Harry Terhanian.com

Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • The worm does not have a right to complain why he is being trampled

    vortuh eeravounk counee poghokehlou
    eenchou zeenk guh goghguhrdehn

    This proverb expresses the necessity for not becoming a slave or not permitting oneself to be put into a position of slavery. In slavery or oppression, one forfeits his right to complain about injustice and must be a subject of constant abuse.

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    • Sinner to Saint

      meghahvoruh yeghahv sourpuh

      There were once two young brothers who decided to become sheep thieves. They lived in the Armenian Highlands where there were many sheep herders. Hundreds of sheep wandered through the green mountain slopes with only one or two shepherds and a few dogs. Under the cover of night and with tricks to fool the dogs, it would be relatively easy to steal a few sheep. This was the thought of the two errant brothers. As the English proverb says, “There is many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.”

      The brothers miscalculated. They decided not to steal from their village herders. They chose to perpetrate their theft in a nearby village. Unbeknown to them, the neighboring villagers were very experienced at catching sheep thieves at night. They let the sheep wander during the day, but kept them in a safe place that was somewhat protected by limited access. The pathways were also booby trapped. It was impossible to see the traps at night even when the moon was full. The noise made by one brother who got caught in a trap alerted the dogs. The villagers apprehended both of them.

      Besides the customary beating and castigation, the village elders decided to brand the brothers permanently with large letters S.T. (sheep thief ) on their foreheads with hot irons. They would have a physical sign warning others of their history of attempted theft.

      They were humiliated. Soon all the villagers in that area knew that they were caught trying to steal sheep. Whenever they walked in public, the villagers mocked them. Children threw stones at them and screamed “thief, thief, sheep thief.”

      One brother could not tolerate the public disgrace. He decided to go far away from his natal village and begin a new life in a foreign place. But, wherever he tried to settle down, the villagers could see the S.T. branded on his forehead. They always questioned him about the meaning of the abbreviated letters and how he came to be branded.

      When the villagers insisted on knowing his history, he would quietly leave for another place. He resigned himself to be a wanderer going from one place to another without planting any roots. He became forlorn and bitter. He jumped off a cliff and died in a lonely place shamed to core of his being for the mistake he made in his youth.

      The second brother regretted his sibling leaving. He wisely decided to stay in his village. He accepted the fact that he could not escape his fate because he was physically branded. It was impossible to hide his shame. He tolerated the public insults which made him more determined to correct his past errors by living virtuously in the present. He consulted Hayr Mesrop, whose knowledge of the Bible and the Armenian Saints was remarkable for a village priest. The holy man received the repentant brother often in his humble dwelling to discuss the ways of redemption of sin. Hayr Mesrop conforted the penitent by reading the following Psalm 1:1-6.

      “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

      For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
      Vohrovhehdev dehruh guh jahnchnah ahrtahrnehroun jahmpah
      Paiytz ahnpahristnehroun jahmpahn beedee gohrsehvee

      The last sentence of the quoted Psalm really affected the brother. He kept thinking about it over and over again. He did not think of himself as an evil man. He made a mistake that he couldn’t deny. Haiyr Mesrop gave him hope by reading the pertinent Bible quotes that made it clear that a sinner can be washed of his sins by the grace of the Lord.

      The priest began to read the prayers of Saint Narekgatsi, the tenth century Armenian saint and Christian mystic. He especially read Narek’s Prayer 47.

      Speaking with God from the Depths of the Heart


      What can I be, but speechless
      before your awesome might?
      What can I be but embarrassed and silent
      my words only quiet dust in my mouth,
      when I hope for virtue
      as the prophets advised?
      Even if I open my clamped lips,
      what would flow but more mournful elegies?
      Nothing but the voice of my many wounds
      pouring forth.


      And now, weeping with the great sinner,
      who willingly committed mortal sin,
      I join in his cry,
      “I have sinned, Lord, I have sinned,
      and to my lawlessness I myself am witness.”
      Weaving this cry with the words of the 50th Psalm,
      I conclude that the wages of my innumerable
      sins are greater
      than the grains of sand that make up the earth
      and are scattered by the wind.
      I have sinned against heaven and you.
      Like the Prodigal Son, who though shamed,
      received his father’s forgiveness,
      I make my entreaty, prostrate before you,
      my face twisted in grief, pleading:
      Father of compassion, God of all,
      I am not worthy to be called even a worthless,
      irresponsible hireling,
      let alone “son,” or even to have this word
      uttered about me.
      Still accept me, a wandering exile, defeated by wounds,
      faint with gnawing hunger.
      Heal me with your bread of life,
      confront me with mercy, for you are my first refuge.
      Clothe me, a lawless sinner, merciful and
      unvengeful God,
      with the clothes of my former innocence.
      Place, with your boundless generosity,
      the ring with your seal of courage
      on my sinful hand that lost everything by straying in sin.
      Protect the soles of my bare feet
      with the sandals of the Gospels.
      Guard me from poisonous snakes.
      And even though I am wanting in virtue
      you sacrifice the fatted calf of heaven,
      your only begotten Son, out of
      love for mankind.
      Your blessed Son who is always offered and
      yet remains whole,
      who is sacrificed continuously upon innumerable altars without being consumed,
      who is all in everyone and complete in all things,
      who is in essence of heaven and in reality of earth,
      who is lacking nothing in humanness and without
      defect in divinity,
      who is broken and distributed in individual parts,
      that all may be collected in the same body with
      him as head.
      Glory to you with him, Father most merciful.

      The brother was struck by Narek’s passionate appeal for the Lord to return his former innocence and stamp his sinful hand with the seal of courage. He wanted so much to mend his ways and become a trusted member of his village community.

      Haiyr Mesrop encouraged the brother to persevere and trust in the goodness of God’s forgiveness of sins. He said,

      Duhghahss, hahmpehreh vohr hahmuh pehreh – My son, be patient so the sweetness (of a pious life) comes upon you.

      Gahmatz gahmatz pahmbahguh guhlah mahnadz – slowly slowly the raw cotton becomes a thread.

      Gahtil gahtil kahvatuh guh letzvee – drop by drop the cup in filled.

      The priest’s words of wisdom inspired the brother to patiently believe in God’s good will. He gradually demonstrated his honesty and integrity by always being a hard working and faithful person. The seal on his head made him humble and without any pretension of being anything more than a sinner. The villagers began to respect him from a distance for his persistent good behavior. As the years rolled by, his reputation as a God-fearing good Christian and honest worker replaced the stigma of his youthful indiscretion.

      Many years later when the brother was an old man, a stranger visited his village and noted the strange S.T. on the elder’s forehead. He politely asked a neighbor of the brother
      What those letters meant. The neighbor said,

      “It is something that happen many years ago before I was born. I do not know the details of how he became branded with those letters. But I am convinced it is an abbreviation for the word saint because he is a wise and saintly man.”

      Through the saving grace of God, the sinner of today can become the saint of tomorrow.


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  • sin

    You had to commit three sins to catch my one sin

    Yerek meghk kordzetcheer vor im meg meghkuhs puhrness

    There was Muslim king who would disguise himself as a commoner and walk through his capital city observing whether his subjects were following the Koranic laws. One night he heard the singing of a drunkard. He found a house with its lights on with one window open.

    He quietly went to the side of the house and observed the drunken singer sitting at his kitchen table drinking wine. The disguised king climbed through the open window and surprised the drunk. “I have caught you, you culprit, breaking the Koranic law.” The drunk calmly looked at the intruder and said,

    “You have committed three sins to catch my one sin.”

    The king was shocked. The drunk continued,

    “You approached my house to spy on me. This is one sin.”

    “The prophet Mohamed says when entering a house go through the front door. You climbed through my window like a thief. This is a second sin.”

    “When saluting a fellow Muslim, praise the name of Allah. You shouted at me, I have caught you, you culprit. This is a third sin. So you committed three sins to catch my one sin.”

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    • What you do for your soul will better your heavenly goal

      eench dahss hohkout, ehn gehrtah ahrehvout

      Literally this proverb says, “What you give to your soul, goes to your sun.” Goes to your “sun” in Armenian implies “makes your life and destiny better.” The sun is the source of light. Knowledge comes from the light of God’s words. There is a play of words in English and Armenian when one refers to the sun. One can say in English that the similarity in the pronunciation of sun and son implies that the sun is a metaphor for Jesus Christ, the son of God. And in Armenian, the implication is that light emanates from the sun as Jesus came from God as His son to enlighten the world. Therefore, we can say that man’s destiny and eternal life is related to the sun (ahrehv in Armenian) which symbolically points to Christ the source of light for mankind. This is demonstrated by the Armenian sharaghan or holy chant that says ahrekaguhn ahrtahr ahrehv louiyss dzakyia/ pughouhm ee hohreh/ pughyia ee hohkoiyss/ pahn kehzz ee hahjouyss which means The sun has risen and lighted the firmament (implies Jesus has arisen from the dead to spread light) and we (as souls) have all come from God to serve and please Him (following Jesus).

    • The turtle and the ducks

      The turtle and the ducks

      There was a turtle of little wit
      bored of her pond, desired to quit
      See the wide world, mounts, rivers and vales
      Marvel splendors amidst nature’s trails

      She shared her desire with two ducks flying high
      Who agreed to carry her to Paris through the sky
      They said: “We’ll fly you to the banks of river Seine
      Where Eiffel Tower touches heaven, was built by men

      You’ll gaze on different races whose customs vary
      Who eat fine foods, colorfully dress and make merry
      The turtle agreed to transit to exotic, far lands
      While the ducks searched around for a strong branch

      Fortune shined for they found a sturdy rod for transport
      Cautioned the turtle to bite hard on it for support
      “Oh thick shell with four fins and blessed with a mighty mouth
      Don’t let go or you’ll hit the ground with a deadly clout.”

      The ducks each grabbed an end of the rod
      The turtle stared up and prayed to god
      Upward and onward the ducks flapped high
      Crossed seas and forests, they plied the sky

      Wherever they flew all stared amazed
      Raised their voices, cried aloud and dazed
      “The queen turtle has risen the sky.”
      Proud and impatient to make reply,

      She said, “Yes, I’m the queen, what’s it to you!”

      Better for her to journey quiet, closed lipped
      Enjoy her trip without losing her grip
      Wise to remain humble, not make facade
      Than let go one’s hold and slip from the rod.

      Down she fell forced by her weight and gravity
      bouncing from one hard rock to another heavily
      Broken and maimed she met death at the end game
      Sad is the plight who falls from such height, poor dame

      It is said, “Sweet speech is silver esteemed in days of old,
      But knowing the art of staying silent is better than gold.”
      One who is rash and cannot forbear
      Whose tongue unleashed lives without care
      Has certainly a dark destiny to suffer and bear
      I declare I understand this truth, I’ll forever beware


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    • Good decision or good choice

      lahv vohrohsoum – good decision
      lahv uhndroutioun – good choice

      A millionaire left a will. He had four sons. His will stipulated, “Each of my sons can choose one thing that he desires most of my estate. What remains shall be bequeathed to my personal slave who has served me faithfully.”

      The court appointed administrator asked the sons to choose the one thing they wanted most. One chose the father’s mansion, another a costly jewel, the third vast farmland.

      The fourth son chose to own his father’s personal slave. This seemed like a poor choice. But, on reflection it was the most astute one because by owning the slave, the fourth son became the owner of the entire estate remaining after his three brothers’ choices.

      Life always presents us with choices. The decisions we make are between short-term or long-term gain. We desire gain and then safety to protect our profits in order to enjoy them. All four sons had a choice to make for their gain. The first three chose the one thing they desired the most out of their father’s estate. Their choices were valuable material things. The fourth son chose his father’s trustworthy servant who would inherit all the remaining estate of the father after his son’s choices. This was a very astute choice because the father apparently appreciated and trusted his servant who served him faithfully for many years.

      This story has an important message. On one level, it conveys the message that becoming a faithful and competent servant can endear the master to the point that he may favor him over his own family members. A good servant can win the heart of his master. In Biblical history, we have examples of Abraham, Noah, and Jesus who all served God faithfully and were bestowed immortal blessings. Joseph served the Pharaoh of Egypt and was rewarded with royal status although he began as a slave.

      The fourth son’s choice of the slave has a deeper meaning. The crucial choice in life is between material gain or spiritual enlightenment. I experienced this earlier in my life when I had to make an important decision between furthering my material achievements in life or pursuing a spiritual path by humbling myself to a genuine servant of God and learning how to also become a servant. A successful person in this world is one who gains mastery over material possessions and uses them to gain power and fame and eventually adoration. In spiritual life, however, one can gain mastery over oneself by becoming the humble servant of God’s faithful servant. It is said,
      “Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”(BG 4.34) One must approach the true servant of God with a submissive attitude, ask important questions and offer service. Such behavior by the student creates a favorable atmosphere to ask questions and get the correct answers from a genuine seer of the truth or spiritual master. One learns to be a loyal servant of God by serving the genuine servant of God.

      There is a proverb that says, “The mother teaches the new daughter-in-law by instructing her daughter.” Similarly, God instructs the world through the humble and dedicated behavior of His genuine servant, who acts as the spiritual master of aspirants to the truth. One who approaches the spiritual guide by submissiveness, inquiries and service will be blessed to understand the following: “Having obtained real knowledge from a self-realized soul, you will never fall again into such illusion, for by this knowledge you will see that all living beings are but part of the Supreme, or, in other words, that they are Mine.” (BG 4.35)

      When one is enlightened by a bona fide teacher of spirituality, one learns to see all living beings as belonging to God’s eternal family. The sense of existence apart or separated from God is illusion. Just as in the family there is a mother and father, God is the original father of everyone and everything. He expands His infinite spiritual and material energies and manifests the spiritual world and the material world. Those eternal souls that are surrendered to God reside in the spiritual world. The material world is the place where rebellious living entities are placed to be gradually reformed like prisoners in a jail. The jail is the temporary material body and the shackles are the forces (or modes) of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance) forcing the body to gradually grow and deteriorate all the while being subject to happiness and suffering.
      The dualities of happiness and suffering, cold and heat, riches and poverty, love and hate keep the living entities bewildered. Only a very few living entities are able to take advantage of a genuine teacher and free themselves from reactive work by developing genuine love of God and all living entities. By such love and dedicated service to God such liberated souls are able to help others to enlightenment.

      Everything that emanates from God is eternal. Only the activities of the living entities are not eternal. The material nature, time, the living entities and God are all eternal. When an eternal living entity decides to separate himself from God, he leaves the spiritual world and comes into the material world where he can attempt to imitate God by controlling and enjoying a part of the material energy. But such a futile attempt only leads to frustration after experiencing temporary success. The material body of the living entity is subject to birth, death, old age and disease and eventually it withers away and the living entity is forced to take another body to continue his escapade in the material world. It is only when he becomes self realized by associating with a genuine teacher or servant of God that he can liberate himself from such illusory entanglement and return to the eternal world.

      There has always existed a contrast between what is permanent and impermanent, or permanence and change. Most people are concerned with the impermanent and hope desperately to make it permanent. This desire is impossible to achieve. Although the material energy is permanent, the transformations of it by man will always remain impermanent. No amount of intelligent adjustment can transform the material creations of man into something permanent.

      In the ancient wisdom it is said, “Those who know the truth understand that of the impermanent (the material body and all things material) there is no endurance and of the permanent (the soul and all things spiritual) there is no change. They have concluded this by studying the nature of both.”

      The ancient Greeks discussed permanence and change. The Greek philosopher Heraclites propounded the theory that everything in this world is in a state of flux or change, “”Ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers .” Plato interrupted Heraclites views as “Everything changes and nothing remains still.” In contrast the Greek philosopher Parmenides set forth the doctrine of permanence. He explained, “reality is one, change is impossible, and existence is timeless, uniform, and unchanging.” Parmenides considered the material world perceived through the senses as illusory appearances that deceive the common man.

      Parmenides believed that the ultimate eternal reality is an unchanging, ungenerated, indestructible whole state of existence that may be described as an undifferentiated oneness. The world of appearances (the material world) in which there was movement, change and duality was an illusion and only the state of static eternal oneness was real.

      Both Heraclites and Parmenides had significant partial realizations of the truth of existence. But, their understandings were incomplete. The following story illustrates this point.

      Once there was a town that was connected to the railway line. The designated day arrived when the first train would pull into the town. Many villagers from surrounding villages excitedly dressed up in the their best clothes and came to town for the festive occasion. They had only heard of the train, but never seen it. They waited with excited anticipation at the train station.

      From the distance of at least a half a mile the townsfolk heard the train whistle blow a shrill high pitched note that scared the wits out of everyone. All eyes turned toward the distant approach of the train. One group of spectators from a mountain village near the town heard the whistle and saw a black cloud of smoke.” They reported back to their family and friends in their village that didn’t come that the train was a dangerous black cloud like a tornado. It made a horrible noise that scared everyone.

      The train continued its approach to the town. Just outside the limits of the town, the train spewed a thick black cloud of smoke from its boiler. Sparks and occasional flames jumped from its chimney. The engineer of the train continued to blow the train whistle without stop. The spectators could feel the ground vibrating like an earthquake. A second group of villagers became so frightened that they also hurriedly left in a state of panic just before the train pulled into a full stop. They were convinced it was a black, iron demon spitting flames and smoke and so heavy it was could cause an earthquake.

      The remaining spectators were frightened by the spectacle of the arriving train. They didn’t know what to expect. Many stepped back as far as they could from the train station waiting to see if they should run away like the other villagers. When the train came to a full stop, they were amazed to see that there were many people like themselves waving to them from the train. They observed that the train was a series of different vehicles connected by metal hinges. There was an engine car with a furnace and a smiling engineer with black faced assistants. The other cars were filled with passengers, cargo and mail. The atmosphere became festive as the passengers poured out of the train cars. The townsfolk and remaining villagers mounted the train and looked in amazement at the metal and wood construction that seemed so frightening from a distance. They welcomed the passengers and questioned the engineer and his assistants. Their fears were dissipated and they realized that the train was a useful invention made by intelligent men.

      The ancient Greek philosophers had realizations of the truth of the universe, but it was incomplete. They were like the villagers that observed the train from a distance. The limits of intellectualism are due to four fundamental defects every human being has. They are,
      1- mistakes – due to imperfect hearing or seeing
      2- illusion – accepting a mistake as the truth
      3- imperfect and limited senses
      4- tendency to cheat.
      These four defects disqualify a human being from arriving at perfect knowledge either by intellectual or experimental means. The ancient Greeks depended entirely on observation and reasoning to arrive at knowledge. In the story of the train and the townsfolk, observation led to three levels of knowledge. The group of villagers that left first thought the train was a dangerous black cloud like a tornado. The second group of villagers that left thought the train was a black, iron demon spitting flames and smoke and so heavy it was could cause an earthquake. The third group observed that the train was a series of vehicles that were connected. There was an engine car and passenger cars, and cargo cars, etc. And there were many passengers or people like themselves.

      The first group had an impersonal realization. The second group had a nebulous personal realization and the third group had a definite personal realization of the train. The impersonal realization remains blind to the fact that behind every manifestation there must be a person who is the prime mover or creator. A nebulous personal realization can discern someone behind the phenomenon but cannot see clearly who it is. The personal realization knows without a doubt that behind every movement or organized structure there are intelligent persons.

      The third group had more knowledge of the train than the first two groups, but their knowledge was still incomplete. Although they knew more about the train, they still did not understand all the technology that produced the train. Such knowledge would require many years of training by expert teachers to fully understand the functioning of the train and the depth of organization by intelligent people required to create and manage the useful functioning of it.

      The Vedic knowledge states that there are three levels of understanding God: impersonal, localized presence of God in the heart of every living being and the Supreme Personality of God who is the origin, controller and maintainer of everyone and everything. The impersonal understanding of God can be attained with personal endeavor. Just as we see sunlight that is the source of energy and potential in this world, we can understand that there is an all-pervading spiritual energy that supports and sustains all life. Beyond the impersonal realization, we may attain the awareness that there exists a localized presence of God in the heart of every living being and even in every atom of the universe. Beyond these two levels of understanding, it is impossible to access the understanding of God as the Supreme Person from whom everything emanates and yet He remains perfect and complete as the infinite source. His individuality and personality are always perfect and complete and everything that emanates from Him is also perfect and complete. Without help from an expert and perfect teacher it is impossible to understand the transcendental nature of the Supreme Person as the cause of all causes, omnipotent and possessing all fame, wealth, knowledge, power, beauty and renunciation. The name Krishna indicates in Sanskrit the person who possesses these aforementioned six opulences. Only one who is completely dedicated to God with love and devotion and pleases Him is such knowledge revealed. It is impossible to understand the transcendental nature of God by using the blunt senses or imperfect reasoning. Revealed knowledge is the ultimate mercy of God to his sincere devotee.

      Returning to the story of the deceased millionaire and his four sons, the last son that chose his father’s servant and thus inherited all the remaining assets of his father was the wisest of the sons. Similarly, in life each of us chooses what he desires the most. Some choose wealth, others knowledge, or family, fame, etc. But the person that chooses the loyal servant of God and accepts to learn from him how to serve God purely is the wisest of all. Such a person will inherit the
      greatest assets of the God the Father, namely eternal life in the spiritual world.

    • Choosing death – mahuh uhnduhrehl

      Once the Indian court jokester Gopal Bhan went too far in ridiculing the king who flew into a rage. The monarch ordered that Gopal Bhan be killed for disrespect. The court jester begged the king to remember all the service he had rendered him in the past. He requested that the king permit him (Gopal) to choose the way he should die. The king agreed to grant him his wish.

      Gopal Bhan said, “Your Majesty, let me die of old age.”

    • When he sees water he becomes a fish, and a hole he becomes a mouse

      chouruh dehsneh tzoug guhlah, dzaguh dehsneh moug

      This proverb describes a very shrewd, opportunist person who adapts his behavior according to the situation.

    • He’s got a thousand tongues in his mouth

      Perneen metch hazar lezou gah

      When a person craftily and even deceptively uses language to win an argument, they may be described as having a thousand tongues. They can say anything to win regardless if it is truthful or not.

    • The clever man cheated the devil

      Jarbiguh sadanan khapets

      While walking from one town to another a man encountered the devil that began to walk with him. The devil asks the traveler a question.

      “Friend, don’t you think walking side by side like this is tiresome and boring?

      The traveler replied, “Do you know another way to make this journey more pleasing?”


      “Well tell me.”

      “One of us can ride on the shoulders of the other. The rider can sing a song and when it is finished, they can change places, and so on. Do you agree?”

      “Yes I do,” said the clever man to the devil. “But who should ride first?”

      “Since I thought of the plan, I should go first,” said the devil.

      “I agree,” said the clever man.

      The devil got on the shoulders of the clever man and sand a song that lasted three minutes, and then got off the clever man’s back. The clever man got on the devil’s shoulders and began to sing,

      “Der voghormyia der voghormyia” After a long time, the devil asks, “Friend, what kind of song are you singing, it doesn’t seem to end.”

      “The name of the song is God have mercy on me, we can never stop singing this song,” replies the clever man and continues to sing while remaining on the shoulders of the devil until they arrive at their destination.

    • He can get water from a stone

      Karhen chour hanetz

      This expresses the idea of remarkable ingenuity as the previous proverb.

    • He makes good flutes out of the dead trunk of a tree

      Chor dzaren duduk guh haneh

      This saying applies to very industrious and cleaver persons who can make good flutes out of the dead trunk of a tree.

      There was once a boy who was very poor. He had a rich uncle. He went to see his uncle to ask for a loan. When the uncle heard his plea he frowned. He asked the boy to step outside on the sidewalk.

      The uncle picked up a dead rat on the street and said to the boy, “You want some capital to start a business? Well, here it is.” He flung the dead rat at the boy and went back into his house and shut the door. The boy ducked down and the rat flew over his head. He shouted thanks to his Uncle and picked up the rat. He walked to the municipal health department where a reward was given for every dead rat brought there. The boy was paid a few cents for the rat.

      He took the small amount of money and purchased a small amount of grain from a wholesale grain merchant. He went door to door and sold the grain. With the profit and the capital he continued to purchase grain and sell it for many years until he was able to amass a large fortune.

      He began a family tradition of placing a sum of money in the bank at the birth of a new family member and letting the money accrue interest until the child attained adulthood. The interest and capital were given to the young adult and not a penny more. It was up to the young man or woman to use the same ingenuity as the family elder to amass their fortune.

      This proverb refers to such ingenious persons who can make good flutes out of dead trees or make profit from a seemingly hopeless situation.

    • Measure it a thousand times because you can only cut it once

      Hazar unkam chapeh meg unkam gudereh

      My father and Uncle Kevork were both tailors. This proverb is a typical tailor’s wisdom. “Measure it a thousand times because you can only cut it once.”

      Before you embark on an adventure, carefully weigh or consider all the consequences because once you start, you may not be able to retrace your steps back to where you started. A cultured person will always carefully think about the consequences of his actions before doing anything. Desire, lust, greed, and intoxication can cloud a person’s mind and thwart their careful consideration of consequences.

      Uncle Kevork was an example of such a person. He was very thrifty and tight-fisted about money. Many times he refused to loan money to his own family members. He refused my brothers when they proposed a plan to buy a hotel in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He told them “Khelkis chi bargeerah.” Yet, he consented to give me money for my university education.

      His greatest long term investment was donating over $ 10,000 to have the community hall of St. Gregory’s Armenian Church of Philadelphia named after his family name, “Terhanian Hall.” This was his shrewdest investment that has perpetuated his family name. To make this donation he had to ignore the opposition of his wife. He had the foresight to see the long term good of such a donation.

      There is another proverb in Armenian that says: “Ahchguht gehlleh, anounut chehleh – You can lose an eye, but your good name (or reputation) will always stay.” Uncle Kevork wisely chose to make the donation and perpetuate his family’s good name after weighing the consequences. He still left his wife and daughter most of his wealth, but the $ 10,000 donation has maintained his family’s good name.

    • It doesn’t sleep well in my mind.

      Khelkis chi bargeerah

      My Uncle Kevork would sometimes use this diplomatic phrase to free himself from an impending obligation like loaning money. He was once invited to dinner by an Armenian family, whose business was expanding. They were also on the brink of bankruptcy because of not being able to supply their customers. They invited Uncle Kevork for an old fashion Armenian dinner and honored him in many ways so that he would consent to loan them money. Uncle Kevork had worked hard and gradually built up a savings. After dinner, the hopeful business family proposed their plan for developing their growing business and asked Uncle Kevork if he could loan them money. He deftly said “Khelkis chi bargeerah” which means literally (what you are telling me) does not sleep well in (the bed of) my mind or, I don’t quite understand what you are telling me. The business men tried over and over again to explain their proposal so that all aspects of the business venture were clear. Uncle Kevork’s only reply was khelkis chi bargeerah, which amounts to a polite, yet frustrating way of saying no. He did not want to say no directly, so he kept insisting that his mind could not comprehend their proposal. Uncle Kevork was never invited again by that family for an old fashion Armenian dinner.

      My mother once gave me her accumulated wisdom about how to deal with people who might approach me for borrowing money. She told me, if ever anyone asks you to borrow money, take out your handkerchief and begin to cry. Don’t stop crying until they go away. She asked, “Do you have a handkerchief?” I said no. “Immediately get one” she said. This was actually good advice.


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    • The rock is in his pocket

      kahruh dzotzehn eh

      When a person prepares a statement or retort beforehand and comes prepared to answer questions.

    • The eyes of the buyer are in the hands of the seller

      Ahrnogheen ahckuh, dzakhogheen tzehruhn guh leenee

    • Chakh chakh tahkavor – the hammermill king

      This is a story by Hohvahness Toumanian
      (chakh chakh is an approximation of the sound that the wheel of a grain mill makes when turning)

      There was and there was not a poor miller. He wore a torn sheep skin and wool coat, a flour dusty cloth covered his hair. He lived on the bank of a river in a dilapidated mill. He had an ashen, unleavened loaf of bread and a piece of cheese.

      One day he went outside to release some water from the mill. When he returned, his cheese was missing. Another time, he went outside to let more water run into his mill. When he returned, the bread was gone. He thought, “Is there someone or is there not someone doing this mischief?” He thought and thought. Then he set a trap inside the mill and went to sleep. The next morning, he woke up to find a fox caught in the trap.

      “Hey, you foul thief, you ate my cheese and bread. Hey, now I’ll show you what it is like to be a piece of stolen cheese. Saying this, the miller picked up a metal bar to smash to death the fox. The fox began to beg and plead: “Please don’t kill me for a little piece of cheese. Get me out of this trap and I’ll do many good things for you.’

      The miller listened attentively and finally let the fox out of the trap.

      The fox went away to a trash dump. It happened to be the dump where the palace waste of that country’s king was deposited. The fox walked and rummaged in the waste piles. The wily animal found a gold piece. He quickly ran toward the palace to talk to the king.

      The fox addressed the king: “May the king live long (takavoruhn ahbradz gehnah), please loan me your large weighing bowl (gohduh – a large bowl of specific size used for weighing large quantities of gold and other precious items of value). The hammermill king has a certain quantity of gold. I’ll weigh it and bring back to you.

      Tell me, who is this hammermill king? asked the local king who appeared perplexed and surprised.

      “You don’t know him yet,” answered the fox. The hammermill king is a very wealthy monarch and I am his vizer (chief minister). Please give me the bowl. I’ll go weigh the gold, then you’ll know who he is.

      The fox took the weighing bowl. He devised a clever plan. He stuck the gold coin he found in the dump into a crevice of the bowl. The fox came back that evening to return the weighing bowl.

      “Oh,” said the fox. “We had a hard time weighing all that gold.”

      “It’s hard to believe this fox needs such a big weighing bowl to measure the hammermill king’s gold,” thought the king. He struck the bowl with his hand. It made a hallow sound and the gold coin fell out of the crevice of the bowl. The king picked it up.

      A couple of days later, the fox came back to ask another favor of the king. He said, “My hammermill king has a quantity of precious jewels and natural pearls. Please loan me your weighing bowl again and I’ll bring it back tonight after weighing them. The fox picked up the large bowl and went away. The fox was able to find a pearl. He stuck it into another crevice of the weighing bowl. He brought it back that evening.

      “Oh,” said the fox. “We nearly died weighing all those precious jewels.”

      Later, the king slapped the bowl and a precious pearl fell out of one of the crevices. The king was stunned. He thought to himself. “How much wealth must this hammermill king have? He needs such a big weighing bowl to measure his gold, precious jewels and pearls.”

      Several days passed. One day the fox came to see the king to arrange a marriage. The fox: “The hammermill king has a desire to marry. He would like to marry your daughter.”

      The king became very pleased. He felt like the whole world belonged to him.

      “Go right away,” he said. “Go quickly. See that all the preparations are made for the wedding.” The king’s place was turned upside down in the excitement of preparation for the marriage. Everything down to the finest detail was made ready. The fox rushed back to the hammermill king. He wanted to give him the good news (the way to announce good news in Armenian is to say “may your eyes light up” – ahckuht louyees).

      The fox said, “Well, well, my friend, I asked the king to let you marry his daughter. He agreed. Get ready. You are going to get married now.”

      “My God,” exclaimed the hammermill king. “May your house crumble to the ground, you crazy fox.” (kou dounut kahntvee – may your house crumble to the ground is a phrase of disapproval in Armenian).

      “What have you done,” said the frightened miller. “Who am I to merit marrying the king’s daughter.” (when making a comparison of two unequal things or persons in Armenian, one says: yes ohv, tahkavoreen aghckuh ohv – who am I and who is the king’s daughter).

      “I have no income, no house or property, and no decent clothes. Now tell me, what am I to do?” (votch ahbrusst ounehm, votch dounn ou degh, votch mee tzehrk shohr. Heemee yes inch ahnehm?)

      “Don’t be afraid, I’ll make all the necessary arrangement,” said the fox. He tried to allay the anxiety of the destitute miller. The fox ran back to the king’s palace. He spoke with the king. “Oh my god, the hammermill king organized a grand procession to come here for the marriage. On the road, a large number of enemy soldiers suddenly surrounded the king’s procession, killed many of the king’s guards and stole everything of value. Fortunately, the king escaped unharmed and is hiding in an abandoned mill on the bank of a creek. He sent me to give you the bad news and also fetch some clean clothes to get married. After the marriage, he wants to get revenge for such an insult by giving hot pursuit of the perpetrators. The king immediately got everything ready for the fox to deliver to the hammermill king. He ordered a large contingent of his mounted soldiers to accompany the fox so that his future son-in-law could be escorted with royal pomp and honor to be married.

      The fox and the soldiers arrived at the door of the dilapidated mill. The poor miller quickly took off his rough sheepskin coat and put on the royal clothes. He mounted a stately horse . He was surrounded by the mounted honor guard. Ahead of him were the mounted soldiers and behind as well. The procession parted toward his future father-in-law’s palace. They arrived at the richly endowed palace. The poor miller had never seen such dazzling opulence. He stared at all four corners of the palace with an air of confusion, his mouth open and at times touching and looking at his royal clothing in disbelief and astonished beyond his wits.

      “Brother fox, why is your king staring at everything as if he has never seen a royal house,” asked the king? “It seems as if your king has never seen a palace before nor worn royal robes.”

      “No sire, it is not that at all,” replied the wily fox. “He is observing carefully and comparing your palace and possessions to his and thinking how extensive his opulent possessions are compared to yours.” (teh eehr ounehtzadzuh vohr degh, ehss vor degh – his opulence is so much and this your’s seems so little)

      They sat down for a royal dinner. Many different types of foods were served. The simple miller couldn’t choose which one to eat, nor how to eat it.

      “Why is he not eating, brother fox,” asked the king?

      “He is sadly reflecting on the robbery that took place when he began he was coming here. You can’t even imagine, my dear sire, how valuable were the things that were stolen, and how nasty and demeaning is was for my king. How can he eat in peace now,” said the fox with a sigh of frustration.

      “Don’t fret for that, leave your worries aside, my dear son-in-law. This is the way of the world. Sometimes these things happen.” The king tried to console his son-in-law. “This is your wedding! Let us be happy. Let’s have a good time now.”

      They began to regale with joy. They ate, drank, play musical instruments and dance. They continued the marriage festivities for seven days and seven nights. The fox became the best man for the hammermill king.

      After the wedding festivities, the king gave a huge dowry for his daughter to his son-in-law. With great pomp and merriment the king accompanied the newly weds to the palace of the hammermill king.

      “All of you proceed together. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. I’ll go ahead and get everything ready at my king’s palace for your grand reception there,” said the best man. The fox ran as fast as he could until he reached a pasture where a large herd of cows were grazing. He asked the cow herders, “Who owns these cows?” They answered, “Shah Mar.”

      “Don’t you dare repeat Shah Mar’s name again!” said the fox. “My king is very upset with him. He is coming behind me with a large army. Whoever repeats the name of Shah Mar will have his head cut off. If you are asked who these cows belong to, say the hammermill king. If you don’t, the devil will take you to hell.” (teh cheh, vaduhn (sadahnahn – devil) yegehl eh tehz dahnehl – if not, misery will be your lot (literally misery will take you)

      The fox continued to ran faster and faster. He saw a flock of sheep mounting the steeps of a mountain.

      He asked, “Who do these sheep belong to?â”The sheepherders answered, “Shah Mar.” The fox instructed the sheepherders in the same way as the cowherds.

      The fox continued to run and run He came upon vast cultivated agricultural fields with the farmers and laborers working.

      “Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox. They said, “Shah Maree.” The fox instructed the farmers in the same way.

      He ran and ran. He encountered expansive fields of hay. “Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox.

      The hay gatherers said, “Shah Mar’s.” He instructed them as he did the others.

      The fox finally reached Shah Mar’s palace.

      “Shah Mar, O Shah-Mar,” called the fox as he ran toward to king. “May your house not be destroyed. You are innocently unaware of the evil that is looming. The king is upset with you. He is approaching your palace with a large army bent of killing you and pillaging everything you have and leaving only desolation and despair. You may not remember, but once I ate a little chick in your company. I have never forgotten your generosity and the good taste of that meal. That is why I have come running in great haste to give you this dire news. You must quickly get out of here by any means before that terrible tyrant reaches your palace.”

      “What can I do? Where will I go?” asked the frightened Shah Mar. He could see the rising cloud of dust of a large number of men and horses of the invading king in the horizon.

      “Run, get away as fast as possible with a sturdy horse. Go far away from this doomed land, and don’t look back.”

      Shah Mar mounted his best horse and escaped as fast as he could from his domain

      The wedding party and the troops approached the palace of Shah Mar. They were sounding off trumpets, banging on drums, singing as loud as possible while surrounded by a huge contingent of mounted and armed soldiers. The riflemen continually shot rounds of bullets into the air. There was am awful din of noise.

      The hammermill king and his wife were riding in a gold-plated chariot There was a multitude of soldiers in front and back of their chariot. The troops reached a large field where they saw a herd of cows pasturing. The mounted troops asked the cowherd men: “Whose cows are these?”

      “The hammermill king’s cows,” answered the cowherds.

      They continued on their path. They arrived at a large area of cultivated land.

      They asked the farmers: “Who owns these abundant fields?”

      “The hammermill king,” they replied.

      They continued on and reached the vast fields of hay.

      They asked the laborers: “Who is the owner of these fields?”

      “The hammermill king,” they replied.

      All were astonished. The hammermill king was on the verge of losing his mind. He couldn’t believe his ears.

      The troops arrived Shah-Mar’s palace. The best man fox was already established as the master of the palace. He had made all the appropriate preparations and received the honored guests and newly found relatives. They all began the joyful festivities.

      For seven days and seven nights they enjoyed themselves royally. After the festivities ended the guests returned to their kingdom. The hammermill king along with his wife and his best man, the fox, live now in Shah-Mar’s palace. Until this very day, Shah-Mar is still running frightened out of wits of the hammermill king.

    • An Armenian fable – The wolf and the lamb

      There was a lamb that lived in a garden and shed
      She ate green grass and was well fed
      One day a wicked wolf entered her world
      Grabbed her soft body, but no one heard

      The lamb fell on her knees cried and said
      I have no strength to oppose you, I’m dead
      But before I go please grant me a last wish
      Which will give me solace before your death kiss

      “I’ve heard from my elders wolves can trumpet so sweet
      That the melodies they play and croon are a real treat
      Please, trumpet for me a tune that will prepare my eternal rest
      That I may go with the sound in my ears and be forever blessed.”

      The wolf was flattered, he curved his neck upward, began to howl
      Frightful sound that alerted the guard dogs who came with a growl
      The dogs bit the wolf who ran away as fast as he could
      Across the field, over the hill into the dark thicket and wood.

      The wolf circled this way and that lamenting his foolish vanity
      “When did a butcher become a trumpeter? What insanity!
      If I want to eat a tasty lamb, I shouldn’t be delayed by flattery
      But lo is me, I have been outsmarted by the lamb’s chicanery.”

    • The tiger and the fox

      vahkruh yehv ahghvehssuh

      ahnohtee vahkruh vohrss guh puhnduhrehr. ahghvehss muh puhrnetz
      A hungry tiger was looking for prey. He caught a fox.

      toun chehss guhrnahr zees oudehl, uhsahv aghvehssuh
      “You cannot eat me,” said the fox.
      “Why,” said the tiger
      meetheh toun chehss keedehr aiyt
      “Perhaps you don’t know why,” said the fox.
      “No, I don’t,” said the tiger.

      vohr aiytbehss eh. yehghour yehrthahnk, yehv toun beedee dehssnehss teh eenchbes pohlohr
      gehntaheenehruh sahssdeek vaghtzahdz guh pakhcheen eentzmeh, uhsahv ahghvehssuh
      “It is like this. Come, let’s go and you will see how all the forest animals are
      horribly frightened and run away from me,” said the fox.

      yehv ahnohnk meeahsseen katzeen ahndahruh.
      And they went together into the forest.

      eerok pohlohr kahzahnnehruh guh pakhcheheen.
      In effect, all the wild animals fled on sight.

      paiytz vahkruh chee hahguhtzahv vohr ahnonk eermeh guh vakhnahyeen.
      But the tiger did not understand that they (the animals) were afraid of him.

      ahn gahrdzehtz teh pohlohruh ahghvehessehn guh vakhnahyeen, eehnkuhn ahl toghoutz ahghvehessuh yehv hehratzahv
      He thought that all(the animals) were afraid of the fox. He also left the fox and went away.

    • It doesn’t sleep well in my mind.

      Khelkis chi bargeerah

      My Uncle Kevork would sometimes use this diplomatic phrase to free himself from an impending obligation like loaning money. He was once invited to dinner by an Armenian family, whose business was expanding. They were also on the brink of bankruptcy because of not being able to supply their customers. They invited Uncle Kevork for an old fashion Armenian dinner and honored him in many ways so that he would consent to loan them money. Uncle Kevork had worked hard and gradually built up a savings. After dinner, the hopeful business family proposed their plan for developing their growing business and asked Uncle Kevork if he could loan them money. He deftly said “Khelkis chi bargeerah” which means literally (what you are telling me) does not sleep well in (the bed of) my mind or, I don’t quite understand what you are telling me. The business men tried over and over again to explain their proposal so that all aspects of the business venture were clear. Uncle Kevork’s only reply was khelkis chi bargeerah, which amounts to a polite, yet frustrating way of saying no. He did not want to say no directly, so he kept insisting that his mind could not comprehend their proposal. Uncle Kevork was never invited again by that family for an old fashion Armenian dinner.

      My mother once gave me her accumulated wisdom about how to deal with people who might approach me for borrowing money. She told me, if ever anyone asks you to borrow money, take out your handkerchief and begin to cry. Don’t stop crying until they go away. She asked, “Do you have a handkerchief?” I said no. “Immediately get one” she said. This was actually good advice.


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    • They eat the best part of the crap (shit)

      kahkeen lahv mahssuh goudehn

    • Half the face of a beggar is shamed, but, for a man who refuses to give in charity, his whole face

      ouzogheen mee yehrehsuhn eh sehv, chee duhvogheen yehrgoussuh

    • He spits in the wind and says it is raining

      Hov uh tuhkereh, ahntzev goukah uhshereh

    • he passes stool in the same well that he draws water to drink

      My mother would sometimes use this saying to describe exceptionally stupid people. It says, “Hoorin mecheh guh kakneh hedo chouruh guh khmeh – he passes stool in the same well that he draws water to drink.”

      She would use a variant of this which says, “Hooruh kaknogh khent eh – he is a crazy fool who passes stool in his drinking well.”

      The utter foolishness of self-defeating behavior is emphasized. The example of the camel that likes to eat thorny bushes corresponds to this proverb. While chewing on thorny bushes, the thorns cut the camel’s tongue and it tastes its own blood. The camel likes the taste of its own blood. The camel undermines its well being by savoring the perverted taste for its own blood. This applies also to people who are addicted to obsessive sex (or drugs, etc.).

      For a man (or woman) to make sperm (or vital sexual fluids), it is necessary to eat nutritious foods. It takes two pounds or more of healthy food to make one drop of blood and about forty drops of blood to make one drop of sperm. If a person regularly wastes their sperm (or vital sexual fluids), then they are compared to the camel who enjoys eating its own blood.

      Too frequent sexual activity depletes the body of vital energy and life force that is maintained by sperm and vital fluids. This reduces the life span of a person and compromises good health. Self-destructive behavior is characteristic of foolish or crazy people. In villages certain wells were designated for activity. For example, one well was used for washing clothes and one for drinking water, etc. Yet, there is a saying in India, whatever purpose is achieved by a small body of water can equally be served by a large one. If I wash in one well and drink from another, I can also go to the river and accomplish both purposes. Rivers are always clean (if they are not purposely contaminated by large industry and agriculture) because the waters are always running swiftly with good current. So all purposes served by a well can be equally and better served by a river.

      In life we seek to accomplish our goals usually for our own self-interest. Yet, if we recognize that we are all part of God’s creation and work for the common good, then we benefit not only ourselves but all others.

      The beginning of wisdom is to understand that God is the original father of all living beings. We are all members of the same family. Artificially excluding some people from the family of God is the beginning of racism and prejudice. In the eyes of God, we are all members of His family. If I see otherwise, I begin to pass stool in the well I drink from or attempt to contaminate the natural brotherhood of all creatures with false concepts of exclusivity.

      Racism and nationalism are false concepts of exclusivity that eventually undermine our hopes to live peacefully in this world. Honoring cultural traditions based on universal spiritual truth is not the same as racism or nationalism.

      Practicing and sharing my cultural traditions with others is enriching my life and the life of others. In return, others can share their traditions with me. Insisting that one race or nation is better than another is simply contaminating the natural brotherhood of all God’s creations.

      The question may be posed, “What are universal spiritual truths.” These truths are self-evident and exist in every tradition. For example, “Thou shall not kill” is one such universal truth. This truth must be understood in the context of the eternal soul. All living being including animals, birds, insects, fish, reptiles, etc., are individuals who possess a soul. The symptom of the individual soul’s presence in a particular body is consciousness. All souls have a destiny to fulfill. Their destiny may be limited by the type of body they possess. Only the human body is favorable and fully equipped for fulfilling
      one’s ultimate destiny, which is to free oneself of all illusion and repeated birth and death by developing pure love of God.

      By unnecessary killing of animals, plants, etc., we abort their gradual evolution to the human form where they can attempt to escape the interminable cycle of birth and death. “Thou shalt not kill,” must be understood in its widest sense that I should avoid killing all beings, not only human beings. A good example of this is Adam and Eve before their fall from the Garden of Eden. Their eating habits were completely nonviolent. By eating the fruits of tree they avoided killing the tree and also killing the fruit. They ate only the pulp of the fruit and spit out the seed on the ground. The seed sprouted and another tree grew that produced thousands of more fruit. Rather than abort the life cycle of living beings, they participated in the proliferation of Nature’s bounty by nonviolent eating. Such eating produced more opulence and helped all beings elevate themselves to a better destiny.

      The summary of universal spiritual truths can be easily stated as four basic principles; austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness.

      Austerity means one respects the sanctity of all life and strictly follows the principles of religion without infringing on the rights of others. The highest principle of austerity is to perform only those acts that are pleasing to God.

      Cleanliness means to follow the rules of spiritual life. For external cleanliness, one should bath at least twice a day and eat only sanctified vegetarian foods that are wholesome and fresh. For internal cleanliness, one may always hear and chant the glories of God in the company of other faithful friends. Sex out of wedlock, alcohol and drugs, meat-eating and gambling or philosophical speculation destroy external and internal cleanliness.

      Sharing knowledge of God in an affectionate and humble way is an example of mercy. Following the word of God and demonstrating it by helping others and especially the less fortunate is mercy. Mercy is destroyed by intoxication. One should avoid all forms of intoxication even coffee and tea. One is merciful by avoiding all forms of unnecessary violence in word or act and engaging is giving a positive example of respect and love for all God’s creation.

      Truthfulness is repeating the word of God and living it. Truthfulness is compromised by gambling, or speculation in philosophy. Philosophical speculation is pretending to know something and speaking in hypothetical ways using words as “maybe, if, perhaps, assume that, etc..” Giving an opinion that is not based on verifiable fact is speculation. Gambling is a way to make money without working and leads to being dishonest.

      When these four universal principles of religion are followed, then all men and women will live peacefully on this earth regardless of religious or ethnic differences. When one or more of these principles are violated, then there is trouble in one’s personal life and in society. We may talk of peace, but by disregarding the universal spiritual truths we pass stool into the well of world peace and harmony and then drink the infected water of war, racial and ethnic violence.


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  • sex

    Becoming agitated for sex is not very unusual, but to control it, that is the real thing (exceptional)

    mahrmuhnagan hahrapehroutyan badjahrov kuhrohvelh zahrmanahli cheh, paiytz aiyt tzahngoutiounuh yehntahrgeluh pahtzahreek eh

    Becoming agitated for sex is not very unusual, but to control it, that is the real thing (that is exceptional)

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    • All good qualities awaken in one who serves God faithfully

      All good qualities awaken in one who serves God faithfully.
      keedoutiahn pohlohr pahree hahdgoutiounnehruh zahrkahnoum yehn nuhrah mohd, ohv hahsehl eh hahvahdahreem dzahraiyoutiahn ahsteejahnuh

      There was and there wasn’t a poor Armenian family. The father’s name was Hampar (short for Hampartzoum which means the resurrection of Christ in Armenian). The mother’s name was Vehanouh which means the sweetest person you can meet. Their only son was named Krikor. He was named after the most famous saint of Armenia, Krikor Lousahvoritch (Krikor or Saint Gregory the Illuminator). They were loyal members of their church and attended the mass every Sunday. They prayed that Lord Jesus bless their child and also give them health to work hard and earn an honest living.

      The father and mother toiled long hours on hand looms making kilims or oriental rugs. When Krikor was five years old, they also taught him how to work a small child’s loom. It would take three to six months to finish a rug and then Hampar had to struggle to sell it. After tens years, the family was able to save an adequate amount of money to build a small house on a plot of land in their ancestral village.

      Hampar slowly built the house with the help of relatives. He used what little spare time he had to work on it. It took three years to finish it. The day the family moved into their new house, Vehanoush had an eerie premonition. That night she dreamed that the house would burn down. The dream reoccurred for three days. She discussed her dream with Hampar. He was horrified. They had struggled so hard and long to have their own house. What to do? His wife was very worried and her anxiety affected Hampar. He went to a village fortune teller. An old woman who was expert at reading the coffee grinds left over in a cup after drinking Turkish coffee. She concurred that the house would soon burn down.

      Hampar decided to sell the house. It took one month to find a buyer and agree on a fair price. He was able to get back the money he spent to build it. The family moved out of the house and back into the small rented cottage they lived in before. Soon after a group of marauding thieves robbed the new inhabitants of the house and set it on fire. It burned to the ground. It was a shock to everyone except Hampar and Vehanoush.

      Although they felt relieved at selling the house and retrieving their hard earned money, they both became anxious. They locked the door and closed all the windows of their cottage. They were frightened that the thieves might come to rob and maybe kill them because they had all the cash from the sale of their house hidden in the cottage. What if the family that purchased their house told the thieves that Hampar and Vehanoush had the cash from the recent sale? They couldn’t sleep all night. The next day, they both went to a wealthy local merchant who was known as an honest man. His name was Hrant Agha. They explained their fear of being robbed. Hrant Agha reassured them of his trustworthiness. They entrusted their savings with him and he issued them a receipt. They returned home feeling safe and relieved of their anxiety.

      Several days later, during the darkness of night, the same group of thieves attacked the compound of Hrant Agha and forced him to open his safe and robbed him of all his money. Hearing this devastating news the next day, Hampar and Vehanoush ran to Hrant Agha’s house to find out about their money. The Agha had been beaten and was in no condition to see them. They worried about their money day and night. After a few days they were able to meet with Hrant Agha. He spoke slowly and gravely. He told them that they were very fortunate because he did not put their money in his safe. He had another safe in a secret place. He offered to return the money. Hampar and Vehanoush nearly fainted when they heard the good news.

      Hrant Agha gave them their money back. The two thanked him and left to return to their cottage. Again they felt anxiety and fear carrying the money. What to do? Perhaps they were next on the robbers’ list of victims. The next day, Hampar went to see the Armenian priest Haiyr Gomidas. When Hampar explained how much he was experiencing fear and anxiety about having his cash savings hidden in his cottage, the priest comforted him with the following words.

      “Hampar jahn, listen to me. We Armenians have always worked hard and stayed true to our Lord Jesus, our apostolic church, our forefathers, our mother tongue and its beautiful alphabet, our ancestral land and our honor. We have suffered many hardships as a conquered nation at the hands of the Romans, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Kurds and others who have all done horrible things to our people. Yet, we have somehow persevered and maintained our identity and self respect. Just as bad people are known by their cruelty, good people are known by their honorable and kind acts. We are born of the earth and we shall return to the earth, but our honor and good deeds will remain long after we are gone. Hampar jahn, you have always been an honest hard-working man. You have never been rich but yet, you have managed to live honorably and God has provided your minimum needs. Try to understand that your personal honor earned from years of honest work and good behavior is your real wealth.”

      “There was once a bird of prey that swooped down and caught a fish with its claws and started to fly back to its nest. A flock of wild crows pursued the bird which tried to escape their harassment. But everywhere the bird flew it was followed by the flock of crows that cawed and screeched. The bird became exhausted and let go of the fish. The crows forgot the bird of prey and flew toward the fish. The bird lost the fish, but felt relieved that it was no longer followed by the disturbing crows. It realized that the crows were interested in the fish above all.”

      “Hampar jahn, there is safety in humble living as long as you are able to secure the minimum needs for your family. We all have a certain destiny that we must understand realistically. Tigran the Great had the destiny to conquer and manage the great Armenian empire from the Caspian to the Black sea to Jerusalem. We also have our destiny which is given by our Lord Jesus and His Father. Regardless of the greatness or smallness of that destiny in material terms, we can still leave a lasting legacy by developing our character of self discipline, love, charity, kindness, and compassion. Think of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was mocked, dishonored, crucified. He died on the cross seemingly a poor and destitute prisoner of the great Roman empire. He was labeled by the priests of his own people as a fraud and an object of mockery. Yet, due to his faithfulness to determination to follow the Will of His Father, He resurrected from the dead and rose to heaven to the right side of His Father for eternal glory. He died to wash our sins. He is our Savior by His humility and faithfulness to His Father.”

      “Hampar jahn, this is the real destiny of our people. We must follow the example of Jesus. We must not be afraid of living a humble life with just our minimum needs. God Almighty is the friend of the poor and the savior of the meek. Whatever we have over and above our minimum needs we should use in the service of the Lord. You are a father and your son lives with you fed everyday by your good wife and cared for and loved. Hampar Jahn, we have too many young children you don’t have a father or mother or whose parents are too poor to provide for them. Our village church needs to build a small orphanage for these poor children so that we can educate them, care for them and love them.”

      Hampar and Vehanoush donated their savings to the church. A small but needed orphanage building was constructed and their names were posted on the building as recognition for their donation. By giving the donation, they no longer felt any fear or anxiety. They received respect and friendly esteem for their kindness. Hampar and Vehanoush also continued to make small but regular donations whenever they could for the maintenance of the orphanage. Sometimes one or two orphans would visit them and sometimes stay overnight in their small cottage. Haiyr Gomidas had taught them to say certain prayers before sleeping at night. They prayed to Lord Jesus,

      “Dear Lord, thank you for your kindness and protection. We are orphans living in your house and feel safe and happy. May we always remain your humble servants. Also Lord, please protect and comfort Hampar haiyrik and Vehanoush Maiyrik and Krikor aghparig. Bless them in their goodness and humility.”

      Hampar and Vehanoush had tears in their eyes hearing these innocent and sincere prayers. They thanked Lord Jesus that Haiyr Gomidas helped them to understand their real destiny. They understood how undue attachment to material things brings anxiety, fear and grief. They thanked the Lord that they were able to have the faith to do the Lord’s work without hesitation or resentment. They felt fulfilled and safe in their humble life of prayer, hard work and faithfulness to God and each other.


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    • One is good, two is enough and three is a headache

      Meg lav eh, yerghoukuh pav eh, yerekuh tzav

    • Let us sacrifice for our own benefit, let others also sacrifice for our benefit

      Mehnk mezi ghourban (madagh), anonk al mezi ghourban

      This can be expressed as “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”

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