Pull a thread and a thousand patches will fall off.
mehg tehluh kahsehs neh, hahzar naghsehruh guh kahntehs
Their mouth is full but the belly empty
Pehrahneen lehtzoun eh, pohreheen bahrahb
Where is there a tree that is not shaken by the wind?
dzahr leenee? vohr kahmee chee tuhbchee
The human condition is a roller coaster of happiness and distress. One can characterize life as being tossed continually between desiring to own and enjoy things that we want and lamenting for things that we had but have lost. Happiness and distress, desire and lamentation, heat and cold, honor and dishonor, riches and poverty, success and failure, life and death, are dualities that bewilder people. Such dualities keep us conditioned to remaining in the material world and struggling continually to adjust to them.
The material world is a place where we constantly experience dualities.
Modern computer science is based on binary number technology. The overall effect of using products based on binary technology is the same as material nature’s duality syndrome. Our attention is captivated by duality experienced by the images appearing on the computer screen: good and bad in news, emails, movies, images, etc.
Such dualities captivate our attention and distract us from thinking about the real purpose of human life: self-realization and attainment of pure love for God and sharing that affectionately with everyone in our life.
Love of the Supreme God takes us out of the binary world of duality and permits us to enter the “monary” world of love of God and everyone and everything related to God. Everything in creation is related to God but our preoccupation with material dualities distracts out attention to this most essential fact of life. What is interesting is that in the English language there is no antonym for binary. Therefore, I have invented the word “monary,” which means single or one. The binary (two) concept of life puts us into the trap of dualities. Therefore, we cannot see clearly that such dualities exist because we have forgotten our original relationship with the One Supreme God.
For example, when we buy a new computer often we
see a little sticker that says Intel inside. This indicates that the processors that make the computer work are manufactured by the Intel corporation. Intel says the following on its web page, “The Intel Inside Logos that appear in advertising or on computer systems serve as a reminder to computer buyers that the systems they are purchasing contain a genuine Intel® processor and offers quality, reliability, and compatibility from the world’s largest chip maker. System labeling is the foundation of the Program that ensures the consumer can identify the Intel ingredient.” Similarly, the process of self-realization will lead us to understand that God is inside or present in everything in this universe from the single atom to the heart of every living entity. This is the goal of the “monary” vision evolved from self-realization. Such vision of the one Supreme God present everywhere in creation liberates us from the constant back and forth of binary vision of material duality.
The Armenian proverb says, “Where is there a tree that is not shaken by the wind.” Thus all living beings suffer in this world regardless of their situation. This suffering is called the struggle for existence which is trying to avoid the inevitable old age, suffering and death. We will all lose this struggle but we will try our best to avoid it by struggling to overcome the laws of nature. Rather than struggle with the impersonal laws of nature, it is better to approach the Supreme and unique Creator of nature and its laws to ask for mercy and help. The Armenian Church and all other apostolic churches have their sacred chant asking for God’s mercy. In Armenian this is called
Der Voghormia – Please God, have mercy on us.
Kyri Eleison – Greek for God have mercy on us
Der Voghormia, Lord have mercy
Der Voghormia, Lord have mercy
Der Voghormia, Lord have mercy
Der Voghormia, Lord have mercy
ahree, ahstvahdz, hahrtzuhn mehrotz Dear God, You are our only refuge
vohr ahbahvehn ehs neghehlotz. You protect those who are in trouble
hahss!, ohknoutioun dzahraieetz kotz, Please come to the rescue of Your servant
lehr bahhabahn ahzkeess haiotz : Oh supreme protector of the Armenian people
ahmehnahsoourp, yehrohrtoutioun, Holiest of All, the Holy Trinity
douhr ahsskhahehess khaghaghoutioun Please bring peace to the whole world.
der voghormia, der voghormia, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy
heesouss puhrgeech mehz voghormia: Lord Jesus Christ our Savior, have mercy on us
He who causes suffering to the oppressed, will one day see his evil acts redressed
juhnshuvadz mahrtotz dahrabahnk dahss–neh, ohrmuh bahdeejuh kehzee guh hahss-neh
Love brings tears, suffering words
sehruh guh lahtzuhneh (ahrtzounk), tzahvuh guh khosatzuhneh
Suffering is due to sinful acts
These are caused by a lack of facts
Ignorance is the enemy
That shrouds the mind in obscurity
Those who do not know what is what
sinfully fall into a hopeless rut
A child may put his hand in a fire
Unwitting he’s blistered like a roasted fryer
The fire is impartial, makes no exceptions
Innocent or guilty are not considerations
Due to our ignorance we act in foolish ways
But nature unyielding scolds flesh in the blaze
Who is there that knows how the world is working
Who is its controller and how it is functioning?
In darkness we ply the vast ocean of life
Tossed by the waves of ignorance and strife
To gain release from suffering and pangs
Is possible in the human form, not in the body of fangs
For the laws of nature are strict without excuse
they act blindly to put us in an unrelenting noose
We must choose our course of action prudently
Lest nature’s laws bind us to suffering eternally
We must understand what to do and what not to do
To be free of karma’s cauldron of reactive stew
Through knowledge we can gain release from suffering
By three stages of spiritual understanding
First, to know our body is not our true identity
Second, we are a pure spiritual soul apart from the body
Third, our soul is the eternal servant of God for eternity
Forgetful of our relationship with the Supreme Lord
We selfishly work to enjoy a sensual reward
The Lord has given us scriptures for knowledge
To free us from the throes of karma’s binding sludge
Love is explained (theoretically), and suffering is described (from experience).
sehruh guh pahtzahduhrvee, dahrduh guh bahdmuhvee
What good is the vastness of the world and its might/When my shoes are too small and uncomfortably tight
eench uhnehm ahskharkeen laiynoutiounuh yehp gohsheegus negh eh
What will I do with the vast world when my shoes are so tight.
“What good is the vastness of the world and its might
When my shoes are too small and uncomfortably tight”
Suffering was inflicted on rocks, but they could not stand it, so it was inflicted on man
kareruh chee gurtzan darahbankuh gurhel. mahrtotz vurrah eenghav
Where have I come from. Why am I suffering.These questions linger in the mind and we try at times to answer them. Often we just say, “who cares anyway. Just live as happily as you can, don’t do harm if you can, and hopefully there will not be too much suffering.”
This is called the hedonistic conclusion of life. It is ultimate self-indulgence. There is a strong logic to it. If one does this then hopefully he may remain pacified and not engage in killing, maiming, raping and other sorts of beast-like behavior because the beast will be satisfied by so much sense gratification that he remains pacified.
Alas, it is not true. Almost all wars are fought for sense gratification. Israel wants sense gratification for the Jews. Nazis wanted sense gratification for the Germans, the pure race. America wants sense gratification for the Americans. The Afghans want sense gratification for themselves and so on. War is fought for maintaining or increasing the range of sense gratification, that is, more eating, drinking, dancing, laughing, sex, etc.
If some intruder comes into your home and starts to choke your wife, you would defend her and fight off the intruder. You would not say, “Well he also needs to enjoy his senses so let him use and abuse my wife. Never mind he is forcing her against her will and causing her extreme distress. Never mind he has broken down the door. In fact, I’ll set the table with snacks in case he gets tired and hungry raping and killing my wife.”
The sad truth is that we do everything in this world for our own sense gratification. And sometimes we are willing to kill and maim to defend it or increase it. After all the killing we just say, “I am justified in defending my sense gratification and now I’ll continue my eating, drinking and making merry. There is no more meaning to life than this.”
Generally, we don’t want to harm anyone, but if someone tries to harm us, then causing harm to that person may be justified. Wars are fought to preserve our way of life. We don’t want to replace the American way by the Nazi way or the Muslim. In truth, it is the same thing clothed differently. Whether I enjoy as a Turk or an Armenian, what is the difference. It comes down to the same thing. The priest says do it like this and the imam says do it like that. The rabbi says no, do it like this and the communist says no, like that. But they are all talking about the same thing, sense gratification. Some say you can also drink and others say no sir, our religion does not allow that.
What is religion? It is a way to control sense gratification under religious codes in order to redirect our attention to pleasing the senses of God as the first enjoyer. God gives His mercy to His devoted servant. Such Mercy completely pleases our senses without ever causing harm to others. For example, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden never ate meat. They only ate the fruits of trees. They didn’t kill the tree and actually they did not really kill the fruit. They ate the pulp of the fruit and spit out the seed that grew another tree with many more fruits. This is nonviolent living: the paradise of pacifism. This was the arrangement of God.
This is the key to the solution. But many people won’t accept paradise. There is a correlation between meat eating (killing animals), abortion, atheism, materialistic hedonism, gambling, dishonest philosophical speculation, hunting and other types of cruelty to animals, nature, humans and war. Yes, WAR is the result of such unnatural behavior.
By breaking the laws of God and sinning in total ignorance of the consequences one becomes more and more implicated by the laws of karma. The laws of karma are established by God to help us understand that there are consequences for our actions. There are serious consequences that we are see every day. We are all worried about the number of dead American soldiers in Iraq. But, stop to think one minute. Every year in the USA there are more than 20,000 murders. That number dwarfs the number of dead US soldiers in Iraq after years of combat. There are twenty times more killing per year of Americans in the USA than Iraq. Why can’t we do something about this slaughter going on in our own country?
Ignoring God and His instructions on how to live peacefully, people are killing each other every day and everywhere because they disregard the word of God and there is no end in sight as long as atheism is rampant. Those people who kill in the name of religion are also atheists.
The real believers are trained to kill, but not people. They are trained to kill people’s illicit desires to selfishly enjoy the senses. Real believers are lethal killers but not of the flesh. Rather they kill false desires and attachments.
There is an Armenian oud player and singer named Roupen Altiparmakian. He has written and sung an interesting song:
Saasoun Moush mereen eh
Van Erzeroum mereen eh
He sings, “Sassoun and Moush ( two towns in Eastern Turkey) are ours (meaning they belong to the Armenians)
Van and Erzeroum are ours.”
His song exhorts Armenians to awaken their nationalism and go fight the Turks to get back their lands.
This is the problem, the false claim of proprietorship. The concept of proprietorship is the foundation of every type of society. In capitalism, the laws of society are made to protect individual proprietorship; in socialism, the laws protect the proprietorship of the state, in communism, the laws protect the proprietorship of the community, in monarchy, the king and nobles, in fascism, the dictator and the military industrial complex, in anarchy, no one. In every society there is a foundational concept of proprietorship. All the above mentioned concepts of proprietorship are dead wrong. Because they are wrong, no one is really happy. The truthful answer to the question of who is the real proprietor is GOD. God created and He is the proprietor. Until people understand this there will never be any peace.
The Zionists made a plan 150 years ago to repopulate Palestine and eventually declare it their modern state. Thus, all over the world there are disputes about territory that erupt and become wars. The truth is that everything belongs to God and we should only use things in His service and share all the excess equally for the benefit of all living entities.
Understanding the correct concept of proprietorship is the first step to solve the problem of human to human violence. The second important step is to understand our true position. We are constitutionally the eternal servant of God. If we analyze the human condition, we see that everyone is a servant of someone or something. No person lives without serving. When we serve materialistic people or causes, our service can only sustain us for a short while. If I work one week, I only get one week’s salary. That salary will sustain me for a short period, then I am left with nothing so I need to serve more. I can never stop serving. However, if I serve God, then that service can sustain me eternally. This is the difference. Through service to God I become situated in my eternal constitutional position as the eternal servant of God and my service which is inseparable from me, will sustain me forever, This is called “sanatan dharma” or the quality that is inseparable from the living entity that sustains him forever. That quality is service and when the service is directed to God it will sustain us forever. Everything has an inseparable, distinguishing quality like saltiness to salt, sweetness to sugar and heat to fire. So the human being has service. Directing that service to God is the perfection of the human being.
We suffer due to the wrongful use of free will. We direct our attention away from God and are attracted by the illusory material energy. We identify with the illusory material energy. I am Jew, I am American, I am African-American, I am Turk, I am a Latino, etc. All these false identities are temporary material identifications that make us subject to material miseries.
There was once a frog and a fish that became friends. The fish said to the frog, I appreciate you so much that I want to be connected to you, bonded to you. Let’s have someone tie a rope so that we are tied together and always spend time together. The frog said, I would love that. They were tied together and spent their days always together. One day, a predator bird came looking for food. The bird saw the fish near the bank of the river in shallow water. It was an easy prey. Normally the fish would stay clear of the shallow water, but because of its friendship with the frog it exposed itself. The frog seeing the bird of prey tried to jump into the reeds on the bank of the river where he would be safe. But, the fish pulled the frog into the water where the fish sought deeper water. Because they pulled in different directions out of fear to escape death they both remained in the shallow water and the bird easily picked up the fish and with it the frog which was connected by the rope. Thus, they both perished where if they were not tied together they might have both escaped.
The false attachment exposed both the frog and the fish to a predator. The natural predator of the fish also got the frog. When we falsely identify with something material we immediately expose ourselves to the reactions of material miseries that we normally would not suffer if we maintain our position as servant of God.
The action of material illusion on us is witnessed by our becoming engaged in the service of material goals. We thus become the servant of our own lust, anger, greed envy, mental speculation all in the name of family, country, politics, race, religion. Religion which has a goal of preserving or identifying with a nationalist agenda like a National Church or Black Muslims or Jewish Zionism, etc. is also an illusion like water in the desert because our service will be directed to serving a material goal, like preserving the race or ethnic group. That religion that teaches pure love of God that has no material motive and is uninterrupted in service to God is true religion. Anything less is cheating.
Dumbfounded by illusion we are perplexed by hunger, thirst, severe cold, indigestion and acid reflux, colds and coughs, blistering heat in summer, rains and many other disturbing elements and overwhelmed by strong sex urges and unending anger. These are some of the miseries and perplexities we experience when overcome with the idea that my essential identity is my circumstantial body. By this false identification we are harassed by the miseries caused by our body, by other bodies, and natural calamities. These three-fold miseries are felt in the body and mind. Sometimes self-interested persons who don’t understand anything about the real cause of misery pose themselves as leaders of society and further engender untold misery.
The miseries of life do not pertain to our souls. They are artificially being suffered only because we falsely think that we are this body and we use the body for sense enjoyment instead of self-realization. Thus we are trapped by the entanglement of sense enjoyment that brings on unlimited miseries.
This whole mess is caused by our maintaining that we are independent of any superior being. The truth is we are always dependent on the will of the Supreme Lord in both our conditioned and liberated states. It is by the influence of the external energy that we are blinded to the truth. We think we are independent of God.
Our natural position is to serve the desire of the supreme will of God. As long as we refuse to, we drag on our miserable existence in the shackles of material bondage which is sex life. We are like a man being punished on the dunking stool. In colonial America, people would be punished by being placed on a dunking stool that would lower their body into a river or lake and hold them underwater until they were gasping for air and then raise them to catch their breath and again lower them. It was excruciating punishment. This is happening to us every day.
It is only when we give up all our plans born of mental concoctions for sense enjoyment that we are taken off the dunking stool of life. There is a law of nature which is insurmountable. The more we want to selfishly enjoy our senses the more must suffer. This is happening all the time, yet we refuse to believe it.
In spiritual life there is spiritual sense enjoyment. For example, one may offer delectable vegetarian food to God. After the offering the food is distributed freely to everyone. Eating such holy food is sense enjoyment but it is on the basis of service to God. It is different than eating roasted animals who were killed against their will and which are not suitable to be offered to God. A meat offering and a devotees’ vegetarian offerings to God are very different. One is made in lust and the other in love. One is made for material profit and the other for love of God.
We engage our senses and mind in extensive material work, suffering insomnia at night because our troubled intelligence breaks up our sleep with various mental speculations for more sense enjoyment. We are always frustrated in our various plans by supernatural power. As long as we remain adverse to the supremacy of God, we rotate in an unending cycle of material miseries and confusing duality.
Don’t judge any man by his superficial appearance, every person has personal problems (in their life)
ardakinov mee tadherr voyyeveh mart
ahmen mart ounee eeryen hahdouk dahrd
Where you hurt, there is your heart (or soul)
Ouhr tzaveeneh, hon hokeet eh
There is another Armenian proverb that says, “Lezoun tzavadz akrahyeen gertah” the tongue goes to the tooth that hurts. Pain, whether physical or mental, seizes our attention especially when the pain is caused by some great loss like a loved one or great material loss.
The secret to success and how to live without stress
He who lives without meanness and envy
Is friend to every living entity
Free of erred concepts and inflated pride
Nor thinks himself the proprietor worldwide
Is equal both in happiness and distress
Tolerant, satisfied, self controlled, less stress
Engaged always in service to the Lord
With fixed mind, not awaiting a reward
Whose intelligence adheres the Lord’s advice
Without doubt or fear or any sinful vice
Such a servant is very dear to the Lord
For such humble soul, God’s love the reward
The art of developing interpersonal skills by which one can nurture on a long term basis loving and sincere relationships is explained succinctly in the above verses.
The most important adjustment one must make is to be free of false concepts about one’s identity and place in the universe. One can summarize life as a search for self identity. “Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I now? Where should I be going? What is the purpose of my life?” These questions are fundamental for understanding oneself and learning how to relate to others in life.
Learning about oneself is a relational process. It is difficult to learn about oneself in a complete vacuum. When one is in relation to others, it is much easier to understand gradually who I am. Ultimately, we come to the complete understanding of who I am when we enter into a relationship with God. God is the complete whole and we are a part and parcel of God. This means that God is the Supreme Person eternally and we emanate from God. We have many similar qualities as God but we can never be equal to or greater because we are the part. The phrase part and parcel means we are individuals eternally like God, but we are unalterably small or limited in our person whereas God’s Person is infinitely great. We are one and different than God. We are one qualitatively one and quantitatively different. The drop of ocean water is qualitatively one with the ocean but quantitatively different.
It is possible to understand God by deeply understanding oneself because we are part and parcel of God qualitatively one, but quantitatively different. The only thing that can hinder us from understanding properly is the false ego or the accumulation of false ideas that we believe to be true. The following is a simple but precise process by which we can understand what is the false ego and how it hinders our development as a person capable of loving God and all others as part of God’s family.
There is the false ego and there is the real ego. Ego means I or I am or the identification of the eternal self. As stated above, we can only identify oneself in relation to something or someone else. The false ego (or I) identifies oneself with the material nature or matter. An example of false ego is, “I am the material body.” Everyone of us resides in a material body. If I identify myself with the material body that I dwell in, then I make a fundamental mistake. I consider the body made of matter which is constituted of the basic elements earth, water, fire, air, ether or space, mind, intelligence, and ego (or self identification). The first five elements make up what is called the gross material body and the last three make up the subtle material body. Such self identification with the material body is a fundamental mistake similar to mistaking the driver of a car with the car or mistaking the person with his clothes.
Mistaking the clothes with the person or the car with the driver is a fundamental mistake of perception. If I am convinced that these mistakes of perception are true, then I am subject to illusion. An illusion is mistaking one thing to be another thing. Acting
as if the illusion is true is being in a deluded state of mind. The false ego is the deluded state of mind where I am convinced that something which is not true is true. If I organize my thoughts and actions with this false conviction, I will remain baffled about the purpose of life.
The false ego is precisely the desire one may have to dominate part or all of the material world. With the purported domination one desires to enjoy. One falsely identifies with the temporary body, mind and senses. The body is the vehicle by which one can enjoy the material world through the material senses. The mind is the center of activity of all the senses. When one hears of sense objects the mind becomes a fertile place of ideas of sense gratification. Thus, the mind and senses become repositories of lust or the obsessive desire to dominate and enjoy.
Envy is a powerful and destructive feeling. If one harbors envy it is destructive for oneself and also be for the person to whom it is directed. To envy is to feel discontent and jealously long to have another’s advantages, success, possessions, etc. It is a much stronger emotion than jealousy, which denotes a feeling of resentment that another has gained something that one feels they more rightfully deserve.
When one is jealous of someone else, the feeling will subside if the jealous person attains the same advantage that the other person has. In the case of envy, even if the envious person obtains the same advantage as the other person, he is not satisfied until the other person loses what they have and are left destitute.
The origin of everything begins with God. In the Bhagavad gita 16.18, Lord Krishna explains the origin of envy:
“Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the demons become envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in their own bodies and in the bodies of others, and blaspheme against the real religion.”
A person who becomes proud of accumulated wealth, power and the prestige may become envious of the Supreme God. God declares that He is the Supreme and that nothing is above Him or equal to Him. In the Bhagavad gita 15.18, Lord Krishna says:
“Because I am transcendental, beyond both the fallible and the infallible, and because I am the greatest, I am celebrated both in the world and in the Vedas as that Supreme Person.”
The material world is a place where people try to control and enjoy the material energy. A materialistic person becomes happy when successful in satisfying the senses and enjoying bodily pleasures. But when he sees others’ more successful in sense gratification and he isn’t, he is sorry and envious.
Such persons are always against God’s supremacy. God is the Supreme controller and enjoyer. He is also the supreme object of envy for a certain class of people.. The envious are against the existence of God and the holy scriptures. This is caused by the prestige and accumulated wealth and power of such persons. They often doubt that there is existence after death. Thus, they do not use this life as a preparation for the next. Lacking such conviction, they actually become envious of their own self. This self envy manifests as the determined effort to deny the existence of God, debunk scriptural authority and systematically . Thinking himself independent and powerful in all actions, he deliberately disregards the proprietorship of God over all that be and acts against the instructions for good behavior given by God. Another symptom of self envy is the refusal by such persons to take good advice based on scriptural authority (or often any authority). Such persons think that they are above all others in strength, power or wealth. Thus, they think they can act in any way and no one can dare stop them. When such persons encounter a potential enemy who can counter their sensual activities, they make plans to destroy that person in one way or another.
A person who is not God conscious acts according to the concept of the material body and senses.
Courage and skill are the keynotes of success
Courage and skill are the keynotes of success.
Too much grief destroys everything.
Perseverance is the root of success.
auspicious signs – left eye quivers, left arm throbs, left thigh throbs
He lays golden eggs
vohsgee havgeet gahdzeh
When a person is very successful and earns a good income, this phrase is used to describe his good fortune.
Live frugally during your prosperous days so that you live prosperously during your frugal days. (Literally, during your days of fullness (prosperity) walk a narrow path (live frugally), so that during the narrow days (of want) you can walk a wide path (or live prosperously).
Kou layn orerut negh kaleh vor negh orerut layn kalis
I have followed this advice in my life and it has worked marvelously. During a period of my life I was able to make a lot of money, but I lived very simply without spending extravagantly. I have been able to live over fifteen years after my retirement at 42 years old very comfortably because I saved most of the money I earned during my prosperous years. In contrast, I have a friend who was investing in the stock market. At the end of 1999, his portfolio was worth about $ 800,000. At that time I suggested to him to sell his stocks and put his money in safer money market accounts so that he could retire. He was 47 years old. He opened his eyes wide and gave me a stern look saying, â€œItâ€™s not enough. I need two million dollars to retire.â€ He was indignant that I suggested selling when he was on the verge of doubling his money and making a fat nest egg. He was very confident about his investments. He called the CFO of the principle company he was invested in and got regular updates about the progress of the company. His 401K retirement fund had over $ 100,000. He had a very good salary and his life style was very good. The stock market crashed in March 2001. Since he was always buying on margin ( only putting up a fraction of the amount of the purchase price of stocks), when the market crashed his stock brokerage gave him an emergency call and asked that he immediately transfer $ 80,000 to pay off his margin call. This was 3 PM on a Friday afternoon. He said that he could transfer the money until Monday morning. The stock broker insisted that if he didnâ€™t transfer the money immediately, he would sell off all the stocks at the present price to cover his losses. The value of his portfolio of stocks (made up mainly of the one stock) had dramatically lost value in a short period of time. If the broker sold all the stocks, he would have nothing left and perhaps a loss. He begged the broker on the phone, but to no avail. The brokerâ€™s supervisor did not comfort my friend either. He would not commit to holding the stocks until Monday morning. In a panic, my friend liquidated his 401K early Monday morning and rushed over to the brokerâ€™s office. By the time he arrived the broker had sold all his stocks to cover his margin. There was still a loss and my friend used about $ 80,000 of his 401K to cover the loss. He was devastated. In a short period his entire retirement was wiped out. To add insult to injury, he now was facing a $ 60,000 income tax liability because he cashed in his 401K retirement account. Two years later he was obliged to sell his home to payoff the IRS and before that he declared bankruptcy to avoid paying any more money to the brokerage firm that claimed he still owed them money. My friend was blinded by his greed and continued to make very risky stock investments without ever imaging that there could be a stock market bust. If he had listened to me, he would have protected his investments and would be living in retirement today. Better to live frugally and conservatively during prosperous days so that one live prosperously during frugal days.
Without good feet, you cannot have a good head which implies without a good foundation, you cannot build a good building
Vodkheh cheghadz klough chelhleer
Without good feet, you cannot have a good head which implies without a good foundation, you cannot build a good building.
Jesus tells the parable of the wise and foolish builders.
Anyone who hears and puts the teaching of Jesus into practice is compared to a wise man who built his house on a foundation of rock and set down deep pilings into the rock. When a flood came with torrents of rain, his house was not washed away or shaken.
But the man who hears Jesus teaching and does not put them into practice is like the man who built his house on sand without a foundation. When the rains came and the wind blew beating against the house, it collapsed with a great crash and was completely destroyed.
In any successful endeavor, there needs to be men, capital, land, and organization. More important than these necessary material components of success, is receiving the wisdom of God and having the will to implement it. Without the foundation of God’s teaching, we will build beautiful buildings (family, wealth, education, nation, etc.) on a weak foundation and bring about ruin.
He doesn’t know the front or back of his own hand
tzehrkeen yehdehvuh ou ahrchevuh chee keedehr
The above indicates a person who is lacking knowledge. It is a way of saying such a person is stupid.
Let him ride on an ass (or horse) and he’ll use it to go to the toilet
Ehssuh teer paghneek gertah
When a person uses their acquired wealth or education for a useless purpose this proverb is used to point out their stupidity. You don’t need to ride on a horse to go to the toilet. Only a fool would ride a horse to the toilet.
I stubborn, you stubborn, we’re both fools
Yehs hahmahr, touhn hahmahr, yehrgoukess heemahr
A tree trunk extended across a small stream. It served as a bridge.
Ahrveen vuhrah, vohrbes gahmourch, tzkvahdz ehr kehrahn
Once, two stubborn goats came from opposite directions met headlong in the middle of the bridge.
Ahnkam muh aiyt kehrahneen vuhrah yehrgou hahmahr aidzeeknehr eerahrou hahnteebehtzahn
“You turn around and go back so I can cross,” said the black goat.
-Touhn yehd kuhnnah vohr yehs ahntzneem,- uhsahv sehv aidzeeguh
“Why don’t you turn around and let me cross unhindered,” answered the white goat.
-Eenchou touhn yehd chess kahsveer yehv eentzee gahratchahrghes,- badahskhanetz
“I told you to back off. I came first on this bridge,” said the black goat.
-Kehzee guhsehm vohr yehd kahsveehss. Ahratch yehs yehlah gahmourcheen vuhrah.-
uhsahv sehv aidzeeguh
“Do you have any idea who you are talking to?” said the white goat.
-Eessk touhn keedehss teh vohrou hed guh khosees- uhsahv gehrmag aidzeeguh
The goats butted their heads against each other, back and forth, until they both slipped and fell into the stream.
Aidzeeknehruh jahgad jagdee zahrgeen, eehrahrou kuhlough bahdretzeen yehv yehrgoukuhn ahl choureen eengahn
He bit into a rock and stood still
kahr khadzahv gehtzahv
This is a very descriptive way to indicate that a person is very stubborn and obstinate.
If someone bites on a stone they are suddenly stunned and seem frozen for a short second. A stubborn person is similarly immovable in their determination to not budge from their position or point.
He became stubborn and refused to go
Eenad eratz chee kenatz
Becoming “Eenad” means becoming “stubborn as a mule” that refuses to budge. “Eenad” implies that such stubbornness is self destructive because one is stubborn beyond reason and may even undermine his own well being. There is an Armenian story about the “Mysterious Mule” (khorhuhrtahvor chohreen)
Once there was and was not an Armenian shopkeeper that lived in the village of Chounkoush. His name was Mardiros ahghpar (Mardiros brother). Referring to someone as ahghpar (brother) was recognition that they were very respectable. He owned a large storefront in the town business section and was known to be a good Armenian Christian.
Every morning when he arose from his bed he would say, Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned. The word nahlet is Turkish and it means damned. The Armenian word for damned is ahnehdzk. He would make the sign of the cross, wash himself, and then go to church and bow on his knees and pray to God. After his prayers, he would go and open his shop. Before opening his shop door he would again say, Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen, then open his locked door with his key, raise the shutters, again make the sign of the cross and as he entered the shop he would say, Medzeh zououtioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen. He was now ready to do business for the day.
At morning, afternoon, and evening mealtimes Mardiros aghpehr would say the Haiyr Mehr (the Lord’s Prayer) then repeat Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned. After which, he would eat his food. As soon as he finished, he would say Pahrk astdoutzoh (Praise God) and again repeat Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned.
The devil that lived in Mardiros aghpehr’s neighborhood became very irritated by his constant repetition of the curse. There was an annual meeting of all the devil’s assistants in Chounkooush. The devil insisted that the agenda topics for the meeting include a discussion of how to punish Mardiros. During the meeting the devil adamantly lobbied that Mardiros be severely punished. The assembled members ardently supported the devil’s plan to punish Mardiros for his continual cursing of the devil.
The day after the meeting ended seemed like any other day in the life of Chounkooush. Mardiros aghpehr woke up, bathed, dressed and went for early morning prayer to church. Then he proceeded to the town center to open his shop. As usual, every chance he had he repeated Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen.
He entered the shop and began to work. His eye caught sight of an unharnessed mule that aimlessly walked from one end of the market to the other. Mardiros kept an eye on the wanderings of the mule all day. He became increasingly suspicious that the mule might have strayed far from its master or perhaps the mule didn’t have a master at all.
Mardiros waited after closing time for all the other shops owners to go home. He closed his shop last. He was sure by this time that the mule was a stray because no one claimed it. When he arrived home, he told his wife – aghcheek, zahrmanali pahn muh eentzee bahdahhehdzav aiysohr, (Wife, an amazing thing happened to me today). He related how the mule wandered around the marketplace all day without anyone claiming it. He added, Yeteh vaghuhn ahl der chullah, douhn beedi pehrehm, eench guhsehs, aghcheek ( If tomorrow no one claims the mule, I will bring it home, what do you say, wife?”)
His wife liked Mardiros’s proposal.
The next day Mardiros brought the mule home after closing his shop. He claimed ownership of the animal. Brother Mardiros acquired a very expensive mouth bit that he placed in the mule’s mouth and a decorative saddle that fit on the mule’s back. Husband and wife began to enjoy the different service the mule rendered for the household or the shop.
After some weeks, the merchant’s mule gained notoriety in Chounkooush. Every morning Mardiros rode the mule to work. The mule would then return home alone to perform chores for his wife. After the chores, the mule would return to the shop alone with Mardiros’s lunch in the afternoon and again return home alone to serve his wife and kids. Mardiros would tell his friends, meenahk chee guhrnahr zuhroutzehl ( the only thing it can’t do is talk).
Every Sunday Mardiros accompanied by his family rode the mule to the Armenian monastery in the hills of Chounkooush and by evening he would return to visit his friends and relatives. He praised the admirable qualities of the mule to everyone he met. He was justifiably proud to own the animal.
By and by, there was not one person left in all of Chounkooush that Mardiros did not inform about the mule’s amazing qualities.
One day, there was a grand wedding party in Chounkooush. After the holy ceremony in the Armenian church, the bride and groom began their procession toward the groom’s house. On the way they stopped in front of a cousin’s house where they had a customary Chounkoushtzee toast called rahkhee guh hahneheen. ( a toast of honor by raising glasses of raki, the famous anise flavored alcoholic beverage of Turkey). The bridal group drank and danced to their heart’s content in the streets.
Brother Mardiros attended the party by riding his mule. He noticed that the mule was showing some signs of being uncomfortable. Mardiros thought, haiyvahnnuh dzahrahv eh (the poor animal is thirsty). He rode the mule toward a public drinking trough. Mardiros dismounted the mule so that it could drink water from the trough. But, to his utter amazement, the mule disappeared into the spigot or tap of the water fountain.
Brother Mardiros could hardly believe what he saw with his own eyes. He kept rubbing his eyes. He was confused. He murmured (under his nose), guhlee mee, chuhleer mee (did it happen or not?). He kept muttering to himself. He looked again into the tap. He saw the cropped ears of the mule moving ever so slightly in the tap. Brother Mardiros fell to the ground, extended and pointed his hands toward the spigot in a beseeching pose and began to repeatedly murmur loudly chou … chou … chou….to beckon the mule to come out of the tap. He was on his knees gesturing and murmuring.
A few of Mardiros’s friends noticed he was late returning from watering his mule. They left the wedding party and walked toward the water fountain. Arriving at the water fountain and trough, they were amazed to see Mardiros’s hands extended toward the tap and incessantly murmuring chou…chou…chou.”They asked, ahsee eench hahl eh, Mardiros, ouur eh chohreen? (What has happened Mardiros, where is your mule? The word hahl is Turkish and it means condition or status. The Armenian word for hahl is veejahg)
“The mule went into the tap,” he answered without any emotion.
The friends looked at each other for a few seconds motioning with their eyes and eyebrows (ahckohv – hohnkohv) that something strange had happened to their friend. They lifted up brother Mardiros. He tried to resist and continued to murmur chou…chou…chou. They reached the wedding party. Everyone noticed brother Mardiros’s pitiable state . Quickly word spread throughout the town that brother Mardiros had gone crazy and was repeating without stop – The mule entered into the tap.
The mayor of Chounkoush decided to do something about poor Mardiros. He had the merchant locked up in a government facility with a continual guard who was mandated to keep Mardiros under supervision until the day he stopped repeating “The mule entered into the tap.”
Everyday the guard asked brother Mardiros about the whereabouts of the mule. As long as he answered “The mule entered into the water tap,” the guard answered ” You stay right where you are.”
Mardiros’ wife brought him fresh cooked food everyday. His friends often visited him. Mardiros continued to insist the the mule entered into the tap. How could he not insist when he saw it with his own eyes and later examined the tap and saw the ears of the mule cropped tightly in the spigot?
Brother Mardiros remained under guard and key for many months. His creditors auctioned off all his merchandise in his store. His wife and small children fell into hard times. His friends were troubled at heart by the misfortunes of brother Mardiros who was a respectable Christian father of a good family. However, Mardiros kept insisting he saw the mule enter the tap. He bore witness to it over and over again.
One day, three of the most intimate friends of Mardiros had a serious meeting to discuss what they could do to end his ordeal. They paid him a visit and asked the guard to stay outside the room. They closed the door of the room to privately discuss with their friend. They had the following very serious discussion among themselves.
Mardiros, do you accept us as your close friends? (mahrdeeros, toun mehzee pahregam guh jahnchnahs?”)
Why of course, is this something you need to ask? (hahrgav, aheet ahl khosk eh?)
If you accept (our friendship), then will you listen to our advice?” (ahyeet bes eh neh, mehr khosgeen bedee muhdeek uhnehs?”)
Of course, why not, you are my most sincere friends, you only want my welfare, is it not? ( hahrgav, eenchou cheh, toouk eem muhdehreem pahrehgamnehrous ehk, lahvoutioun goouzehk, ahyeet behs cheh?)
Oh then, please listen to us now. (ohfuh, heemmah mehzee muhdeek uhreh) You are not crazy, Mardiros, you know it and we know that you are not crazy.. (toun khehnt chehs, Mardiros, toun ahl keedehs, mehnk ahl keedehnk vohr toun khehnt chehs) The only thing that might be called your craziness is your insistence The mule entered the tap. Isn’t it so? (kuhou khehntoutiounut meeahg chohreen dzohrageen metchuh muhdhav uhsehelut eh, aiyeet behs cheh?)
Tell me what to do. I feel obliged to you, said Mardiros. (uhseh eench bedk eh uhnehm. yes tzehzee yehrakhdabard yehm, uhsahv Mardeeros)
Very good then. Listen to us carefully Mardiros. (heehmah aghehk muhdeek uhreh, Mardiros) You saw the mule enter the tap. (toun dehssahr vor chohreen dzohrageen metchuh mudhahv) You looked up the tap and saw the cropped ears of the mule slightly moving.(ahgahchnehruh sahrjehluhn ahl dehssahr) We understand you. (mehnk guh hahsguhnahnk kehzee) We know that what you say is true. (keehdehnk vor uhsahdzut seehdahk eh) But, all of Chounkoush, even all the world, cannot accept such a fact that the mule entered into the tap. (paiytz, pohlor chounkoushuh, polor ahskhahruh chee guhrnahr ouhntounehl vor chohreen dzohrahgeen metchuh muhdhahv) Do you understand Mardiros? (hahsguhsahr Mardiros?)
Yes, but… (aiyoh, paiytz…)
There is no but or mutt! (fahkaht-mahkaht chee gah – Mardiros used the turkish words hah , which mean yes, fahkat (but) for which the Armenian word is paiytz. His friends answered with a rhyming/alliteration couplet fahkat-makhaht chee gaah which could be translated into Armenian as paiytz-maiytz chee gaah or as I tried to translate into English “There is no but or mutt.” )
Mardiros, get a hold of yourself, control your mind. (Mardiros, khelkut kuhloughut johveh) You just told us you will listen to our advice. (mehzee uhseehr vohr mehr khoshgeen muhdeek beedi uhnehs) Enough is enough. (ahl guh pahveh) Your shop is closed. (khahnoutut pahgvahdz eh) Your wife and kids are living in misery and are very vulnerable. (geeneehgut yehv chohjoughnehrut -this is a turkish word that means children and is translated into Armenian by yehrehkhanehrut – pehr ou pehroushan yeghahn – pehr ou pehroushan is a Turkish phrase which means literally troubled and miserable and is translated into Armenian as tuhjvahr veehjak – so the Armenian phrase would be geeneehgut yehv yerehkhahnehrut tuhjvahr veejahgee metch yehn) Tomorrow morning, when the guard comes and asks you about the mule (vahghuh ahrahvohd yehrph bahhahbahnut yehgahv ou hahrtzoutz chohreen mahseen) , you say What mule , what are you talking about! (eehnch chohreen, eench pahn?) If he answers (yeteh uhsatz) Well you have said over and over again that the mule entered into the tap. (hahbah toun uhsehr ehs chohreen dzorageen metchuh muhdhav) You say (guhshehss), What are you saying. Are you crazy. (eench guhsehs, khehnt ehs, eench ehs) Can a mule enter into a water tap? (chohreen dzohrageen metchuh guh muhdnah?) Then, you will walk out of this prison. (yehv gehllahss aiyss deghehn) You will go home (goukahss douhnut) and we will help you get on your feet again (mehnk ahl gohnehnk kezi), open your shop (tahrtzyahl khahnoutut guh pahnahss) and free yourself from this predicament (ou gahzahdvees aiyss hahlet)
Mardiros followed the advice of his dearest friends.
The next day, he was freed from the guarded incarceration. He opened his shop again. After some time, he was able to build up his business and achieve again a stable financial and social well-being.
One night he woke up and quietly got out of bed. He walked out into the deserted streets and made his way to the watering fountain. He bent down to look up the spigot. Sure enough he saw the mule’s cropped ears that seemed to slightly move inside the tap. He controlled his emotions and remained unnerved.
Mardiros said to himself, I know that the mule entered the tap. However, insisting on it will bewilder and mislead me and I’ll end up in the crazy house. Mardiros straightened himself and made the sign of the holy cross and said, “In the name of God the father, the son and the holy spirit, Medzeh zoroutioun kristosee, nahlet sadanayeen – Great is the power of Christ, the Devil be damned. He walked quietly back home.
The victory of the devil was short lived. The final and significant victory was overwhelming due to the power and glory of Lord Jesus.
From that day on in Chounkoush Mardiros’s words became a commonly used saying. “I know the mule went up the spigot. But, if I say that, I’ll end up in the crazy house.” (yehs keedem vor chohreen dzohrageen metchuh mudahv, paiytz yeteh ayeet bes khosehm eenzee khehntahnotz guh mudtzounehn)
Whenever we encounter a truly perplexing event that defies our rational sense and bewilders us, it is prudent to keep silent and remember brother Mardiros’s wise saying.
There is good fortune that brings ruin and bad fortune that leads to good results
Paght gah portzank guh perheh, portzank gah paght guh pereh
There was a village in Punjab, India. One day all the chickens died in the village. The village elders called a meeting and decided that such an exceptional occurrence must have a meaning that they were not able to ascertain. They resolved to seek the advice of a strange saint who lived in a tree on the outskirts of the village. They walked to the saint’s tree and addressed him. “O venerable sadhu, all the chickens in our village suddenly died. What is the meaning of this.” The saint began to laugh hysterically for five minutes. All the elders were uncomfortable with his strange behavior, but they remained respectfully silent until he composed himself and finally spoke. “This is God’s special blessing on you.” After this short statement the sage remained silent. Some of the elders were disappointed by the saint’s answer. While walking back to the village, the skeptics began to criticize the strange behavior of the saint and questioned his sincerity. The senior elders defended the saint and said that his seeming strange behavior was not a subject of criticism. Such a saint should be always respected because he continually demonstrates severe renunciation and has never deviated from his vows of chastity and poverty. The next day, all the dogs in the village died suddenly. The elders returned again to the saint and asked his opinion. He again began to laugh hysterically for ten minutes making all the elders very uncomfortable with his strange behavior. Finally, after composing himself, he stated that this again was the special mercy of God and remained silent. The skeptical elders protested and began to raise their voices in protest, but the others quelled their voices and cautioned them to remain respectful in the presence of the saint. As they returned to the village the skeptics argued that asking the advise of the saint was useless. All he replied was that this is the special mercy of God. What if the entire village was destroyed, would he insist still that it is the special mercy of God. How can they expect a rational reply from the saint? He lives in a tree like an animal and barely eats. How can he know anything about the mercy of God. Other elders again remonstrated that to speak disrespectfully of the saint would bring ruin to the village. Although his behavior seemed irrational, still they should carefully consider his words and try to understand the meaning.
The next day, all the fires in the village went out. This was a serious problem as they would have to go to the next village to acquire hot coals to start the fires again. They would also not be able to cook food that day. Again they approached the saint and asked his advice. He began to laugh hysterically for fifteen minutes and finally calmed himself. Needless to say, all the villagers were uncomfortable and even the most staunch defenders of the saint began to doubt his sincerity. Finally the saint pronounced very solemnly that this was the ultimate mercy of God on the villagers. This time there was only one elder who continued to defend the saint. All the others were convinced that it was a waste of time consulting him as his only answer was that this is the mercy of God. What kind of mercy is that. Continual adversity cannot be mercy they thought.
The one staunch elder, however, kept the others at bay. They did not insult the saint to his face, but they decided by majority vote not to consult him again. They were convinced except for the one elder that these adversities were the result of God’s mercy, but rather chance occurrences that they could not attribute any divinity. The next day a huge army of fierce Muslim invaders approached the village. The Muslims had been pillaging all the Hindu villages, razing them and killing all inhabitants. As the hoard of Muslims neared the village, the general stopped the army’s march and looked and listened carefully. All the inhabitants of the village were hiding and were frightened beyond their wits. The general remarked, “There is something strange about this village. There are no dogs, no chickens and all the fires are out it seems for days. This must be an abandoned village and most probably it is haunted. We will ignore this village and proceed to the next one.”
The villagers realized that the words of the saint were true. Although they thought he was an eccentric fool, it became evident that he was truly in touch with God and was able to foresee the future. There is bad fortune that leads to good results and good results that sometimes lead to bad fortune.
There is another interesting story about a three breasted Princess.
A king had a newly born daughter. On examination, the little girl was born with three breasts.The king called his advisers and asked their opinion. They claimed it was very inauspicious. They advised the king to abandon the baby in the forest. The king prudently asked his priest for advice too. The priest confirmed that it was a bad omen for the king to have a three breasted daughter. He suggested the king not see her. However, he instructed the king to have the girl raised outside the palace. When she came of age the king could have her married and then send the girl and her husband to a far away place to live.
When the girl grew up to marriageable age, the king sent town criers to announce to the public, “The king is offering his daughter with three breasts in marriage along with ten thousand gold coins. But the groom and his bride will then be banished forever from the kingdom.
After many days a blind man who had a hunchback friend heard the proclamation. He discussed the possibility of accepting the king’s offer. He said to his friend, I am inclined to accept this offer because our life here is miserable. We are struggling to exist with no money. He said
An empty stomach is not a good friend
It has no grace, it leads to a dead end
One who is well fed is kind and witty
Giving, sharp minded, full of energy”.
After his statement, the blind man went to the palace to accept the king’s daughter in marriage. On hearing the offer, the king said, “Whatever he may be, give him my daughter and the gold and let him immediately depart.
The marriage was completed and the blind man, his new wife and the hunchback friend left the kingdom in a fisherman’s boat for a distant land. When they reached a foreign country, they purchased a house and lived comfortably for some time.The princess develop a liking for the hunchback. They began to make love secretly. One day the princess suggested that they would be much happier if her husband was dead. She suggested they poison her husband.
The hunchback reluctantly agreed. He went out in search of poison in the forest. He found a dead snake which he brought back to the princess for making a soup. She made of pot of boiling water with the snake and vegetables and spiced the mixture to taste. The blind man’s wife asked her husband to stir the boiling pot while she attended to the laundry. She added that she was making a very tasty boiled fish and vegetable soup. The blind man stirred the soup ardently.
As he stirred the soup, poisonous vapors wafted into his nostrils and eyes. In some miraculous way the vapors healed his blindness. Gradually he gained his eyesight and looked about the house. He noticed the pot of soup and realized that it was not a fish but a poisonous snake cooking down into a broth. He suspected that there was a plot to kill him by poisoning.
He decided to act as if he was blind so that he could find out who was trying to poison him. In a few minutes the hunchback appeared and went to the princess who was doing chores and began to kiss and fondle her. The blind man saw this and became infuriated. He walked toward the two love birds as if he was blind. As he approached they parted and the wife went back to her chores. He walked up to the hunchback who was unaware that the blind man could see. The husband bent down and then grabbed the feet of the hunchback and began to whirl him around in a fit of anger. The wife approached the two in a hurry to stop her husband, but he dashed the hunchback against her chest.
The unexpected happened. The blow of the hunchback’s hump on the wife’s chest pushed in the third breast which disappeared. At the same time, the hunchback’s hump straightened and also disappeared.
All three were favored by an act of fortune even though it was the result of a sinful act. The quirk of fate became the good fortune of the three. Therefore, the Armenian proverb says, “There is good fortune that brings ruin and bad fortune that leads to good results.”
We should, however, be convinced that foolish and sinful acts lead eventually to misery. Although we may be controlled by fate, still our acts may have an influence on fate. We should never act rashly and we should try our best to avoid sinful acts.
Once there was a man sitting on a branch of a tree and sawing it off at the point it grew out from the trunk. Another man walking by noticed the foolhardy endeavor and remarked, “Sir, if you continue to do what you are doing, you will cut the branch off and fall down. Perhaps, you will injure yourself severely.”The man on the branch rebuked the person who made the well intentioned comment, “Mind you own business, I know what I am doing. I don’t need your advice.”
The stroller realized that the man on the branch was too arrogant or foolish to listen to his advice. He continued on his path convinced that something unfortunate would happen to the foolish man. Sure enough, in a short while, the man on the branch fell off the tree and screamed in agony. His cries for help pained the stroller, who ran back to try and help. The fool broke his arm as a result of his fall. When the stroller approached to help, the fool said,
“You are truly a man of vision. How did you know I would fall and hurt myself?”
The stroller replied,
“I am not a soothsayer or prophet. I simply observed your sawing the branch off and understood you would probably fall down and injure yourself. Foolish or passionate acts often lead to misery. One should never act rashly. Rather, one should listen to the advice of experienced persons before acting.”
We do not have to be a prophet to know what will happen in the future. You can tell by observing the behavior of people. There are three qualities that control the actions of people in this world. They are goodness, passion and ignorance. The actions of people who are endowed with goodness
The wife can make or break the family
• The wife can make or break the family
geenuh douhn guh seeneh, douhn guh kahnteh
There was and there wasn’t a widow.
The widow had an only son, who was only five years old when his father died. The widow raised her child by doing menial housework, washing clothes and cleaning homes.
When the boy became twenty years old, he realized that there was no future for him in his home town. He proposed the following, “Mother, I know how much you have struggled to raise me. Now that I am grown, I do not want to live off your hard work like a lazy man. I think it is necessary to move away from this economically depressed town to a major city where I can find a job and make your life much easier.”
It was difficult for the mother to leave the home and hearth of her ancestral town, However, she considered the future of her son and was willing to help him become prosperous in his own right. She accepted his proposal and quickly they sold off whatever meager belongings they had to cover the cost of their travel. They sadly said goodbye to their family hearth and set off on their journey.
They went far and they went little. They finally reached Istanbul.
It was difficult for the boy to find work in the sprawling metropolis of Istanbul. The widow, however, quickly found work washing clothes and cleaning house by knocking on the doors of wealthy person’s homes. After a few weeks, the two were able to muster up enough money to rent a very small corner room in a cheap hotel.
While searching for a job as an apprentice in a store, the widow’s son heard a royal, street messenger announce, “Our honored King will build a new palace. Please contact the foreman in charge of hiring at the palace if you are a day laborer, journeyman or qualified for construction work.”
The boy happily returned home and related to his mother the announcement he heard on the street. He begged permission from his mother to apply for a job as a laborer as he did not have any other qualification.
The widow hesitatingly agreed to give permission to her insistent son, even though she had misgivings that he should find work as an apprentice rather than a common laborer. She preferred he find work with an artisan or a businessman so he would become trained in skills that would make his future more secure. After several months of hard work the widow and her son were able to save enough to purchase a very humble cottage on the outskirts of Istanbul in a poor neighborhood. They were happy to move away from the cramped room in the cheap hotel. Now they had their own home.
The widow examined every little aspect of her new home. As the months passed she and her son managed to save a little money that she spent on small house improvements.
The King of Istanbul had only one daughter. Once the work on his new palace had progressed, the king and his daughter decided to pay a surprise visit to inspect the quality of the work being done.
During their on-site visit, the king’s daughter espied the widow’s handsome, youthful son. It was love at first sight for her. Without revealing her heartfelt feelings, she addressed her father by pointing out the widow’s son to him.
“Father, don’t you think it is a shame that such a young man should be toiling so hard to carry such heavy rocks with his bare hands and shoulders. Let’s give him a few gold coins so that he can purchase a mule so that he can move those heavy rocks and building materials.”
The King fulfilled the wish of his daughter. He called the widow’s son and gave him three gold coins.
“Take these gold coins and buy a mule so that you can move the heavy stones and materials.”
The widow’s son expressed his gratitude for the generous kindness of the King.
When he returned home that night, he told his mother everything that happened that day. The widow did not like that her son was forced to carry heavy rocks and burdens everyday. But, she also considered that the welfare of their future depended on the maintenance of their small cottage.
“My son, winter is fast approaching. Our cottage’s roof is leaking. Everything we have will be ruined unless we can repair the roof before winter comes. I think it is more prudent to spend the gold coins on a new roof. The welfare of our family depends on this home now. This should be our first priority.”
The son agreed with his mother. The next day he returned to work and continued to carry the heavy loads on his bare back. The widow spent the coins for a new roof. The small cottage had a new look when the roof was finished.
Several weeks later, the King and his daughter returned for another inspection of the work on his new palace. As they walked the construction site, the King noticed the widow’s son was still carrying the heavy loads on his bare shoulders. He called him to for a talk.
“I gave you three gold coins to purchase a mule. Why are you still carrying such heavy loads on your bare shoulders?”
The widow’s son was taken aback seeing the stern look of the King. He glanced at the King’s daughter who was looking at him with a kind look. He explained to the King his mother’s arrangement. He added that thanks to the three gold coins, the roof of their small cottage was saved from collapsing, and now the new roof conferred a respectable and stately look to their house.
The King became angry. He ordered the insubordinate widow’s son to stop working and go away.
The King’s daughter spoke up to her father. “You have made a mistake father. Instead of punishing this youth, you should rather praise his mother for being a woman who turns a house into a real home ( douhn seehnogh geen). She transformed her dilapidated cottage into a stately home the first opportunity she had.”
The King became very upset by his daughter’s unsolicited defense of the widow’s son. He pronounced the following.
“From this moment I swear that you will not be my heir. You must marry this common laborer.” The king’s vow was irreversible. His pronounced will was executed immediately. A priest was summoned. He performed the marriage rite for the widow’s son and the king’s daughter. They were sent away from the palace as soon as the ceremony was finished.
The newly married couple went to the widow’s house. With a good heart, she welcomed her new daughter-in-law and began to lovingly teach her how to work and perform different household chores. She gave her the responsibility for all the household work so that she could increase her own work time in the homes of wealthy clients. With her increased earnings, she set aside some savings so that her son could begin a trading business buying and selling fresh produce.
The king’s daughter observed the widow’s consistent dedication and wisdom for her family. She lived and maintained herself with dignity. She noted her husband’s affection for his mother and his hard work. She felt inspired to sincerely dedicate herself to her mother-in-law’s instructions to perform house duties. She thought of the widow as the matron who was building their home and hearth to last.
The widow’s son used his mother’s savings to purchase goods from large wholesale produce dealers. He sold the goods by walking through neighborhoods and selling at bargain prices. He was able to make a small profit daily. With his earnings added to his mother’s, they were able to make small repairs that gradually made their home very comfortable and stylish.
One day on his way home after business hours, the widow’s son noticed a man on a street corner whose face was serenely happy. The man was hawking, “Wisdom for sale.” He approached the man and gave him his entire day’s profit. In return the serene man gave the widow’s son the following wisdom: “One who follows the path of righteousness never goes wrong in life.” (literally, one who goes the right path never gets lost”)
When the widow’s son reached home, he told his mother what happened to him that day. The widow, who always tried to enhance the dignity of her family congratulated her son rather than scold him. She encouraged him to following words, “Son, since you paid so dearly for that wisdom, you must always keep it in mind and mold your life so that you can be guided by such wisdom regardless of where you might find yourself.”
On another occasion, the widow’s son met a dervish to whom he gave his day’s profit to receive the following advice: “Always remain on the right path of truth. The crooked will surely receive their just punishment.”
When he told his mother about the dervish’s wisdom, she praised him for having the intelligence to seek good advice for living his life. She advised him to always live honorably by remembering his two acquired gems of wisdom so that whenever he may encounter difficult times of temptation, he should follow the path of moral and righteous living as enjoined by the wise words he paid to receive.
On another occasion, the widow’s son spent his entire day’s earnings to purchase a “mysterious chest” that he brought home. When he opened it in front of his mother, they both observed two black cats in the chest. One cat was a male and one female. The widow did not express disappointment about her son’s purchase. Rather, she respectfully kept the “mysterious chest” and looked after its contents (the cats). She told her son: “There is some providential meaning to this mysterious chest that will be very beneficial to you in the future.”
One day, when the widow’s son was doing his sales of produce on a street in one of Istanbul’s distant neighborhoods, he noticed a huge tent in the distance. He approached the tent and inquired about it. He found out that the tent belonged to an itinerant Christian merchant who traveled from city to city selling exotic wares. He learned that the merchant was seeking new employees. The widow’s son was fascinated with the thought of becoming a servant employee of the Christian merchant.
When he returned home, he related to his mother how he was so impressed by the merchant’s offer of possible employment.
He begged his mother to let him seek employment with the merchant.
The widow felt intuitively that her son’s desire was auspicious. She thought her son would have a good future working for the traveling merchant. She gave her permission to seek employment with the merchant. She considered her son’s intention good for his future because she always wanted him to accept an apprenticeship with a businessman or artisan craftsman. Her wish would now be fulfilled.
When the widow’s son approached the merchant for a job, he was accepted to be one of his servants. After some months, the merchant was convinced of the young man’s faithfulness and loyalty. He increased his monthly pay and appointed him his closest personal servant.
The merchant appreciated very much the service rendered by the young man. One day, the widow’s son asked the merchant if his mother could wash his personal laundry. The merchant immediately accepted. After some time, the merchant noticed the exceptional quality of work with which the widow washed, pressed and perfumed his underclothes and other personal clothing. He felt obliged to pay the widow more than the normal wage for her work. He also increased the salary of her son.
The widow continued the improvements on her home with repairs, decorations and room additions. The widow, her son and daughter-in-law lived happily as a family.
After six months, the merchant finished his business sales in Istanbul. He made many purchases of goods in Istanbul to take with him to his next destination for further sales. He prepared his caravan to travel. When all the preparations were ready, he asked his faithful servant to talk privately. He offered to take the widow’s son with him as his trusted servant and journey the four corners of the world until his next return to Istanbul. Such a journey would take about twenty years. The merchant offered the widow’s son the equivalent of ten years wages in advance as an enticement to encourage him to accept. He agreed to pay him the remaining ten year’s wages on their return to Istanbul.
The widow’s son approached his mother and explained the merchant’s proposal. He begged her to give her approval for his departure. The widow perceived a blessing in the merchant’s offer. He also implored his wife to give her permission for his journey. Both women agreed. The ladies were pleased to receive a large sum of money, which they would use for further repairs and embellishment of their house.
Before her son set off on the long journey, the widow brought the mysterious chest to her son and said: “Dear son, you purchased two gems of wisdom as well as this mysterious chest. You paid dearly for all three with your hard earned money. I feel confident that God has some plan for you. These costly acquisitions you made will have some important role to play in your long travels.
After several months of journey, the caravan came to rest on the outskirts of a village. The merchant ordered his servants to pitch the tents. His guards kept watch at the four corners of the tents. The merchant and his loyal servant, the widow’s son, walked toward the village to purchase food for the evening. When the two entered the home of the village leader, they saw his servants holding big sticks. They were searching for mice and rats that they beat to death. The merchant was amazed by the strange scene. He looked at the village chief with a puzzled mien as if to ask “What is this all about?”
The village chief explained that the villagers were continually on guard day and night to kill the rodents that had completely infested their village. The pests attacked their stored food forcing the villagers to empty their basements and transfer their extra food to safer storage facilities. The merchant and his servant reflected that these villagers had never heard of “the cat.”
Hearign about the villager’s plight, the widow’s son quickly ran back to the merchant’s camp to fetch his mysterious chest. He returned to the village leader’s home with the chest. He placed it on the floor in the main room. He opened the chest. The two black cats jumped out. The villagers were stunned when they saw the rodents frantically scramble to disappear.
A miracle happened. The village chief quickly spread the news. The wonderful cats went from home to home in search of mice and rats. The villagers were able now to enjoy a full night’s sleep without fear that the pests would eat their stored food.
The widow’s son explained to the villagers that there was a male and female cat. After some months the village would be populated with many cats so that the rodent population would be completely controlled.
The villagers organized a meeting and decided to thank the widow’s son and reward him for his invaluable help. They gifted him a “mysterious pomegranate” that the village elders had inherited from their revered ancestors. They thought it would be an appropriate gift to reciprocate the widow’s son for his gift of the mysterious chest.
The merchant approved of the widow’s son’s wisdom and foresight. He also rewarded him by giving him the caravan’s lead mule so that the experienced animal could safely carry the valuable mysterious pomegranate.
The next day the caravan set out again toward its next stop. On the road, the merchant’s caravan encountered another merchant caravan that was going toward Istanbul. The widow’s son asked the other caravan leader if he would accept his mule carrying the mysterious pomegranate and safely direct the mule to his mother in Istanbul. The other merchant agreed.
Let’s leave the merchant’s caravan to its travels from country to country and return to Istanbul to the widow’s home to learn what has transpired there. The widow’s daughter-in-law was pregnant and after some time gave birth to a son. The friendly merchant, who agreed to take the mule laden with the mysterious pomegranate to Istanbul, arrived and delivered the mule and its load to the widow.
As it is sometimes the natural instinct of a woman who gives birth to a baby, the widow’s daughter-in-law felt a strong urge to eat a pomegranate. Not having any other pomegranate in her home at that particular moment, the widow thought of giving the new mother the mysterious pomegranate that her son sent her. The widow opened the mysterious pomegranate by banging it on the floor in order to open its rind and then separate its seeds by hand for her daughter-in-law to east. The widow and her bride were astonished to see that the mysterious pomegranate contained precious jewels instead of ordinary seeds.
They suddenly became immensely wealthy. They sat down together and had a very serious talk about how the time was ripe to invest their wealth. They devised a plan to build a fabulous palace that would attract the attention of the king. This would gradually prepare for the opportunity to one day reestablish justice and truth concerning the king’s treatment of his daughter and her husband.
The widow invited the most famous and expert architects to her home. She explained her plans to build a fabulous palace that would incorporate the most modern architectural design in order to far exceed in every way the king’s palace. With the help and advice of the architects, the widow and her bride purchased a prominent plot of land on the most chic street of Istanbul which is in the Taksim neighborhood. The two ladies requested the architects to prepare detailed drawings for the new palace. The widow and her bride would choose the best of all the designs.
After years of submissions, the widow and her bride finally chose the best architectural plan. Soon the work began on the foundation of the superb new palace. The progress was slow on the foundation in order to be sure that it would be secure for the future building.
Let us leave the architect and the construction people to do their work. The widow and her bride oversaw the work. They lovingly raised the male child. The days turned into months and eventually years. They boy grew to adolescence. We will return to the merchant’s caravan and the widow’s son. The merchant traveled from one great metropolis to another selling his wares and buying new merchandise to sell. After ten years of such profitable selling, the merchant’s caravan finally reached his home town.
The merchant was married to a beautiful and somewhat young wife who he loved dearly. However, his wife feigned love for the merchant. She was unfaithful.
When the caravan reached the home town, the merchant’s wife organized a grand welcome home coming for her husband. During the party dinner, the unfaithful wife was introduced to her husband’s most faithful servant, the widow’s son. It was lust at first sight for the unfaithful wife of the merchant.
She tried to mask her unfaithfulness toward her husband and at the same time appear to be very motherly toward the widow’s son. She requested her husband to let the widow’s son stay in their spacious home and treat him like their own son. They were without children and it would fill a vacuum in their life to treat her husband’s most faithful servant as their own son.
The merchant, who already had a natural affection for the widow’s son, appreciated very much his wife’s beautiful thought. He accepted enthusiastically his wife’s motherly attitude toward his faithful servant and agreed to her proposal.
But the merchant’s wife’s mind was bent toward mischief. Her thoughts were lustful and forbode trouble. From the very first day the merchant’s faithful servant moved into the house, the lusty merchant’s wife began to expertly tempt the widow’s son with her seductiveness. Every occasion the merchant’s wife gave an affectionate look, hugged, kissed, and posed in seductive postures, the widow’s son remained unmoved and neutral and maintained a sympathetic innocent demeanor.
But the merchant’s wife was not a person that was easily deterred from her lusty purpose. Day by day, weeks by week, month by month, she continued her unsavory pursuit of seduction by setting up many situations where she could trap the young man into her net of illicit love. She dressed in very attractive clothes with near exposed body parts in order to victimize the young man by her lusty desires. During the difficult moments of temptation, the widow’s son would remember the two gems of wisdom he purchased: “One who follows the path of righteousness never goes wrong” and “You remain on the right path of truth. The crooked will surely receive their just punishment.” He also meditated on his mother’s advice: ” Always live honorably by remembering his two acquired gems of wisdom so that whenever he may encounter difficult times of temptation, he should follow the path of moral and righteous living as enjoined by the wise words he paid to receive.”
Remembering his acquired wisdom and his mother’s words, the widow’s son remained resolute to not fall into the evil traps of the unfaithful merchant’s wife. When the lusty woman saw that her husband was preparing his caravan to move on again she became desperate. All of her attempts to lure her husband’s faithful servant to make love to her failed. None of her seductive traps worked to make the young man a victim of her conquest to enjoy him. Without hope to succeed, she decided to take a terrible revenge on the young man.
One day, when the widow’s son was absent from the merchant’s house and the merchant was expected to arrive at any moment, the evil merchant’s wife purposely tore the clothes she was wearing. She used her fingernails to dishevel her hair, and scratch her face. She began to wail pitifully as her husband entered the house.
The merchant looked at his wife’s sad condition and tried to comfort her until her screeching anger subsided. She addressed him with her trembling and pleading voice: “Your faithful servant just tried his best to destroy your “family honor,” and because I resisted, he beat me up and left me in this condition. She stropped talking and began to tremble and cry.
The enraged merchant decided on the spot to take revenge on his servant. However, the merchant’s wife suggested that her husband not give the faithful servant a chance to defend his actions. She proposed that he punish the servant in a secretive way so that no one else knew about his attempt to defile her honor. The merchant agreed with his wife to keep the event a secret. He devised a plan for revenge.
He went to a far off acquaintance of his who was a baker with a big oven. He paid him a big amount of money and said: “In a short while, if a person comes to see you and says “what happened to the merchant’s order.” Without any questions asked or discussion throw that person into your oven and close the door.”
When the merchant returned home, he reassured his wife that his servant would soon be dead. In other words, his friend the baker who lived some distance from their house would throw the man into his oven and burn him to a crisp. His evil wife noted the address and name of the baker. She wanted to be sure to verify that the widow’s son would indeed be killed otherwise she would not feel safe if he survived.
When the widow’s son returned to the merchant’s house, his employer asked him to step outside and spoke to him: “Please go to
the baker’s shop at such and such address and ask him the following question with these exact words: “What happened to the merchant’s order.” Please ask him with these exact words and not one word more. The faithful servant left for the baker’s shop and the merchant entered the house to reassure his wife that his faithful servant would be roasted in fifteen minutes in the baker’s oven.
On the road between the merchant’s house and the baker’s shop there was a church. As the widow’s son came close to the church, an instinctual thought entered his mind. He reflected how, since he and his mother left their ancestral village, he had not entered a church. He felt a tremor of shame that he had been so long away from prayer and church. In a seemingly mysterious and magnetic way he entered the church. He began to listen to the priest’s chants of ancient prayers. He felt some encouragement for his lonely soul. He began to say a prayer for the protection of his distant mother and wife. In the customary way, he remained until the priest finished the hourly prayer out of respect.
Let us leave the widow’s son to his prayers and return to the merchant’s house. The merchant’s wife waits a quarter of an hour which extends to a half hour and then she became very impatient to receive the good news that the faithful servant was toast. She felt insecure without the news for fear her ruse would be exposed. Impatient, she rushed out of the house and ran toward the baker’s shop. She enters the shop out of breath and comes up to the baker who has his baker’s shovel in his hand. She asks him a question with her rapid and breathless voice: “What happened to the merchant’s order?”
The baker, without asking any questions grabbed the woman and forcibly threw her into the oven with the help of his baker’s shovel. She landed on the burning hot coals and the baker slammed the oven door shut so that she had no hope of escape.
After finishing his prayers and hearing the hourly prayers of the priest to completion, the widow’s son left the church feeling somewhat guilty that he stayed so long and thus would be late arriving at the baker’s shop. But, he felt certain that his kindhearted boss would understand the reason for his lateness. He ran toward the baker’s shop. On arriving and seeing the baker, he asked: “What happened to the merchant’s order?” The baker replied: “Go and tell the merchant that his order wasn’t carried out to the last detail without any trouble.”
When the boy returned home, he explained to his boss what the baker said. Without saying a word, the merchant ran out of the house toward the baker’s shop. He murmured to himself: “There is a mystery that needs to be unraveled in this ordeal.”
When he arrived, he asked the baker why his order was not executed. The baker replied that he perfectly performed the task he was commissioned to do by the merchant. He explained the same thing to the second messenger (the widow’s son) that the merchant sent him. The merchant was confused by the baker’s explanation and said, “How is that?”
The baker explained: “You instructed me that if a person present himself or herself and says, “What happened to the merchant’s order?”, I was to throw that person into the oven with no questions asked. Is it not like that?”
“Yes,” said the merchant, “but……”
(Paiytz-maiytz chee gah) “There is no but or mutt,” interrupted the baker. “A woman came running to my bakery and asked the question with the same exact words “What happened to the merchant’s order?” I subdued her and threw her into the oven as you ordered me to do. No questions asked.”
The merchant understood now what happened. He returned home and asked his faithful servant to explain in detail the nature of the relationship between himself and the merchant’s wife. At first, the servant was visibly uncomfortable about talking on such a sensitive subject. He was worried that if the merchant found out the truth he might become passionately angry with his wife. The faithful servant would become the catalyst for fomenting an argument between husband and wife. But the merchant proceeded to reveal that his wife had confided in him that the faithful servant had molested her and attempted to defile her sexually. The merchant had secretly arranged with the baker to kill the faithful servant by throwing him into the oven. But by a quirk of fate, his wife ended up in the oven instead of the widow’s son. After hearing about the treachery of the merchant’s wife, the faithful servant began to explain in detail all the temptations and sexual exhortations that the merchant’s wife subjected him to in order to distract him from the path of righteousness and defile his employer’s “family honor.” (The word for “family honor” in Armenian is uhndahnehgan bahdeev. Often the Turkish word for the same meaning is used. It is nahmouss.)
The widow’s son related how he remembered the two gems of wisdom he purchased in Istanbul from street vendors as well as his own mother’s advice to always remember and benefit from the gems of wisdom for his own protection in life. Because of this, he was able to withstand the temptations and traps of passions tendered by the merchant’s wife.
After hearing all the explanations, said to the widow’s son: “My dear son, the crooked receive their just reward (dzouruh eer baddeejuh kuhdhav). You did not stray from the path of righteousness. Therefore, I will reward you handsomely. From this day on, you are no longer my servant. You are my business partner and my adopted child. After my death, you will become my only heir.”
It was time for the caravan to depart. The merchant ordered the caravan to roll out of his hometown.
Let us leave the caravan to proceed on its slow journey from country to country until it will eventually reach Istanbul. Let us turn our attention again to the widow and her royal daughter-in-law. They advanced significantly the building of their new palace with tremendous effort. The widow’s grandson attained adolescence. The king began to notice with interest the construction of the matchless palace coming up near his royal palace.
When the construction of the new palace was completed, the widow’s grandson reached the age of a young man. The king sent his men to gather information about the owners of the new palace. They reported that three persons lived in the new palace: a widow, her daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law’s only son who was twenty years old. The king was informed that the widow’s son who was the daughter-in-law’s husband was a servant of a very wealthy businessman who traveled from country to country with his caravan selling wares. However, due to the servant’s faithfulness to the traveling merchant, he had become his intimate friend and partner. The caravan was slated to return to Istanbul very shortly.
The king sent his representatives to invite the twenty year old young man to join his hunting group for a weekend excursion. The youth asked the advice of his grandmother and mother before accepting the invitation. At the same time, the merchant’s caravan finally arrived in Istanbul. The twenty year old youth greeted his father and immediately brought him to the new palace. When the widow’s son set eyes on the palace, he praised the ingenuity of his mother and wife for building such a magnificent building. The merchant, as was his habit, stayed in his stately tent.
After some days, the widow called her son and his wife and spoke to them the following words: “The time has come that they reveal their identities to the king. She added: “During an unfortunate moment of anger, the king thought he was going to punish his insubordinate daughter. But, in reality, it was he who was punished by not seeing his only daughter for twenty years. I think his period of punishment should come to an end. We should take advantage of his newly found hunting friend, our grandson, and ask the youth invite the king to dinner. He will discover anew his long lost daughter and hopefully become reconciled.
The widow’s son and his wife appreciated immensely the wisdom of the widow. Their son invited the king to dine in the newly constructed palace with his family. They had waited for some time to be invited to the superb palace in order to become acquainted with his new neighbors. He willingly accepted the invitation. The widow’s son also invited his benefactor and business partner, the merchant, who would be extremely honored to share the dinner invitation with the king.
The traditional custom when receiving honored guests like the rich merchant and especially the king, was to separate by a partition the women from the men. The partition was a heavy curtain behind which the ladies directed the servants in every detail of serving the dinner.
The king, the merchant, and the twenty year old son of the host along with his father who traveled with the merchant for twenty years sat at the table. The king was not able to recognize who his host was because he only had a cursory glimpse twenty years before of the widow’s son who worked as a day laborer. The widow’s son was now a very prominent man. The king couldn’t even imagine that he had met the widow’s son twenty years before.
The four enjoyed a very fun-filled and tasty meal together. When they were ready to get up from the dinner table, the curtain that separated the women from the men was opened so that the widow and her daughter-in-law entered the company of the four men.
The king’s daughter walked up to her father. The king and the merchant were shocked out of their wits by the following words that she addressed to her father. “Father, I am your only daughter that you made a vow to reject and denied any inheritance. At the time you arranged on the spot that I marry the widow’s son who was a common day laborer. I must confide in you that I had already fallen in love with him at first sight and secretly wanted to marry him.
She pointed to her mother-in-law and her husband. This is the widow who chose to repair and decorate her modest house in order to have a justified pride in home ownership by repairing her broken, leaky roof with the three gold coins you gave to her son. You gave him the three coins on my request because he was carrying very heavy stones on his bare back all day long just to earn an honest living. You ordered him to purchase a mule to lighten the load on his back. But his mother asked him to let her use the money to repair the roof. He agreed because of his respect and love for his mother and exposed himself to your ire for not following your order. He is my heart’s darling. He has evolved by the grace of his “household building” mother’s astute advice, guidance and good wishes to become the work partner and eventual heir of this very wealthy merchant.
Do you remember when I made the observation about the hard working and faithful demeanor of the young day laborer who you insisted on laying off because he did not purchase a mule with your three gold coins. I cautioned you that you should also consider his obligation to follow his mother’s advice because she is a “home and hearth builder.” I feel blessed that I was able to find shelter under the tutelage of such a “home building mother” so much so that I have also become a “home building mother.”
The merchant began to speak. He related the history of his unfaithful wife and how she was in reality a “Family destroyer.” He concluded: “A wife can build a family and a wife can break a family.” (A wife can make or break the family)
The king asked his “son-in-law” to sincerely suggest to his mother and his business partner, the merchant whose wife betrayed his confidence, to agree to get married. The king’s suggestion was actually a royal order to the home building widow and the merchant. They accepted the proposal. The king summoned a Christian priest who performed the marriage of the widow to the merchant.
The king was very happy to have found his long lost and presumed dead daughter. He was already an old man. He wanted to correct the wrong he committed in banning his daughter and depriving her of her rightful heritage. He decided to step down from his throne and declare his daughter the queen of the kingdom. He designated his son-in-law as the guardian of the throne and his twenty year old grandson the heir to the throne.
They all achieved their heart’s desires. May those who have read this tale also reach their heart’s desire.
He eats his own buggers (because he is so stingy)
keentehn tzoghuh goudeh
The person who calculates to the penny the amount of garlic to buy cannot make good soup
suhghdohreh hahseev uhnoghuh kahsht cheeguhrnahr oudehl
In order to make something very tasty and nutritious, one should not be stingy about using good ingredients. Otherwise, the end result will be a mediocre dish.
Kahsht is a soup made with a goat’s head and feet. It is disgusting. However, in eastern Turkey and parts of the Caucasian mountains, some perople (Armenians included) consider it a delicacy. The soup is simmered with the animal parts for at least 24 hours. Its horrible smell pervades the entire village.In the early morning people come with their bowls to taste the kahsht soup during the cold season. In order to mask the horrible taste of the animal parts, a large amount of garlic is used as a seasoning. You could say that kahsht is a garlic soup with severed limbs of an animal in it. It can contain brown lentils and other herbs and vegetables.
One cheek (or half the face) of a beggar is blackened, Both cheeks (or the whole face) of one who refuses to give (is blackened)
ouzogheen megk yeressuh sev
cheeduhvogheen yergou yeressuh
Let me speak well so that I will be well
Lav ehshem lav uhlam
This proverb expresses the power of positive thinking. Our words have meaning. If we lie, we will perhaps cause lies to happen as a quirk of fate.
There was a man who was able to build up a great amount of wealth. He kept his wealth as gold and jewels in a private place in his house. His living style was very frugal so that it was difficult to understand that he had wealth. One day a saint came to his house to beg alms. On being asked, the rich misery became impatient with the saint.
He said, “I would like to give you something, but I have no money.”
The all seeing saint said, “What about all the wealth you have hidden in your house?”
The miser became worried, but maintained that he only had rubbish and other unwanted worthless things in his house. He lied because he had no intention of giving any alms to the saint.
When the saint heard his words he said, “So be it.” He left dissatisfied.
The miser went to his secret cache to see his wealth as he was accustomed to do since this was his only real joy in life. When he uncovered the cache of wealth, he saw only rubbish and unwanted worthless things instead of his money. He realized he made a big mistake by lying to the saint who left saying, “So be it.”
By his own words and the power of the saint’s confirmation, his wealth was made worthless.
We should always speak and wish good things for ourselves and others. We should do this by seeing the cheerful side of life rather than the dark side and always being thankful for our blessings. If we are blessed with wealth, we should use it generously to do good to our family and society. Above all, never lie to saintly people for it brings ruin to one’s life.
How to pacify nature
How to pacify nature
There are lessons to be learned when we carefully observe world events. The truth stares us in the face at all times. The symptom of everyday life is to ignore it and continue our mundane affairs, which revolve around trying to exploit the resources of nature for personal sense gratification. There are lessons to be learned when we carefully observe world events. The truth stares us in the face at all times. The symptom of everyday life is to ignore it and continue our mundane affairs, which revolve around trying to exploit the resources of nature for personal sense gratification.
The material world is an expansion of God’s infinite energy. It cannot be owned or controlled by finite men with their dreams of mastering it for their profit and pleasure.
Man comes into this world and is conditioned by having a material body that is subject to the forces of nature. He tries to dominate nature, but is instead subjected to the laws of nature and the sufferings of repeated birth and death. Throughout his life, he is constantly reminded of nature’s infinite power and uncontrollable forces that upset all of his plans to dominate and enjoy. Such overpowering events are constant reminders that man is not sovereign in this world. There are forces that are controlled by higher powers that are superior to man for whom we have no recourse but to submit. We experience these forces in our own body and in nature.
I will give a few examples of the overpowering forces of nature that man is forced to submit to and tolerate.
1. Tsunami in Southeast Asia December 26, 2004 nearly 230,000 deaths
2. Hurricane Katrina 2005 1836 deaths and 81 billion dollars in damage in Louisiana, USA
3. Earthquake in Haiti 2010 230,000 dead
4. Iceland Volcano eruption 2010 disrupted air travel across the Atlantic for weeks
5. Gulf Coast Oil leak 2010 this the most devastating environmental disaster in USA history and it is still not ended
The only recourse is to try and reconstruct after the damage is done. This, of course, is completely contrary to man’s will and desire, but he has no choice. Man can simply observe such overpowering disasters. He attempts temporary relief work, starts varieties of public and governmental institutions and policies to address the terrible suffering caused by nature’s devastating power. But, government has no solution how to pacify the insurmountable nature. This question is discussed in the Bhagavad-gita because it is of up most importance for man’s survival.
Without a correct and comprehensive understanding of the purpose of life in this world, man cannot plan how to have a successful life. With wrong answers, man is forced to suffer helplessly by violating the laws of nature due to ignorance. There is a verse in the Bhagavad-gita that helps to shed light on this question,
“Nature is said to be the cause of all material causes and effects, whereas the living entity is the cause of the various sufferings and enjoyments in this world.” (Bg 13, 21)
According to Vedic philosophy, living entities and material nature are both eternal or without beginning and endless. The living entities are eternal souls with individuality and limited free will. Their free will is limited to either accepting or rejecting God’s instructions. Depending on which way they decide, there are consequences. By accepting God’s instructions as the guiding principles of life, one gradually becomes free of the influence of the three modes of material nature (goodness, passion and ignorance) that condition us to be attached to the temporary body and its temporary pleasures and pains. By rejecting God’s instructions, one becomes entangled by the reactions to activities that breach natural laws. Possible consequences of such errant behavior are natural cataclysms, body ailments, trouble caused by other living beings and repeated birth and death in an endless cycle because the soul is eternal. The soul can be eternally liberated or eternally chained to a cycle of repeated birth and death.
God’s instruction as revealed by Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita and other bona fide scriptures like the Bible, Koran, etc., give an explicit detail of forbidden activities that will result in adverse reactions and prescribed duties that free one from the cycle of suffering. The Bible, Koran and Torah have the Ten Commandments and other codes to regulate human behavior. The Vedas have four regulative principles to avoid and four to do:
1- No meat eating including red meat, chicken and fish
2- No illicit sex outside of marriage
3- No gambling or philosophical speculation
4- No intoxication
1- Read and discuss Holy Scriptures like Bhagavad-gita, Bible, Koran, etc.
2- Eat only sanctified vegetarian foods that have been offered first to God
3- Chant and meditate on God’s names (holy mantras)
4- Volunteer for service in a temple or house of God in the association of holy people
Further, the Vedas recommend nine favorable activities to develop spiritual consciousness, daily hearing, chanting and remembering the glories of God, serving, praying, worshiping, becoming the servant, making friendship with and surrendering completely to God. Any one, several or all of these principles will cause one to develop spiritual consciousness, which means one acts with the knowledge that God is a supreme controller and proprietor of nature. God has a plan how the living entities can live in this world happily and at last attain liberation from the suffering of birth, old age, disease and death.
The plan of God for suffering mankind entails first recognizing that God is the supreme controller and owner of nature and everything in it. Once man recognizes this fact, he can learn to use everything in nature to serve the purpose of God rather than trying to usurp God’s creation for his selfish purposes. This change of world view is the beginning of real human life. If we use things to serve God’s pleasure, nature and time, which are both controlled by God, support and cooperate with man to help him reach the goal of life.
The root cause of sin is deliberate disobedience of the laws of nature through disregarding the proprietorship of the Lord. Disobeying the laws of nature or God’s instructions, brings ruin to a human being and society. Endowed with free will, man needs to be educated how to properly exercise it. Making decisions based on knowledge and certitude that we are subordinate to God’s will and that we cannot achieve anything without the approval of God, helps us to determine right action from wrong. Ignorance of this fact leads us to make fundamental mistakes and violate natural laws that bring about misfortune and suffering.
The Bible states a law of God, “Thou shalt not kill.” This sounds simple and unequivocal. Yet, it is the subject of speculation. It is generally understood to mean one should not murder another human being. Yet, the word kill refers to any kind of killing, not only murder. Misinterpreting this direct law of God causes continual suffering because following a wrong conclusion about killing could destroy any hopes one has of living peacefully and achieving genuine love of God. One cannot disobey God and receive His favor and protection throughout life. To avoid speculation, one needs to understand this
law of nature from an authority in Vedic knowledge. The Manu Samhita, considered the law book of the Vedas state in chapter 5 that there are very restricted conditions under which one may eat meat, but never the meat of cows. Those conditions are limited to animals that are permitted for sacrifice by priests. One is never permitted to just kill or purchase meat for consumption outside of ritually slaughtered animals. If you read the following texts, you see that meat eating is severely restricted and, in fact, not encouraged.
27. One may eat meat when it has been sprinkled with water, while Mantras are recited, when Brahmanas desire you do it, when one is engaged (in the performance of a rite) according to the law, and when one’s life is in danger.
31. The consumption of meat (is befitting) for sacrifices. It is declared to be a rule made by the gods; but to persist (in using it) on other (occasions) is said to be a proceeding worthy of Rakshasas (demonic beings).
37. If he has a strong desire (for meat) he may make an animal of clarified butter or one of flour, (and eat that); but let him never seek to destroy an animal without a (lawful) reason.
38. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in future births.
39. Svayambhu (the Self-existent) himself created animals for the sake of sacrifices; sacrifices (have been instituted) for the good of this whole (world); hence the slaughtering (of beasts) for sacrifices is not slaughtering (in the ordinary sense of the word).
45. He who desires to please himself by injuring peaceful beings will never finds happiness, neither living nor dead.
46. He, who does not seek to cause the sufferings of bonds and death to living creatures, but desires the good of all (beings), obtains endless bliss.
47. He who does not injure any (creature), attains without an effort what he thinks of, what he undertakes, and what he fixes his mind on.
48. Meat can never be obtained without injury to living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to (the attainment of) heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun (the use of) meat.
49. Having well considered the (disgusting) origin of flesh and the (cruelty of) fettering and slaying corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh.
50. He who, disregarding the rule (given above), does not eat meat like a Pisaka, becomes dear to men, and will not be tormented by diseases.
51. He who permits (the slaughter of an animal), he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells (meat), he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, (must all be considered as) the slayers (of the animal).
52. There is no greater sinner than that (man) who, though not worshipping the gods or the manes, seeks to increase (the bulk of) his own flesh by the flesh of other (beings). (Manu Samhita, Chapter 5)
The laws of Manu were spoken and preserved in oral tradition long before the appearance of Lord Krishna, which was over 5000 years ago. After the disappearance of Lord Krishna, the age of Kali (hypocrisy and quarrel) began 5000 years ago. Because people in this age have poor memories, Manu’s laws were written. The first recorded texts of the laws of Manu date about 500 B.C. However, with the advent of the age of Kali, more restrictions came into effect because of the lack of qualification of the brahman class.
53. Five things are forbidden in the age of Kali: horse-sacrifice, cow-sacrifice, acceptance of sannyasa, offering flesh to the forefathers and begetting a child in the womb of the wife of one’s elder brother. (Brahma-vaivarta Purana, Krsna-jnama Khanda 185.180). Almost all the rituals in which meat was required to be offered were eliminated. The only possibility for ritual meat in this age of Kali is the following: license is given to meat eaters to sacrifice a black goat once a month on the new moon night. It is strictly forbidden to purchase a commercially slain animal for consumption. The person who wants to eat meat must kill the goat on a dark (or new) moon night under the supervision of a priest who instructs him to repeat the following mantra before cutting the throat of the goat, mamsa khadatiti mamsah. The Sanskrit mamsah means, mam – me, and sa – he. “I am killing this animal; I am eating him. In my next life, he will kill and eat me.” Before the animal is sacrificed, this mantra is recited into the ear of the animal. “You are giving your life, so in your next life you will get the opportunity of becoming a human being. And I, who am now killing you, will become an animal, and you will kill me.”
The purpose of the ritual and the repetition of the mantra is to contain unrestricted meat eating by forcing the meat eater to kill the animal himself and witness the horror of the act as well as to repeat the mantra that reveals the consequences of such an act. Such regulation is meant to discourage the meat eater by making him understand that he will be held accountable for such unnecessary killing. Unrestricted meat eating is strictly forbidden in this age.
It is not only the person who eats the meat that becomes implicated by eating the dead animal, but also those who assist in the process.
54. He who permits (the slaughter of an animal), he who cuts it up, he who kills it, he who buys or sells (meat), he who cooks it, he who serves it up, and he who eats it, (must all be considered as) the slayers (of the animal).
55. There is no greater sinner than that (man) who, though not worshiping the gods or the manes, seeks to increase (the bulk of) his own flesh by the flesh of other (beings).
From the Vedic point of view, people who eat meat or participate in providing it, especially cow, are condemned to suffer for their brutal acts. This point was emphasized over five hundred years ago by Lord Caitanya, the incarnation of Lord Krishna in this age of Kali, to Chand Kazi, a Muslim scholar of the Koran. He explained a statement in the Bhagavad-gita ( 18. 44),
“The duty of vaisyas (businessmen and agriculturalists) is to produce agricultural products, trade and give protection to cows.” Thus, in Vedic society, it is imperative to protect cows, not eat them. It is forbidden to kill a cow or a bull in this age. Lord Caitanya told Chand Kazi in the Sri Caitanya-caritamrita (Adi-lila, Chapter 17, verse 166), “ Cow killers are condemned to rot in hellish life for as many thousands of years as there are hairs on the body of the cow.”
Therefore, modern spiritual teachers, whether in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism are misleading their faithful by engaging them in meat eating which will result in massive suffering in this life and the next. The ritual killing in Islam and Judaism to obtain hallal (or hillal) meat is also misleading because it includes cows. Judaism continued the pre-Kali yuga dietary rules of the Vedas without reference to restrictions in this age to cow sacrifice as well as ignoring the Vedic purpose of gradually eliminating all animal sacrifice through severely restricted animal sacrifice. The Old Testament indicates very severe restriction on animal flesh consumption. In Genesis 9, “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. 4 Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.” For your lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning; of every beast I will require it and of man; of every man’s brother I will require the life of man.” In these verses, the God of the Bible restricts man from eating animal flesh with blood still in it. This is impossible. Therefore, meat is strictly forbidden unless there is no blood in it. The God of the Bible says He will require a reckoning for the blood of the every animal man eats.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad writes about Lord Jesus Christ in his commentary on the Srimad Bhagavatam (7.15.10), “Animal sacrifice in the name of religion is current practically all over the world in every established religion. It is said that Lord Jesus Christ, when twelve years old, was shocked to see the Jews sacrificing birds and animals in the synagogues and that he therefore rejected the Jewish system of religion and started the religious system of Christianity, adhering to the Old Testament commandment, â€œThou shalt not kill.” At the present day, however, not only are animals killed in the name of sacrifice, but the killing of animals has increased enormously because of the increasing number of slaughterhouses. Slaughtering animals in the name of religion or for food is most abominable and is condemned herein. Unless one is merciless, one cannot sacrifice animals as a religious act or for food.”
In the case where there is a famine and no other food available, the Vedas permit eating animal flesh for survival, but not otherwise.
The tragedy of modern life is that the common people are being misled into sinful acts in the name of religion by religious leaders and politicians who are ignorant or purposely ignore the laws of nature as given by God in the different scriptures. When the deep meaning of “Thou shalt not kill” is realized, one refrains from unnecessary killing. Saint Paul wrote, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.” (Romans 14:21-23 NIV)
We should have faith that God loves all His creatures. Therefore, we should not kill if we can avoid it. The principle of ahimsa – nonviolence is not to cause harm to others verbally, physically or by withholding information about God’s instructions for man. Unnecessary killing will bring disaster upon mankind as we are seeing today. Therefore the four regulative principles of Vedic life, no meat, no illicit sex, no intoxication, no gambling are meant to help us avoid breaking the laws of nature and thus suffering. By living according to the correct understanding of God’s instructions, we can avoid unnecessary suffering and bring about a pacification of nature by which man can live peacefully. Without pleasing God, we become a victim of our own misdeeds by breaking the laws of nature for which there will be a reckoning.
The impractical man’s speech is longwinded.
ahnhuhnahr (duhkehd) marhtoun lehzoun yehrgahr guhlah
(Literally, the tongue of the impractical man is long.)
One whose foot slips and falls will rise, but one whose tongue slips may never rise
vohtkohv uhngadzuh guh pahrtzrahnah, lehzvohv uhngahdzuh chee pahrtzrahnah
When you open your mouth, open also your eyes
Pehrahnut pahnahloun, ahckut pahtz
If we speak worthy words that uplift the spirit, we’ll hear good tidings in return
lahv uhsshehnk, lav luhsshenk
If you speak well, You’ll hear good words (in return)
The art of speaking the truth in a pleasant way and concisely is a sign of true eloquence. Speaking truthfully and beneficially while avoiding speech that offends is control of speech. A teacher can speak the truth to instruct his students. But, a teacher should not speak to others who are not his students if he risks agitating their minds. The art of positive communication is uplifting and always will have a positive return of kind words.
If one cannot speak kind, encouraging words, it is better to remain silent. It is said as long as a fool is silent, he remains unrecognized. But, as soon as he speaks, he is known as a fool.
Speech is one immediate way to recognize the quality of a person. It is the most important quality of any person. One cannot speak kindly unless he has a pure heart and clean mind. Feigning a gentle nature may last for some time, but eventually one’s true nature will manifest.
By keeping oneself free of sinful activities and engaged in beneficial works meant to please God and all fellow men, one can have a pure heart and clean mind. Then, it is very easy to speak pleasantly.
The leaders of society have a responsibility to express themselves with respectful and endearing words. But, this is not possible for those persons whose minds are always in the gutter of politics, money, sex and power. Their speech turns often to sarcasm and acrimonious rants. One example was former Vice President Dick Cheney. He addressed very filthy words to Pat Leahy, another elected politician. Joe Biden, the present Vice-President, also used very foul language when he thought his microphone was off.
Such unclean language is an indication that those persons’ minds are frequently meditating on filthy subjects. Thus, their speech off-the-cuff reflects their internal mental disposition. They invariably receive criticism for their harsh speech.
Language expresses thoughts. Cyrano de Bergerac was a brave swordsman who was considered ugly because he had a very big nose. He was a very eloquent man who could express endearing thoughts with great flights of poetic eloquence. Christian, who was in love with Roxanne, was not able to express his love with eloquent with words. He implored Cyrano to help him talk with Roxanne with poetic intimacy. In the shade of night, Cyrano would accompany Christian to the garden below the bedroom window of Roxanne. Christian would call out for Roxanne. She would appear on the balcony. Roxanne would beseech her lover Christian, “Gather your dreams together into words.” Then Cyrano would poetically speak to her as if he was Christian. His eloquent words captured the heart of Roxanne. She thought it was Christian who spoke such words. In the end, Roxanne discovers belatedly that it was Cyrano who spoke to her from the shade and not Christian and her love was actually meant for him. When Cyrano is about to die, Roxanne says that she does not care if Cyrano is ugly. It is his eloquence of loving expressions that has captured her heart.
There is a sanskrit aphorism that says,
satyam bruyat priyam bruyat na bruyat satyam apriyam
priyam ca nanrutam bruyat esha dharmah sanatanah
Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the path of eternal morality called sanatana dharma (in sanskrit).
According to this teaching, there are two conditions that should be followed for speaking the truth. It should be presented with an attitude of affection and it should be spoken to morally uplift others. How one speaks is as important as what is said. If possible, one should speak the truth without hurting others. Only in rare instances, one may put aside this rule to make a point to an obstinate person who is continually misbehaving. Then, once the point is made, abide by this rule again.
There was and there wasn’t twin parrots that were born. One was adopted by a foul-mouthed man and the other by a cultured man of good manners. After a few years, both parrots were able to speak many phrases like human beings. They were very entertaining to whoever heard them. One day, the king of the land was on a royal procession. When he passed the house of the foul-mouthed man, the first parrot began to speak,
“Here comes the king. He is so proud, he forgets he is a stupid dunce.”
When the king heard these insulting words, he commanded his soldiers to arrest the man that spoke the hurtful words. They brought back the parrot that had spoken the insult. When the king saw the parrot, he ordered the parrot killed.
The royal procession continued. When it passed the house of the gentleman, his parrot addressed the king,
“Here comes our king. Praise him and may he live long.”
The king was impressed by the good wishes expressed by the parrot and asked that the parrot and its owner be brought before him. The king asked the gentleman, “Sir, I just killed a parrot that looks exactly like yours. It spoke such filthy words. Can you explain the perplexing difference between the two parrots.” The gentleman replied, “Indeed, the other parrot is the twin of my parrot. It grew up in the company of the foul-mouthed man. My parrot grew up in my home.”
The king understood the value of good company for proper education. He rewarded the gentleman with property and gold and thanked him for his good behavior and example for others to follow.
We should avoid the company of people that use foul language. It will only impair our ability to communicate effectively and sincerely.
Another proverb in Armenian is Ahrach mudatzeer, hehdo khoseer – first think, then speak.
It is said in Armenian lehzvee guhdehradzuh touruh(tahnaguh) chee guhehree – the tongue is sharper than the sword (what the tongue cuts, the sword cannot)
lehzvee dahruh(gudzou) seerdee tzahvuh – a sharp (or spicy hot or nasty) tongue will wound the heart
tahnakgee vehrkuh guh poujvee, seerdee vehrkuh chee poujvee -the wound of a dagger will heal, but that of the tongue, never.
Often people remember hurtful words spoken to them or about them until the end of their days.
Chahr lehzoun ahshkhahr eh kahntoum – the evil tongue will destroy the world.
ahshkharin seenoghuh yehv kahntoghuh lehzoun eh – the tongue can build the world and destroy it
pahnpahsoghuh uhngouzee dohbrahg eh, eehchkahn sahrzehs tzaiyn guh hahneh – the nasty gossiper or criticizer is like a box of walnuts, the more you shake it, the more it makes noise.
nikolaiee douhnuh pahmpasehluh kahntetz – The house(kingdom) of Tzar Nicholas II of Russia was destroyed by nasty criticism. (Nicholas’ house was destroyed by nasty criticism)
lehzvee suhrruh ahchkee gouyruh – lehzoon souhr, ahckuh gouyr- the nasty tongue will blind the eye of the critic or, in other words, when one lowers themselves to speaking nasty criticisms of others, the mind of the critic becomes clouded by emotions of disdain and hatred
sehree tzahvuh meghree hamuh – the more one labors (or suffers) in loves, the more one tastes honey (or nectar) of life
yehteh dahsuh pahn keedees, mehguh ahseer eenuh baheer – if you know ten things, speak one and keep the rest to yourself
yeteh hahmozvahdz ches vor khoskut pahnee degh gahntznee, lahv eh chee khosetz – if you are not sure your words will convey your meaning effectively, better not speak
lehzou gah tegh eh, lezou gah touyn eh – there is a tongue like medicine ( or nectar) and another one like poison (one tongue is like medicine, another like poison)
lehzoun yehrehgpehran eh, mehgov aghohtoum, mouyssohv haihoioum – the tongue is like two mouths, one to pray and one to curse
A newspaper article explained how Russel Simmons, a pioneer in American rap music, has become sick of the repeated vulgarity of rap music. He called for a voluntary ban on the three words he considers the most unacceptable such as the b-word, ho, and the n-word. He claims that these are extreme curse words that are inconsistent with any sense of social responsibility by rap artists or their record companies. He has left out many other offensive words and thoughts expressed by rappers on a regular basis such as the f-word and the loud advocacy of violence and hate. Rap has gravitated to using the cultural medium of gangster and prisoner language for conveying its message of social frustration and revolt. Rap music has appeals to a certain public hungry for such unsavory language. What does this say about American culture? Much of it has deteriorated into the gutter where the minds of young people are poisoned with trashy thoughts and exhortations to violence.
Language is an expression of cultural values. People cannot use good language consistently unless they have a pure mind and heart. Such purity of mind is developed by association with spiritually elevated persons not with gangster or sex-machine impersonators. People are being mislead by mediocre cultural icons who lead pathetic and disastrous personal lives.
Gentle words of peace – pahree khosk khaghaghoutioun
Gentle Words, Words of peace
Let what you speak behind anotherâ€™s back
Be truthful, just, no intent of attack
Let your words be sweet, pleasant to the ear
All will be eager, your wisdom to hear
May you speak no evil, hear no evil
Create no evil nor cause upheaval
Do what is right, always refrain from wrong
Youâ€™ll be appreciated your lifelong
lehzoun aveli mehdz pahnaknehr guh gohdohreh kahn soouruh
The tongue can destroy a large army better than the sword.
The bite of a snake can be healed, but the bite of the tongue may never heal
otzeen khaytadzuh guh lavahgnah, lehzveen khaytadzuh chee lahvanahr
Don’t extend every stinking beard (so that it spreads its foul smell)
ahmen karshahohd behkher mee yerghentznehr
One should not listen to foul talk or repeat it and thus spread its venom
He speech is a incoherent and rambling nonsense
dahnguhr douhnguhr guh zuhrutzeh
According to the dialect of Western Armenian it can also be said: dahng douhng guh zuhroutzeh
In more formal Armenian the same thing can be said as: sahren tzorhen, ahneemahshd guh zuhroutzeh.
sahren tzorhen literally means from the mountains to the valleys, or, in other words rambling. ahneemahshd means
literally without meaning or incoherent.
However, it is very amusing and colorful to say dahnguhr douhnguhr. I remember my mother using this phrase to convey the meaning of rambling, incoherent, and stupid when referring to a person’s nonsense conversation.
The educated refrains from answering abusive words
guhrtehvadz mart ungeert khosgehr chee badaskhanehl
An alternative meaning is, “It takes a big person to refrain from small remarks.”
The tongue is made of soft flesh, yet it has been instrumental in breaking many bones
lezoun gagough mees eh, pietz eench vosgornehr guh charteh
Words reveal the man
khoskuh martuh guh haidneh
Literally, “words reveal the man.”
One can understand the quality of a person by the way they speak.
Speech is the most important quality of a person. It is said that a fool cannot be recognized until he speaks.
If a fool is well dressed and remains calm, he will not be discovered as long as he doesn’t speak. As soon as he speaks, however, he reveals himself to be a fool.
A cultured person never speaks in such a way as to agitate the minds of others. One should only instruct others if the listeners accept the speaker as teacher. If the hearers don’t accept one as a teacher, he should not instruct them if it will agitate their minds. Further, one should not speak nonsense. One should try to say only those things that are supported by scripture and bona fide authority. One should be able to justify one’s statements with proper scriptural authority. Such speech should be pleasing to the ear.
The truth spoken pleasantly is very much appreciated. But the spoken truth should never be compromised in normal conditions. Only if the spoken truth will cause serious harm to someone should it be modulated to avoid injury or death.
The thoughts that come into my mind remain private to me regardless of whatever miseries I suffer in life. But, I’ll enjoy a peaceful mind and freedom if (I learn to) hold my tongue
kuhloughuss yegoghuh eentzmeh guhlah, eench portzank al uhllah
kuhloughuss hahntard eenkuhss azad guhlam teh lehzouss gehhnam
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.”
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.