man who had three sons. Before he died, he summoned his sons and explained he wanted to leave them his property and money, but he was not sure how to do it fairly. Before his wife died, she confided in him that one of the three boys was born illegitimately from another man. She suggested that the son born out of wedlock should not inherit any of the lands but should receive a part of the cash inheritance. However, she died before she could revealed which one of the three was illegitimate. The father said, “When I die you three should go the the Kadi (administrative leader and often a judge of lesser crime) of the next village. He is a wise man and he will divide my property fairly. I am confident he will be able to determine which one of you should not receive land as an inheritance.” Soon after this conversation, the father died and was buried.

    The three brother set out to visit the Kadi of the neighboring village. On the dirt road, they saw the footprints of a camel.

    The eldest brother said, “I think the camel can see only with its right eye.”

    The youngest brother added, “The camel is missing one tooth.”

    They walked further on the road. They noticed the camel made frequent stops and there were foot, knee and hand prints on the soft soil. The eldest brother remarked, “I think the camel was carrying a sack of butter on one side and a sack of honey on the other side of his hump.”

    The second brother chimed in, ” The camel’s tail was probably cut off and only a stump of a tail remained.”

    The youngest brother examined the place carefully and concluded, “There was probably a pregnant woman riding on the back of the camel.”

    After making these observations, the brothers continued their trek to the next village. They met a man walking hurriedly as if looking for something. The man asked the three brothers if they had seen his camel.

    The three brothers each made a remark.

    “Did the Camel have a blind left eye?”

    “Yes,” said the man.

    “Was the camel missing a tooth?”


    “Did the camel have a stunted tail.”


    “Was the camel carrying a load of honey and butter?”


    “There must have been a pregnant woman riding on the camel’s back.”

    “Yes. Please tell me where my camel is.”

    “We do not know where it is,” said the brothers.

    The man was shocked to hear this. He said, “You know so many real details about my camel and you say you do not know where it is? You must have seen it.”

    “We have never seen your camel,” said the brothers.

    The man became very frustrated. He warned them that they were either lying about seeing the camel or they were the thieves themselves. He left them and proceeded to the next village and complained to the Kadi or village judge. He explained how he questioned the three brothers and they knew every detail about his camel, but they insisted they had never seen the animal. This was impossible to believe and thus he was suspicious that they were the thieves or accomplishes.

    The three brothers soon arrived in the village and went to see the same judge for their personal business. The judge spoke to the the brothers.

    “Apparently, you three have met this man on the road. He claims that you were able to describe his stolen camel down to the smallest detail. Yet, you all insist you have never seen the animal. This seems to be impossible and highly suspicious. What do you have to say about this?”

    “The eldest brother said, “Sir, we swear that we didn’t see the camel. We were able to surmise certain details by carefully noticing footprints and other signs on the dirt road.”

    “What lead you to believe the camel had only one eye?”, asked the judge.

    “Sir, I noticed corn was growing in the fields on both sides of the road, but the camel ate from the right side only. This observation lead me to believe he must be blind in the left eye because he did not eat from the left side of the road,” said the eldest brother.

    “That makes sense,” said the judge. “Why did you think the camel had a tooth missing.”

    “I saw a repeat pattern in the grass that remained after the camel took a bite. When he cropped the grass, there was always a tuft of grass left that indicated the animal must lack a tooth,” said the third and youngest brother.

    “Good for you,” said the judge. “Now tell me why you think the camel has a stump of a tail.”

    The second brother said, “Sir, I noticed the dung droppings of the camel were always in a small mound. If the camel had a long tail, it would be obliged to wag it continually to keep the flies away
    in this sultry weather. Its wagging tail would have dispersed the falling dung and would not have left a neat mound.”

    “How could you know that the camel was carrying one saddle bag of honey and one of butter?”

    The eldest brother said, “I saw that there were bees on one side of the road where drops of honey fell. On the other side, there were ants where the drops of butter fell.”

    “What prompted you to think that there was a pregnant woman riding on the camel’s back.”

    Whoever was riding the camel made frequent stops and dismounted by forcing the camel to bend down so that she could slide off one side with both feet planted on the ground. Then I noticed the person came to their knees with both hand pressing down in the soil as if she needed to push herself upright first on her knees and then on her feet. I thought about it being strange and concluded it must be a pregnant woman because her pregnancy would cause her to urinate frequently and the weight of the womb would give her a hard time to stand upright without the added support of her knees and hands pushing up from the ground,” said the youngest brother.

    “You three have a plausible explanation for every detail, but I am not completely convinced you are innocent. The judge asked the brothers to wait in another room while he fetched a large box with a lid and a drawer that both locked. He opened the lid and then the drawer and placed an orange in it and locked both again. He had the box brought into the room where the three brothers were waiting.

    “If you can guess what is in the locked drawer of this box, I will let you go free.” said the judge.

    The eldest brother held the chest and began to shake it. He heard an object moving inside like a ball. He said, “It must be a round object inside.”

    “I have a hunch that if it is round, it must be yellow,” said the second brother.

    “If it is yellow and round, then it must be an orange,” said the third brother.

    The judge was impressed. He opened the locked box and the drawer and to everyone’s pleasant surprise, it was an orange. The judge looked at the man and said, “These three brothers have not seen your camel. They are telling the truth.”

    The judge asked the three brothers to wait for dinner as his guests. He talked to his wife and asked her to cook a dinner for the three visitors. She prepared bulgur pilaf, fresh yogurt, fresh oven baked bread, cooked vegetables and fresh grapes for desert.

    The judges wife set the table and served the boys with plentiful portions of each preparation. He did not sit with them but remained concealed behind a curtain hearing and observing them while they ate.

    When the wife left the brothers alone to eat , the eldest brother said, “This yogurt was made from the milk of a cow that was fed with old hay and grain with rat droppings in it.”

    The second brother remarked, “This bread is fresh baked but I detect that the woman that kneaded the dough and baked it was having her menstrual period.”

    The youngest brother made a side comment, “Our host is a competent judge, but he must not be born of his father.”

    When the three began to eat the fresh grapes, they looked at each other. The eldest brother said,
    “The grapes are fresh. However, the grapevines from which these grapes were picked had their roots on in a grave yard.”

    The judge listened to the three brothers while they ate. When they finished, he went to his mother’s house. He was very perturbed. On entering, his kissed his mother, said hello, and asked her in a serious voice, “Mother, I have a doubt. Someone told me, I am not your legitimate son. It is absolutely necessary you tell me the truth. She was silent. He repeated himself again and insisted she reveal the truth.

    She said, “My son, your father and I couldn’t conceive a child. He wanted a son. After many years, we were desperate. You were the son of a poor family. They agreed to sell you for a considerable sum of money so that we could adopt you. We never told you. I am surprised you found out as no one, and I mean no one knew about this except your father and I.”

    The judge thanked his mother for the truth, but he did not tell her how he found out. He went right away to the dairy farmer from whom his wife purchased the milk. “Can I inspect your barn where you feed the cows,’ he asked. It was winter and the cows were kept in a barn with a hay loft. The dairy man was happy to show him the cows. The judge inspected the cows and the hay loft. He carefully inspected the dry hay and noticed there were many rodent droppings in the loft. He pointed to the droppings to the dairy man who shrugged his shoulders and said, “What can I do? The rats take refuge in the barn in the winter because it is warmer.”

    The judge proceeded to the vine keeper and asked him if he could take a look at his vines. The farmer took him into the vineyard to inspect his grape vines. He had a small field. The judge asked him if there was any history related to the field of vines. The farmer looked at him and smiled. He told him a story he had heard from his grandfather. “Hundred of years before there was a fierce battle fought in this village between Armenians and Turk. It is said that all the dead Armenian villagers were buried in this field.”

    The judge returned to his house and spoke with his wife. He asked her if she was having her monthly menses. His wife answered, “Yes.”

    The judge was amazed at the accurate guesses of the three brothers. He entered the room where they were seated waiting for him. He excused himself for not eating with them. He explained how he listened to their conversation while they ate. He noted the different observations they made during the meal and went about the town verifying whether they were accurate or not. He asked the eldest brother how did he know that the cows that gave milk for making yogurt were fed with dry hay that was mixed with rat droppings.

    The eldest brother explained that he has always eaten yogurt made with milk from cows fed on fresh grass. Thus, he is able to discern the taste of milk coming from cows fed fresh grass and those fed dry hay. The yogurt he ate on the judge’s table had the taste of dry hay with a slight musty taste and odor that indicated to him that the hay was either old or it had some foreign matter. He noticed an after taste that was slightly acrid. So, he concluded that the hay was somewhat stale and had rat droppings that gave it a bitter after taste.

    He asked the second brother how he knew that the person who baked the bread was having her monthly period. He explained, “When I ate the bread, I noticed there were a few uncooked lumps in the bread. It indicated to me that the woman who kneaded the bread was not feeling well and did not do a good job of uniformly kneading the bread. This usually happens when a woman is having her menses.”

    The judged looked at the youngest brother and asked, How did you know I am not my father’s son? The young man said, “Honorable judge, I noticed you were not sitting at the table with your invited guests, but were hiding behind a curtain listening to our conversation. Excuse me, but only a person of dubious background would do such a thing. I assumed you must not be your father’s son.”

    The judge continued, “How did you know the grapes grew in a vineyard planted on graves of the dead?”

    The eldest brother said, “I looked carefully at the grapes and noticed they were not uniformly plump.
    They were tapered somewhat as if they were about to shrivel at the top. It indicated to me that they might be incompletely nourished or watered. But, when I smelled them, they had a slight odor of dead flesh.”

    The judge was impressed by their answers. He realized they had uncanny powers of observation, taste and logic based on experience. The judge changed the subject by asking what was their purpose for seeing him. The eldest brother explained how his father recently died. Before dying, the father told the three brothers that one of them was illegitimate. Because their mother died without telling her husband which one was not his son, the father could not determine it himself. He requested that after his death, the brothers should seek the judge’s help.

    “He said you would be able to find out which of us is not a legitimate son so that our father’s wealth in property be given to the two legitimate sons and only some money be given to the one who is not born of our father.”

    The judge told the brothers to stay as his guests for several days until he made an inquiry into the facts of their request. He arranged for their stay and began the next day collecting information to verify their story. Of course, everything they said was true. The father had recently died and he was a proprietor of considerable land and money. The judge was perplexed how to proceed. How could he find out which one was illegitimate. This was a serious challenge to the judge. He asked the advice of a holy man who he often consulted. The holy man gave him a very good idea that required some elaborate preparation. The judge decided to do what his teacher suggested. He asked the boys to wait for one additional week. He made many elaborate arrangements and summoned the brothers.

    The judge took the brothers to a very long building that had five large rooms one after the other in succession with an exit at the end. He explained, “This is a unique building with five chambers one after the other. You will enter here to the first room and gradually proceed from one to the other until you exit at your own will. Each room will contain interesting things to see. I will make my judgment later today.” The judge arranged hidden observers in the rooms to witness what would transpire between the brothers while they passed through the rooms.

    The brothers were intrigued by the judges request. They thought that their walk through the five rooms would pass easily and then they would have the judge’s decision. They entered the first chamber. They were pleasantly surprised to see a wonderful array of finely cooked foods. Everything was expertly made and presented on clean tables. There were all sorts of delicious and fragrant preparations and drinks. Since they did not have breakfast, they began to eat and drink with relish. The drinks were slightly intoxicating which they did not realize until later. The elder brother cautioned them not to eat or drink too much because their real business was to walk through the five chambers. But the two younger brothers ate and drank as much as they could. The elder brother insisted that they stop and go forward. In the second chamber, they heard beautiful music and singing that was so enchanting that they stood for some time as if mesmerized by the expert and charming sounds. The effect of the intoxicating drinks also began to be felt especially by the two younger brothers. The elder brother realized they were losing time enjoying the music. He told the other two that they should proceed to the next room. The youngest said, “We have all day to walk through these rooms. Apparently, the judge has arranged some extraordinary entertainment for us. Why not enjoy it while we have the chance. The second brother nodded his approval. But, the eldest became impatient and said, “We are not here to enjoy ourselves. We have been asked to walk through these five chambers so let us get along with our task. He pushed them along to the third room.

    In the next room there were beautiful and impelling sculpted objects, magnificent paintings and other rare artifacts like ancient books and manuscripts, gold coins, precious jewels that emitted a strange glow and many other unique objects never seen before by the brothers. Each sight was fascinating and instructive to look at as if everything was a museum piece. The three were almost spell bound by the sights. There were also descriptions of each object that were full of historical facts. They spent some time satisfying their curiosity. It was the elder brother who noticed that the time was passing. He interrupted his brothers and reminded them of their task. The younger brother said, “These are the most precious objects of art and artifact I have ever seen and probably will never see again. We have plenty of time before the end of the day. Let us satisfy our desire to see and touch such treasures for some more time.” The second brother also nodded in approval. The elder brother became very stern and said, “You lack the experience to control your mind and concentrate on the work at hand. Now listen to me and move on.”

    They entered the fourth room. There were incredible fragrances in the room emitting from flowers of every description, size and color. The floral arrangements were all expertly and artistically done. The fragrances were intoxicating. Each brother swooned under the influence of the fragrant flowers. They went from one to the other and returned for a second and third time as if their olfactory sense could not be satisfied. The elder brother finally noticed they were all preoccupied so much that they were ignoring their real task. He reminded them that time was passing and they still had one more room to go through. The youngest brother objected strongly this time. He could not understand his senior brother’s insistence to ignore such delights. The second brother nodded his approval. The elder brother stood fast and forced them to enter the last room.

    On entering the last room, they were all shocked out of their wits. The room was very spacious and had small cubicles to the side that were curtained off. There were exquisitely beautiful and seductively dressed women whose bodily features were barely covered. In fact, many had only see-through veils on their bodies. The three did not know what to think. The women spoke to them in soft and alluring voices inviting them to spend some time with them and enjoy their leisure. This was too much for the youngest brother. He took advantage of the opportunity and disappeared into one of the cubicles with a lovely young woman. The second tried to follow the example of his younger brother. The elder brother, although very attracted himself to the women, grabbed hold of the second brother and wouldn’t let him go.

    He said, “We must get out of here right now. We will sully our honor and moral responsibility by taking advantage of these young women.

    The second brother replied, “Why can’t we enjoy these women who are inviting us so enthusiastically? They want to please us and we are men.” The elder brother began to push him toward the exit and finally they both exited, although the second brother was very reluctant to leave.

    The judge greeted them at the exit. He awarded them all their father’s property and explained that the youngest brother would receive some money as an inheritance. The two brothers were pleased and saddened. They asked, “How are you sure that our younger brother is not the real son of our father?”

    The judge answered, “As you witnessed yourselves, it became apparent that your youngest brother had a difficult time controlling his senses and finally gave in. Please excuse what I am going to say. This indicated to me that he inherited your mother’s nature, whereas both of you inherited your father’s nature.” This is all the judge said and the matter was resolved.

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  • An elephant saw an ant and was amazed at how small and frail the ant appeared.

    The ant spoke to the elephant, “It is not clear who is stronger, you or me. But, you can’t
    be the judge.”

    “Then who will judge?”, said the elephant.

    Let’s go see the man, let him be the judge,” said the ant.

    They went together to see the man.

    “To resolve this question it will be necessary to test the strength of each of you,” said the man.

    The elephant lifted a column with his trunk and placed it on top of a wall.

    The ant fetched a cigarette butt

    “Oh big elephant,” said the man, “the ant is stronger than you are. The cigarette butt the ant carried is twenty times more heavy than he is.
    However, the column that you lifted is much lighter than you are.”

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  • ardakinov mee tadherr voyyeveh mart
    ahmen mart ounee eeryen hahdouk dahrd

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  • Tadasdhan gah kalotz, badaskhan gah dalotz

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