An excerpt from
the book 'The Wondering Armenians'
By Fr. Aramais
Mirzaian & Dr. Charles A. Price
in Iran in 1750, Haruthiun Shmavonian received his early education mainly
from learned clergymen, whose influence helped him to accept holy orders
later on in his life. He served in the Armenian churches in Iran for a
few years and attained to considerable success there at the outset of his
While in Shiraz, he was unfortunately
plunged into deep sorrow by the loss of his two sons within one week, which
drove him into retirement for several years. During this period he engaged
himself in the further study of the Armenian and Persian languages, which
he mastered successfully.
Through constant persuasion his intimate
friends and well-wishers succeeded in bringing him back to work in his
church. He came to India in 1784 and served as the spiritual head of Armenians
in Madras for forty years.
His great love for literature was
always evident. In addition to his official duties in the church he devoted
long hours to the study and publication of books and papers. In 1789 he
started a printing press where he printed several books in Armenian, his
first publication being "The Martyrology of Virgin Marinch". On the 28th
October 1794, he published the first ever Armenian journal under the title
of "Azdarar" ("Intelligencer"), a monthly magazine containing subjects
of social, commercial and literary interest.
His zeal and perseverance helped
him to overcome many difficulties. He worked unceasingly for the enlightenment
of his compatriots and earned the high esteem of his nationals not only
in India but in all parts of the world as well. Among his diverse undertakings,
he succeeded in manufacturing the paper on which “Azdarar” was printed,
in the contemporary primitive method of hand-made paper production from
cotton-pulp. Unfortunately, the life of this journal was of but short duration
and ended in February, l796, eighteen months after its start. During his
lengthy service in Madras he was gratified to evidence the well-being of
his compatriots, many of whom took an active part in the commercial life
of that famous city.