Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • Yehs hahmahr, touhn hahmahr, yehrgoukess heemahr

    Stubborn goats
    Hahmahr aidzeeknehr

    A tree trunk extended across a small stream. It served as a bridge.
    Ahrveen vuhrah, vohrbes gahmourch, tzkvahdz ehr kehrahn

    Once, two stubborn goats came from opposite directions met headlong in the middle of the bridge.
    Ahnkam muh aiyt kehrahneen vuhrah yehrgou hahmahr aidzeeknehr eerahrou hahnteebehtzahn

    “You turn around and go back so I can cross,” said the black goat.
    -Touhn yehd kuhmah vohr yehs ahntzneem,- uhsahv sehv aidzeeguh

    “Why don’t you turn around and let me cross unhindered,” answered the white goat.
    -Eenchou touhn yehd chess kahsveer yehv eentzee gahratchahrghes,- badahskhanetz
    gehrmag aidzeeguh

    “I told you to back off. I came first on this bridge,” said the black goat.
    -Kehzee guhsehm vohr yehd kahsveehss. Ahratch yehs yehlah gahmourcheen vuhrah.-
    uhsahv sehv aidzeeguh

    “Do you have any idea who you are talking to?” said the white goat.
    -Eessk touhn keedehss teh vohrou hed guh khosees- uhsahv gehrmag aidzeeguh

    The goats butted their heads against each other, back and forth, until they both slipped and fell into the stream.
    Aidzeeknehruh jahgad jagdee zahrgeen, eehrahrou kuhlough bahdretzeen yehv yehrgoukuhn ahl choureen eengahn

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  • kahr khadzahv gehtzahv

    This is a very descriptive way to indicate that a person is very stubborn and obstinate.

    If someone bites on a stone they are suddenly stunned and seem frozen for a short second. A stubborn person is similarly immovable in their determination to not budge from their position or point.

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  • Eenad eratz chee kenatz

    Becoming “Eenad” means becoming “stubborn as a mule” that refuses to budge. “Eenad” implies that such stubbornness is self destructive because one is stubborn beyond reason and may even undermine his own well being.
    There is an Armenian story about the “Mysterious Mule” (khorhuhrtahvor chohreen)

    Once there was and was not an Armenian shopkeeper that lived in the village of Chounkoush. His name was Mardiros ahghpar (Mardiros brother). Referring to someone as ahghpar (brother) was recognition that they were very respectable. He owned a large storefront in the town business section and was known to be a good Armenian Christian.

    Every morning when he arose from his bed he would say, Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned. The word nahlet is Turkish and it means damned. The Armenian word for damned is ahnehdzk. He would make the sign of the cross, wash himself, and then go to church and bow on his knees and pray to God. After his prayers, he would go and open his shop. Before opening his shop door he would again say, Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen, then open his locked door with his key, raise the shutters, again make the sign of the cross and as he entered the shop he would say, Medzeh zououtioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen. He was now ready to do business for the day.

    At morning, afternoon, and evening mealtimes Mardiros aghpehr would say the Haiyr Mehr (the Lord’s Prayer) then repeat
    Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned. After which, he would eat his food. As soon as he finished, he would say Pahrk astdoutzoh (Praise God) and again repeat Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned.

    The devil that lived in Mardiros aghpehr’s neighborhood became very irritated by his constant repetition of the curse. There was an annual meeting of all the devil’s assistants in Chounkooush. The devil insisted that the agenda topics for the meeting include a discussion of how to punish Mardiros. During the meeting the devil adamantly lobbied that Mardiros be severely punished. The assembled members ardently supported the devil’s plan to punish Mardiros for his continual cursing of the devil.

    The day after the meeting ended seemed like any other day in the life of Chounkooush. Mardiros aghpehr woke up, bathed, dressed and went for early morning prayer to church. Then he proceeded to the town center to open his shop. As usual, every chance he had he repeated Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen.

    He entered the shop and began to work. His eye caught sight of an unharnessed mule that aimlessly walked from one end of the market to the other. Mardiros kept an eye on the wanderings of the mule all day. He became increasingly suspicious that the mule might have strayed far from its master or perhaps the mule didn’t have a master at all.

    Mardiros waited after closing time for all the other shops owners to go home. He closed his shop last. He was sure by this time that the mule was a stray because no one claimed it. When he arrived home, he told his wife aghcheek, zahrmanali pahn muh eentzee bahdahhehdzav aiysohr, (Wife, an amazing thing happened to me today). He related how the mule wandered around the marketplace all day without anyone claiming it. He added, Yeteh vaghuhn ahl der chullah, douhn beedi pehrehm, eench guhsehs, aghcheek ( If tomorrow no one claims the mule, I will bring it home, what do you say, wife?”)

    His wife liked Mardiros’s proposal.

    The next day Mardiros brought the mule home after closing his shop. He claimed ownership of the animal. Brother Mardiros acquired a very expensive mouth bit that he placed in the mule’s mouth and a decorative saddle that fit on the mule’s back. Husband and wife began to enjoy the different service the mule rendered for the household or the shop.

    After some weeks, the merchant’s mule gained notoriety in Chounkooush. Every morning Mardiros rode the mule to work. The mule would then return home alone to perform chores for his wife. After the chores, the mule would return to the shop alone with Mardiros’s lunch in the afternoon and again return home alone to serve his wife and kids. Mardiros would tell his friends, meenahk chee guhrnahr zuhroutzehl ( the only thing it can’t do is talk).

    Every Sunday Mardiros accompanied by his family rode the mule to the Armenian monastery in the hills of Chounkooush and by evening he would return to visit his friends and relatives. He praised the admirable qualities of the mule to everyone he met. He was justifiably proud to own the animal.

    By and by, there was not one person left in all of Chounkooush that Mardiros did not inform about the mule’s amazing qualities.

    One day, there was a grand wedding party in Chounkooush. After the holy ceremony in the Armenian church, the bride and groom began their procession toward the groom’s house. On the way they stopped in front of a cousin’s house where they had a customary Chounkoushtzee toast called rahkhee guh hahneheen. ( a toast of honor by raising glasses of raki, the famous anise flavored alcoholic beverage of Turkey). The bridal group drank and danced to their heart’s content in the streets.

    Brother Mardiros attended the party by riding his mule. He noticed that the mule was showing some signs of being uncomfortable. Mardiros thought, haiyvahnnuh dzahrahv eh (the poor animal is thirsty). He rode the mule toward a public drinking trough. Mardiros dismounted the mule so that it could drink water from the trough. But, to his utter amazement, the mule disappeared into the spigot or tap of the water fountain.

    Brother Mardiros could hardly believe what he saw with his own eyes. He kept rubbing his eyes. He was confused. He murmured (under his nose), guhlee mee, chuhleer mee (did it happen or not?). He kept muttering to himself. He looked again into the tap. He saw the cropped ears of the mule moving ever so slightly in the tap. Brother Mardiros fell to the ground, extended and pointed his hands toward the spigot in a beseeching pose and began to repeatedly murmur loudly chou … chou … chou….to beckon the mule to come out of the tap. He was on his knees gesturing and murmuring.

    A few of Mardiros’s friends noticed he was late returning from watering his mule. They left the wedding party and walked toward the water fountain. Arriving at the water fountain and trough, they were amazed to see Mardiros’s hands extended toward the tap and incessantly murmuring chou…chou…chou.”They asked, ahsee eench hahl eh, Mardiros, ouur eh chohreen? (What has happened Mardiros, where is your mule? The word hahl is Turkish and it means condition or status. The Armenian word for hahl is veejahg)

    “The mule went into the tap,” he answered without any emotion.

    The friends looked at each other for a few seconds motioning with their eyes and eyebrows (ahckohv – hohnkohv) that something strange had happened to their friend. They lifted up brother Mardiros. He tried to resist and continued to
    murmur chou…chou…chou. They reached the wedding party. Everyone noticed brother Mardiros’s pitiable state . Quickly word spread throughout the town that brother Mardiros had gone crazy and was repeating without stop – The mule entered into the tap.

    The mayor of Chounkoush decided to do something about poor Mardiros. He had the merchant locked up in a government facility with a continual guard who was mandated to keep Mardiros under supervision until the day he stopped repeating “The mule entered into the tap.”

    Everyday the guard asked brother Mardiros about the whereabouts of the mule. As long as he answered “The mule entered into the water tap,” the guard answered ” You stay right where you are.”

    Mardiros’ wife brought him fresh cooked food everyday. His friends often visited him. Mardiros continued to insist the the mule entered into the tap. How could he not insist when he saw it with his own eyes and later examined the tap and saw the ears of the mule cropped tightly in the spigot?

    Brother Mardiros remained under guard and key for many months. His creditors auctioned off all his merchandise in his store.
    His wife and small children fell into hard times. His friends were troubled at heart by the misfortunes of brother Mardiros who was a respectable Christian father of a good family. However, Mardiros kept insisting he saw the mule enter the tap. He bore witness to it over and over again.

    One day, three of the most intimate friends of Mardiros had a serious meeting to discuss what they could do to end his ordeal. They paid him a visit and asked the guard to stay outside the room. They closed the door of the room to privately discuss with their friend. They had the following very serious discussion among themselves.

    Mardiros, do you accept us as your close friends? (mahrdeeros, toun mehzee pahregam guh jahnchnahs?”)

    Why of course, is this something you need to ask? (hahrgav, aheet ahl khosk eh?)

    If you accept (our friendship), then will you listen to our advice?” (ahyeet bes eh neh, mehr khosgeen bedee muhdeek uhnehs?”)

    Of course, why not, you are my most sincere friends, you only want my welfare, is it not? ( hahrgav, eenchou cheh, toouk
    eem muhdehreem pahrehgamnehrous ehk, lahvoutioun goouzehk, ahyeet behs cheh?)

    Oh then, please listen to us now. (ohfuh, heemmah mehzee muhdeek uhreh)
    You are not crazy, Mardiros, you know it and we know that you are not crazy.. (toun khehnt chehs, Mardiros, toun ahl keedehs, mehnk ahl keedehnk vohr toun khehnt chehs)
    The only thing that might be called your craziness is your insistence The mule entered the tap. Isn’t it so? (kuhou khehntoutiounut meeahg chohreen dzohrageen metchuh muhdhav uhsehelut eh, aiyeet behs cheh?)

    Tell me what to do. I feel obliged to you, said Mardiros. (huhrahmehr ehk uhsahv Mardeeros)

    Very good then. Listen to us Mardiros. (heehmah aghehk muhdeek uhreh, Mardiros)
    You saw the mule enter the tap. (toun dehssahr vor chohreen dzohrageen metchuh mudhahv)
    You looked up the tap and saw the cropped ears of the mule slightly moving.(ahgahchnehruh sahrjehluhn ahl dehssahr)
    We understand you. (mehnk guh hahsguhnahnk kehzee)
    We know that what you say is true. (keehdehnk vor uhsahdzut seehdahk eh)
    But, all of Chounkoush, even all the world, cannot accept such a fact that the mule entered into the tap. (paiytz, pohlor chounkoushuh, polor ahskhahruh chee guhrnahr ouhntounehl vor chohreen dzohrahgeen metchuh muhdhahv)
    Do you understand Mardiros? (hahsguhsahr Mardiros?)

    Yes, but… (aiyoh, paiytz…)

    There is no but or mutt! (fahkaht-mahkaht chee gah – Mardiros used the turkish words hah , fahkat which mean hah(yes), fahkat (but) which in Armenian are aiyoh, paiytz. His friends answered with a rhyming couplet fahkat-makhaht chee gaah which could be translated into Armenian as paiytz-maiytz chee gaah or as I tried to translate into English “There is no but or mutt.” )

    Mardiros, get a hold of yourself, control your mind. (Mardiros, khelkut kuhloughut johveh)
    You just told us you will listen to our advice. (mehzee uhseehr vohr mehr khoshgeen muhdeek beedi uhnehs)
    Enough is enough. (ahl guh pahveh)
    Your shop is closed. (khahnoutut pahgvahdz eh)
    Your wife and kids are living in misery and are very vulnerable. (geeneehgut yehv chohjoughnehrut -this is a turkish word that means children and is translated into Armenian by yehrehkhanehrut – pehr ou pehroushan yeghahn – pehr ou pehroushan is a Turkish phrase which means literally troubled and miserable and is translated into Armenian as tuhjvahr veehjak – so the Armenian phrase would be geeneehgut yehv yerehkhahnehrut tuhjvahr veejahgee metch yehn)
    Tomorrow morning, when the guard comes and asks you about the mule (vahghuh ahrahvohd yehrph bahhahbahnut yehgahv ou hahrtzoutz chohreen mahseen) ,
    you say What mule , what are you talking about! (eehnch chohreen, eench pahn?)
    If he answers (yeteh uhsatz)
    Well you have said over and over again that the mule entered into the tap. (hahbah toun uhsehr ehs chohreen dzorageen metchuh muhdhav)
    You say (guhshehss),
    What are you saying. Are you crazy. (eench guhsehs, khehnt ehs, eench ehs)
    Can a mule enter into a water tap? (chohreen dzohrageen metchuh guh muhdnah?)
    Then, you will walk out of this prison. (yehv gehllahss aiyss deghehn)
    You will go home (goukahss douhnut)
    and we will help you get on your feet again (mehnk ahl gohnehnk kezi),
    open your shop (tahrtzyahl khahnoutut guh pahnahss)
    and free yourself from this predicament (ou gahzahdvees aiyss hahlet)

    Mardiros followed the advice of his dearest friends.

    The next day, he was freed from the guarded incarceration . He opened his shop again. After some time, he was able to build up his business and achieve again a stable stable financial and social well being.
    One night he woke up and quietly got out of bed. He walked out into the deserted streets and made his way to the watering fountain. He bent down to look up the spigot. Sure enough he saw the mule’s cropped ears that seemed to slightly move inside the tap. He controlled his emotions and remained unnerved.

    Mardiros said to himself, I know that the mule entered the tap. However, insisting on it will bewilder and mislead me and I’ll end up in the crazy house. Mardiros straightened himself and made the sign of the holy cross and said, “In the name of God the father, the son and the holy spirit, Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned. He walked quietly back home.

    The victory of the devil was short lived. The final and significant victory was overwhelming due to the power and glory of Lord Jesus.

    From that day on in Chounkoush Mardiros’s words became a commonly used saying. “I know that the mule went up the tap. However, insisting on it will bewilder and mislead me and I’ll end up in the crazy house.” (yehs keedem vor chohreen dzohrageen metchehn eh, paiytz ahrkeelahrahnehn jahnpahn guh shuhvahretzuhneh – this can also be translated as “I know the mule is in the spigot but if I insist on it, I’ll get bewildered and end up in the looney tune house.)

    Whenever one comes face to face with an enigmatic or seemingly impossible obstacle on his path, he is obliged by prudence to keep silent and remember Mardiros’s wise saying.

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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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