• Armenian definition of soul – the center of the senses and longings, desires and wishes, the individual or person

    hokee – eghtzehrou yehv uhzkahtzoumnehrou gehtrohnuh, ahntzuh

    How do we know that the soul exists in our physical body and outside of it after death of the body? What proof is there?

    This is a serious question that needs an exact response for one to even consider accepting spiritual life seriously. Finding the answer to this question can determine whether a person will accept spending time and energy researching spiritual truth and values and living by them. Without such an answer one may ignore spiritual reality and completely busy oneself with material accumulation and sense enjoyment.

    I looked up the definition of soul in my little Armenian dictionary and I found the following succinct meaning: the center of the senses and longings, desires and wishes, the individual or person(ahntz). We can compare this Armenian statement to an English dictionary statement.
    1.the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body, and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
    2.the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come: arguing the immortality of the soul.
    3.the disembodied spirit of a deceased person

    The English dictionary definition clearly makes the distinction between the soul and the physical body. The short Armenian definition does not clearly differentiate between the soul and the material body. I am sure if I had a bigger Armenian dictionary, it would make the same differentiation. The correct understanding of the soul is the first big step toward cultivating spiritual life.

    There are different theories about the soul. In western philosophy, the materialistic theory of the soul may be attributed to Aristotle. He differed from Plato who claimed the soul can exist apart from the body. Aristotle argued, the soul is inseparable from the body, and comprises whichever capacities are required for a body to live, perceive, reason, and act. Later, the English philosopher Hobbes theorized that human reasoning along with imagining, sensing, and deliberating about action proceed according to mechanistic principles like a machine. He wrote, “why may we not say that all automata (engines that move themselves by springs and wheels…) have an artificial life? For what is the heart but a spring; and the nerves but so many strings, and the joints but so many wheels…” (Leviathan, Ch. 5)

    In the 20th century, A.M. Turing proposed the question, “Is it theoretically possible for a finite state digital computer, provided with a large but finite table of instructions, or program, to provide responses to questions that would fool an unknowing interrogator into thinking it is a human being?” Turing speculated that the answer was yes. Therefore, he identified thoughts with states of a system defined solely by their roles in producing further internal states and verbal outputs.

    The speculative materialist theories circumvent the existence of a non-material soul as existing independent of the body. They try to give a plausible explanation that thoughts, feelings and desires that eventually lead to actions are all produced by interactions of the physical body and thus can be explained by mechanistic principles. They purport that the soul or the living force in the body represented often by consciousness of the body that manifests the living symptoms is a result of material combinations of atoms or chemicals or electrical impulses, or springs and wheels, etc.

    Returning to the original question, “What proof is there of the existence of the soul separate from the body and after death?

    The soul is experienced as the living force or consciousness which gives the body life. As long as the living force remains in the body, the life symptoms are experienced or seen. At the moment of death, a doctor takes the pulse of the patient and then it stops. He says, “He or she is gone.” Who or what is gone? The entire body, the mechanism of wheels and springs is still lying on the bed. But something has left and the machinery stops working. The non-material soul has left. The presence of the soul is understood by the life symptoms. When the soul leaves the body, there are no more life symptoms in the body.

    Similarly, a machine functions as long as there is electricity or some power supply going into it. As soon as the electricity is cut off, the machine stops working. We know that electricity in the machine is making it run. We also perceive that the electric force is absent when the machine stops functioning. Any thoughtful person can understand the presence of the soul by the consciousness manifest in the body. Total absence of consciousness means the soul has left it.

    I recently spoke to a father who lost his twenty four year old son. He dramatically understood the existence of the soul when he saw the dead body of his son. It was completely lifeless, cold and unresponsive. He remembered his son when he was alive and conscious. He could see the stark difference while looking at the dead body. The difference was the consciousness which is the symptom of the presence of the soul and the cause of the life symptoms in the body was absent.

    There are many things that exist that we do not see with our eyes but we know they exist. For example, one hundred fifty years ago, if I explained to another person that there are invisible electromagnetic waves or radio waves present in the atmosphere, they would think I was crazy. Such waves are not visible. But today, no one who has listened to a radio or watched television or used a cell phone would doubt the existence of such waves even though they cannot be perceived normally. In this modern world of technology, we believe in the existence of many things that we cannot perceive directly with our limited senses. But, we understand their existence by the effects they cause on machines or by their absence when the machines stop functioning. A car without a battery will not run even though it has a full tank of gas.

    If we accept that the material body functions exactly like a machine with wheels and springs, then we must also accept that it needs a source of energy to function and a catalyst to ignite the energy. The energy of the material body is food, but the catalyst that ignites the fuel is the soul. Without the presence of the soul, one may feed the body continually but it will not come alive with energy.

    It is possible to chemically analyze a body right before death and right after death to determine if there is something missing. One can measure the weight, the chemical composition of the blood, the oxygen content, etc. Whatever is missing can be injected into the body by the doctors or chemists. Still, the body will not come back alive. The reason is that the body is more than simply a material machine. If it is only a machine, the missing chemicals or body parts could be replaced and it could come back alive. But this is not possible. There is more to the living body than mere chemicals and organs.

    Although we cannot see the soul, we do perceive its presence by consciousness. Similarly, on a cloudy day we do not see the sun, but the light of the sun comes through the clouds. It indicates that the sun is above the clouds. A little light in the sky early in the morning heralds the rising of the sun and the beginning of the day. Since there is consciousness in all bodies of living entities, we understand the presence of the soul.
    Some form of consciousness is manifest in microscopic living entities to gigantic animals.

    The reason we cannot see the soul is because it is infinitely small. This is stated in the Svetasvatara Upanisad (5.9), “When the upper point of a hair is divided into one hundred parts and again each of such parts is further divided into one hundred parts, each such part is the measurement of the dimension of the spirit soul.” The soul is one ten-thousandth of the tip of a single strand of hair. The individual soul is a spiritual atom much smaller than material atoms. Such atoms are innumerable. Therefore there are an infinite number of living entities or souls.

    The very small spiritual soul is the source of life and energy in the material body. It spreads consciousness throughout the body. We can imagine how powerful the tiny soul is. Because it is much smaller than a material atom, it is impossible to see with our present instruments such as microscopes. But we can perceive its presence by the symptoms caused by its presence. Similarly, if a person swallows cyanide unwittingly, he will know very quickly by the symptoms; he begins to choke and die! He cannot see, smell or taste it, but know he has consumed a poisonous substance. The effects of the unseen substance are undeniable.

    The Vedic scripture, Katha Upanisad (1.2.20), states that there are two kinds of souls, namely the minute particle soul (anu-atma) and the Supersoul (vibhu-atma). It says, “Both the Supersoul and the atomic soul are situated in the same heart of the living being, and only one who has become free from all material desires as well as lamentations can, by the grace of the Supreme, understand the glories of the soul.” The body is made of matter. There are two souls present in the body, the Supreme God who oversees and controls both matter and all minute souls, and the individual small soul who is endowed with limited free will. By misuse of free will, the small soul tries to dominate nature and becomes conditioned by the laws of nature instituted by God, which results in material strife and frustration. The material body is simply a temporary vehicle. The small soul can misuse it by acting independent of God, or with proper education and enlightenment about its intimate relationship with the Supersoul, use it to serve God and become liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

    The Armenian definition of the soul is useful to understand the destiny of every human being. There are two possible destinies. Each depends on the use of the senses and the quality of the longings, desires and wishes of the individual or person(ahntz). Desiring to serve God, the individual employs the senses in the service of God and gradually is liberated from material ignorance and the cycle of birth and death. He attains eternal life in his spiritual body. By rebelling against God and ignoring His instructions, the individual becomes entangled in material life. Due to selfish material desires, he performs all sorts of activities, both sinful and pious, that results in a deluded state of mind, much suffering and continual rebirth and death in the material world. Since the individual soul is eternal, it can continue eternally suffering in the material world or return to the kingdom of God and enjoy eternal life there in his spiritual body without suffering and death.

    To understand that the soul exists after the body dies is a more difficult question to answer. We can only understand the soul’s existence after death on the authority of the Vedic scriptures. Most if not all the knowledge we receive is by accepting someone as an authority and believing what such a person teaches us is the truth. For example, if a tree falls down in Siberia and kills someone, how do I know it actually happened? If there is an evening news report of the tree falling or if I read about it on the internet or a newspaper then I receive knowledge of the event. I must accept the authority of the news media and then I believe that it really happened.

    I will most probably not verify if the tree fell down in Siberia because I will not travel there to examine the fallen tree. The most crucial decision I must make everyday is who do I accept as an authority from whom I receive information about things I cannot independently verify. Once I determine the answer to that question, I begin to learn things. It is important to receive knowledge from an honest authority who knows the truth of life and speaks it honestly. Otherwise, I will be constantly misled.

    What happens to the soul after the body dies cannot be understood by our own endeavors of research or speculation. Such a process of acquiring knowledge is called the ascending process or using techniques of scientific research and speculation. Due to the four defects inherent in every living entity, it is not possible to attain knowledge of soul by the ascending process. These defects are: we make mistakes due to imperfect gearing or seeing, we easily are subject to illusion to believe something is true that is not true, our senses are limited, and we have a cheating propensity.

    It is possible, however, to attain perfect knowledge by the descending process which is by hearing knowledge from a perfect source. For example, Mr. John was the great, great, great, great grandfather of Mr. George. Is it possible for Mr. George to know about his very distant great grandfather, Mr. John by speculating? The answer is no! Mr. George can only learn about his distant relative by hearing oral histories or reading books written by relatives or biographers who actually knew Mr. John. Similarly, God is the Supreme Father, so if anyone wants to know about God, he must try to understand Him through the history of creation. This history has been passed down from antiquity by oral transmission (parampara) of guru to disciple and written history of Sacred Books. The 5000 year old text called the Bhagavad-gita is spoken by God Himself, Lord Krishna. He reveals knowledge of Himself in his dialogue with His devotee Arjuna.

    God cannot be known by our limited senses which are not able to understand the many mysteries of this material world. How then can our limited senses understand the profound mysteries of the transcendental, eternal world? Even though our senses are limited and imperfect, we can still receive perfect knowledge by submissive oral reception like a child. If the mother point to a dish and says to her child, “This is a dish.” The child sees the dish and repeats, “This is a dish.” The first day the child goes to kinder garden, the teacher holds up a dish and asks, “What is this?” The child says, “It is a dish.” Th child correctly answered the question of the teacher by simply repeating what her mother taught her. Simply by instruction by an honest authority like the mother, the child received perfect knowledge.

    Lord Krishna explains the nature of the non-material or spiritual soul by affirmative statements and negative statements. The affirmative statements must be accepted such as the following:

    “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.

    As a person puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” (Bhagavad-gita 2. 20,22)

    The negative statements or statements of what the soul is not follow:

    “The soul can never be cut to pieces by any weapon, nor burned by fire, nor moistened by water, nor withered by the wind.

    This individual soul is unbreakable and insoluble, and can be neither burned nor dried. He is everlasting, present everywhere, unchangeable, immovable and eternally the same.

    It is said that the soul is invisible, inconceivable and immutable. Knowing this, you should not grieve for the body. (Bhagavad-gita 2. 23,24,25)

    Both the affirmative and the negative statements about the soul give us specific information. The soul is not created. It is an eternal part and parcel of God, therefore it cannot be created by a combination of material elements contrary to the belief of Aristotle, Hobbes or Turing and other philosophers or scientists. This statement is implied in the first verse quoted above. It is stated with more emphasis later in the Bhagavad-gita, “The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.”
    (Bg 15.7)

    The soul being the eternal part and parcel of God was never created and never dies. Birth and death in a temporary and continually changing material body is due to the misuse of limited free will of the soul. By choosing not to serve God, one is placed in a temporary material body to pursue desires that are separate from serving God. The living entity is meant to serve God. When he chooses to serve his own selfish desires, he is placed under the influence of the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance) and begins the struggle for existence. In the material conditioning the soul forgets his relationship with God and thinks he is a product of material nature. Whatever he seeks to accomplish in the material world is a struggle because he is in a hostile atmosphere like a fish out of water.

    The soul conditioned by matter is bound up by the false ego. The materially affected mind drives the soul in material existence. When the mind is in the mode of goodness, his activities are good; when the mind is in the mode of passion, his activities are troublesome; and when the mind is in the mode of ignorance, he travels in the lower species of life. In material life the soul is covered by the material body, mind and senses. When he is liberated, this material covering is discarded and the eternal spiritual body manifests itself as the pure embodiment of the soul with spiritual senses capable of seeing and acting in the spiritual reality.

    One hundred fifty years ago there was no radio, television, computers, etc. We could not transmit voice, or pictures or information as we do today because we did not have the technology. Today, in spite of so much technological advancement, we are still confined to very limited perception of reality due to the covering of the senses and material body of the pure soul. Once this temporary covering is removed, the soul can perceive again the spiritual reality that is present before us but not accessible at present. We cannot see the spiritual reality with materially contaminated senses. But, when we are purified by continual service and dedication to God, our spiritual senses awaken and we are capable of directly experiencing the presence of God. We come to understand the eternal existence of our individual soul apart from the temporary body and its relationship with God.

    Without help from the Vedic literature, there is very little possibility of understanding the existence of the soul and its eternal relationship with God. Similarly, without the help of history books, it is very difficult to understand what happened before we were born. The testament of honest people who recorded events that they actually experienced is the only way to understand the past. The most reliable testament of our past is the Bhagavad-gita that gives irrefutable information of who we are, who God is, what is time, the material creation and man’s factual duty in life. These five subjects make up the body of spiritual knowledge we need to know to find our real path in life.

  • 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).

  • God gave us our soul, it cannot be taken from us (by anyone)

    astduhvadz hokeen duhvehr eh, (meguh)chee guhrnahr ahrnehl

    This proverb makes the statement that a person, as cleaver or powerful as he may be, cannot take away the soul of a humble, honest, Godly man (or woman).

    Poor people may not have much material means. They have their self respect and personal dignity which, for them, remains inviolable and precious. If anyone tries to undermine this, that person becomes the vilest being in the world.

    In ancient times there was a Roman Emperor named Diocletain who desired to marry the prettiest maiden in the Roman Empire. He found a Roman woman in a Christian convent. When the sisterhood heard of the Emperor’s request they decided to leave Rome. They eventually found refuge in Armenia in the town of Vaghgharsabad which is known today as Etchmiadzin.

    The Roman Emperor sent word to Drtad (King of the Armenians) to find these young maidens and send them back to Rome.
    The Armenian King found her and the other virgin girls. He was overwhelmed by her beauty and decided to take her for himself.
    The girl refused because she was a member of the Christian sisterhood and desired to live a life of piety. King Drtad was already married.
    Drtad summoned the leader of the sisterhood and requested that she persuade the beautiful virgin to accept his proposal of marriage. She returned and told the maiden to refuse the King and remain faithful to her vow “not to trade the joys and pleasures of heaven with the glories of this world.”

    The mother superior was tortured, beaten and imprisoned with two of her sisters for going against the will of the King.
    The beautiful maiden escaped with the rest of the sisters. King Drtad ordered his soldiers to find the maiden. They found her and brutally tortured her until her bones were broken and she died. When the other maidens, who numbered 32, came to pick up her body for burial, the soldiers killed them. King Drtad ordered the three maidens in his jail to be killed as well.

    Very quickly, after the bloodbath, the King was plagued by mental disorder and began to act as if possessed by an animal spirit.
    Due to this severe mental state of the King, St. Gregory, who was previously imprisoned by the King in a dungeon cave (called khor-virab in Armenian) for over 14 years, was released by the King’s order in order to heal him. St. Gregory had been imprisoned for preaching Christianity in Armenia. The Saint healed the King miraculously. The King was overwhelmed and convinced of the power of Jesus Christ. He declared that Christianity become the state religion of his kingdom of Armenia in 301 A.D.

    Because those maidens were sacrificed on Armenian soil they were given Armenian names. The beautiful maiden was named Hripsime
    and the mother superior was named Gayane. One of the first things that St. Gregory did was build a shrine on their graves. In the 7th century, Catholicos Gomidas built a church on the remains of St. Hripsime and Catholicos Ezra built a church on the remains of Gayane. Today, those two monasteries are still standing in Armenia.

    Due to the tremendous sacrifice of these virgin maidens, especially Gayane and Hripsime, Armenia became a Christian country. Their slaughter caused the mental disorder of the King and the subsequent release of St, Gregory who converted the King to Christianity. Men and women of virtue, who steadfastly live by the principles of spiritual life are able to work miracles in the course of their lives. They evolve, by the mercy of God, a power of purity stemming from their chastity and devotion. This power of purity that is the inherent nature of the eternal soul can overcome the most insurmountable obstacles in life.

    The eternal soul, once liberated from the ignorance of false identification and pride, manifests its eternal nature of surrender and goodness in the service of God. No earthly power can infringe on this sacred nature of the servant of God. God has given every living entity an eternal soul and no one can annul it. However, if an individual misuses one’s free will and makes the wrong choices in continually life after life then the eternal soul my suffer indefinitely until he comes to knowledge.




  • He knows where the snake sleeps

    ohtzeen bahrgadz deghuh keedeh

    This implies that the person is very smart and has enhanced powers of perception

  • The snake slitters crooked everywhere, but enters straight into its hole

    Ohtzuh ahmehn degh dzour guh kahleh, eehr pouhnuh shidahk

  • A real snake will not bite a man while he drinks water.

    otzuh otz eh neh mahrtoun chour khuhmahdz ahdehnuh chee khaiytehr

  • The snake can shed it skin but not its (foul) nature

    Otzuh eer shabiguh guh poghkeh, puhnoutyounuh chee poghkheer

    There was a saintly yogi sitting on the bank of the Ganges meditating next to a tree. A scorpion climbed up the tree out on a branch and fell into the river. The saint quickly jumped into the river and rescued the scorpion. As he placed the scorpion on dry land, it bit his hand. The saint tolerated the bite and returned to his seat.

    After some time the scorpion again climbed the tree and fell off the branch. Again the saint rescued him from drowning and as he placed the scorpion on dry land, it bit him. An onlooker approached the saint, “Baba, why do you go on saving the life of that ungrateful creature?”

    “Dear friend, the nature of the scorpion is to bite and the nature of a saint is to be merciful. He cannot change his nature and I cannot change mine.”

    Spiritual goodness can change the hearts of honest and humble people who ask for forgiveness and follow good advice. As concerns envious people who are addicted to sinful activities, it is almost impossible for them to avail themselves of the blessing of saintly people. They close themselves off to the blessing by their stubborn behavior. Genuine saints are always available and ready to shower the goodness of God’s grace on all kinds of people regardless of their fallen nature if only they are willing to accept.

    Snakes are considered especially envious creatures because it is not possible to train them to be domesticated like dogs or cats. In fact, feeding them regularly (like offering milk) only increases their venom. Breaking their fangs, draining venom, and destroying their ability to deliver venom can render them almost harmless. But their nature to bite and harm cannot be changed.



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.


  • 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.



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.”


  • 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



  • 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.



  • 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.



  • 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.



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)