孝感动天Filial Piety Moved the Heaven
One of the five ancient legendary emperors was Shun, his name was Yao Chong Hua and his title was Yu Shun. His father Gu Sou, his stepmother and his stepbrother Xiang always had plans to murder him. When Shun was asked to repair the roof of the granary, fire was set from below; luckily, he escaped with the bamboo hats in his hands. On another occasion, when Shun climbed down to dig a well, Gu Sou and Xiang poured soil into the well to bury him; and again he got away by digging an underground channel. Despite all these malicious deeds, Shun was still respectful and kind towards his family. His attitude and behavior touched the heaven. When Shun was ploughing and weeding in Li Shan, elephants and birds were sent to help him. When Emperor Yao learned that Shun was a trustworthy great man with ability, he arranged for his two daughters E Huang and Nu Ying to marry him. After years of observation, Emperor Yao eventually chose Shun to be his successor. When Shun became king, he was still respectful to his father and conferred a title of nobility to his stepbrother Xiang.
亲尝汤药Tasting The Medicine By Himself
During the Han Dynasty, Emperor Jing was born as the third child of Emperor Wen and Empress Bo.
When he succeeded to the throne in 180 BC, he was famous for ruling the country with benevolence and filial piety. He attended his mother with great care; while she was bedridden for three years, the Emperor kept her company with little rest for himself. For any medicine that his mother had to take, he would taste it first before letting her take it. During his reign of twenty-four years, he stressed high morals, proper etiquette, agricultural development, social stability, prosperity and economic recovery as well as development. The reigns of Emperor Jing and Emperor Wen are collectively known as “the Age of Wen Jing”.
啮指痛心Biting Fingers and Heartache
During the Chun Qiu Era, one of Confucius’ favorite disciples was Zeng Shen or Zeng Zi. He came from a poor family and always had to go to the mountains to collect firewood. One day, a guest came to visit his family; his mother was unsure about how to deal with the situation and started to bite her fingers. On Zeng Zi’s side, he also started to feel a sudden pain in his heart and knew his mother was calling him. He rushed home, knelt on the floor and asked his mother what had happened. His mother said, “A guest turns up in our place, I bite my fingers hoping that you will come back immediately.” Zeng Zi proceeded to receive the guests with warm hospitality. Zeng Zi was a man with great knowledge, and advocated that one should practice introspection at least three times a day. His important writings included “University”, “Scriptures of Filial Piety” and “Lun Yu”. He was respected as a sacred person in Confucianism.
百里负米Shouldering Rice for Fifty Kilometers
Zhong You, also named Zi Lu, was one of Confucius’ favorite students in the Chun Qiu Era. He was candid, brave and filial. In his early years, the family was rather poor. He had simple meals with wild vegetables for himself, but he would carry rice on his back and walked fifty kilometers to visit his parents. After his parents’ deaths, he became a senior government officer and was ordered to take charge of a place called Chu. His wealth grew along with his new stature. When he rested on his satin sheets and had sumptuous meals, he missed his parents a lot. He often sighed, “Even if I want to eat just wild vegetables and carry rice to go visit my parents, how can that happen again?” Confucius commended him by saying, “In terms of filial piety, you did your best when they were alive; and you continued to have them in your heart even when they passed away!”
芦衣顺母A Dutiful Son Redeemed His Mother
Min Sun or commonly known as Min Zi Qian, is a follower of Confucius in the Chun Qiu Era. He had very high moral standards and was often compared to another Confucian master, Yan Yuan. Confucius used to praise him for his obedience and love for his parents. Min Sun’s mother died young, his father remarried and had two more sons. This stepmother gave him clothing made of reed catkins while saving the warm cotton for her own sons. One winter day, Min Sun went out with his father. He trembled from the cold and accidentally dropped the rope he was holding. He was then reprimanded and whipped. The catkins started to fly out from his clothes torn by the whipping. His father then realized that his wife mistreated his son and was so angry that he wanted to abandon this woman. Min Sun knelt before his father and begged for forgiveness on behalf of his stepmother, saying that “If there is mother, it is only me who is cold; if there is no mother, the three of us will be cold.” His father was deeply touched by his words and forgave his wife. On the other hand, the stepmother, with great remorse and regret, also came to treat him like her own child thereafter.
鹿乳奉亲Serving Parents with Deer’s Milk
Tan Zi was born in the Chun Qiu Period. When his parents got old, they had eye disease and had to take deer’s milk for treatment. To get the milk for his parents, Tan Zi had to put on deerskin so that he could mingle in the deer group undetected. One day, when he spotted that a hunter was about to shoot a deer, Tan Zi quickly revealed himself and told him about his story. The hunter, who was moved by his love for his parents, gave him deer milk as a present and escorted him out of the mountain.
戏彩娱亲Playing in Colorful Clothes to Entertain Parents
Lao Lai Zi, a hermit in the Chun Qiu Era, retreated into Meng Shan Mountain to stay away from political turmoil and worked as a farmer. He was dutiful to his parents and always prepared the most delicious food for them. Despite his age at seventy, he always dressed in colorful clothes and held a drum in hand like that of a child, so as to delight his parents. One day, when he sent some water for his parents, he accidentally slipped at the entrance. In order not to upset them, he just sat on the floor and pretended to cry like a child. His parents ended up having a hearty laugh.
卖身葬父Selling Himself to Bury the Father
Once during the Han Dynasty, there lived a man named Dong Yong, whose mother died when he was young. To stay away from the wars, he sought refuge from Qian Cheng in Shang Tong Province to An Lu of Hu Bei Province. Before long, his father also passed away. Dong Yong was so poor that he could hardly afford the burial expenses; so he ended up selling himself as a slave to a rich family. On his way to work, he met a young woman who was lost under a pagoda tree. Soon, the two got married. His wife was an expert at handicraft, and used only one month’s time to finish knitting 300 pieces of brocades. The money from selling these brocades were sufficient to pay off the debt owed to that rich family and buy back Dong Yong’s freedom. On their return home, under a pagoda tree, his wife told him that she was the daughter of a deity and was sent to help him. She then ascended and flew away into the sky. Since then, the pagoda tree was also named as Xiao Gan, meaning filial piety.
刻木事亲Worshipping Wooden Statues as Real Parents
Ding Lan, a man of the Dong Han Era, lost his parents when he was still young. He was always thinking about his gratitude to his parents for giving him life and bringing him up. To express his love, he carved two wooden sculptures. He treated the sculptures as if they were alive. He would discuss everything with them and pay respects to them before any meals. Before he went out, he would tell the sculptures; and once he was back, he would go greet them right away.
As time lapsed, his wife became impolite to the sculptures. Out of curiosity, she used needles to pierce the fingers of the statues; and miraculously the fingers bled. When Ding Lan came home, he found that there were tears running down the sculptures’ faces. After questioning his wife and discovering the truth, he immediately abandoned her.
行佣供母Going Without to Support the Mother
Jiang Ge, a man who lived in the State of Qi in Dong Han Dynasty, was a very dutiful son to his mother. In war times, he carried his mother on his back to run away from chaos. He had come across bandits and gangsters a number of times, and when they tried to kill him, he would cry and beg, “My mother is old, and there is nobody to take care of her.” The bandits were moved, and set him free. Later, when he moved to settle down in Jiangsu, he worked hard to support his mother. He was poor, having no shoes to wear for himself but the mother had everything she needed. During the reign of Emperor Ming, he became a government official and was known for his filial piety and integrity. He was promoted again during Emperor Zhang to be a fifth-rank officer in recognition for his high standards of moral.
怀橘遗亲Hidden Oranges for the Mother
During the San Guo Period, there lived a scientist known as Lu Ji in the state of Wu. When he was six, he accompanied his father Lu Kang to Jiu Jiang to visit a man called Yuan Shu. Upon arrival, Yuan Shu welcomed them with oranges and Lu Ji hid two of them under his clothes. When Lu Ji was leaving, his oranges fell onto the ground and Yuan Shu mocked him. The little boy said, “My mother likes eating oranges, I would like her to try them.” Yuan Shu was astonished to see a boy, at such a young age, knew how to respect and love his mother. Lu Ji later became a scholar, versed in astrology and calculation; he also authored “Hun Tian Tu” as well as explanatory notes for “Yi Jing” and “Tai Xuan Jing”.
埋儿奉母Burying the Son to Support the Mother
Guo Ju came from a wealthy family in the Jin Dynasty. When his father passed away, Guo Ju divided up the estates and wealth into two portions and gave them away to his two brothers. For himself, he chose to take care of his mother and be a dutiful son. However, as time passed, Guo was getting worse off financially. With the birth of his baby son, he was worried that the money spent on the child would deprive his mother. After discussions with his wife, he said, “We can have a child again later, but if mother dies, she won’t be alive again. So, we had better bury our child and save some food for our mother.” After they dug the ground to about 60 centimeters deep, they found a pot of gold etched with these written words: “God sent to Guo Ju, not to be taken by officials, and not to be robbed by folks”. When this couple received this treasure, they returned home to serve the mother and raise the child.
扇枕温衾Cooling the Pillow and Warming the Bed
Huang Xiang, who lived in Dong Xia during the Dong Han Era, lost his mother at nine and served his father with all his love. In hot summer days, he would use a paper fan to cool his father’s pillow; and in cold winter nights, he would use his body to warm up the bedding. In his teens, he was already well versed in scriptures and possessed a great flair in writing. His talent was well acknowledged and he was described as a prodigy beyond compare. During the reign of Emperor An (107-125 AD), he was a senior official in charge of Wei. When Wei had floods, Huang Xiang would offer all his wealth to help the victims. His works included “Jiu Gong Fu” and “Tian Zi Guan Song”.
拾葚异器Mulberries in Different Containers
Cai Shun came from Henan Province in the Han Dynasty. He lost his father when young and took very good care of his mother. At that time, there was the outbreak of Wang Mang Uprising and famine. Days were extremely difficult and food was expensive. Cai Shun could not afford to buy rice; he could only pick mulberries for his mother as food. One day, he accidentally met the red eyebrow army; the soldiers shouted at him and asked, “ Why do you have to separate the black mulberries from the red, and put them in different containers?” Cai Shun replied, “The black ones (ripe and sweet) are reserved for my mother, the red ones are for myself.” The army was sympathetic towards his situation, and rewarded him with rice and cattle as an appreciation towards his filial piety for his mother.
涌泉跃鲤Carps Jumped from the Well
Jiang Shi and his wife, Pang, were a couple who lived in Guang Han of Sichuan in the Han Dynasty. They set up house near his mother and was several kilometers away from the Yangtze River. Pang always go to the riverside to fetch fresh water as her mother-in-law was fond of that taste. As the mother also loved eating fish, the couple would always prepare it and invited neighbours to dine with her. On one windy day, Pang came home late from the river. Jiang Shi suspected his wife was neglecting his mother and ended up abandoning her. After his abandonment, Pang lived in their neighbour’s house and worked very hard to spin yarn. The neighbours would then send all the earnings she made to her mother-in-law. Later, when the mother realized that Pang was abandoned, she immediately demanded her son to invite her back home. When Pang returned home that day, water suddenly spouted up from the ground in the yard; the taste was just the same as that from Yangtze river. In addition, two carps also came from the water every day. Since then, Pang would use these to serve her mother without having to walk a long distance.
闻雷泣墓Hearing the Thunder and Crying at the Tomb
Wang Pou, a versatile man with many talents, was born in Ying Ling (now Shang Tong Province) during the Wei Jin Period. His father was killed by Si Ma Zhao, one of the founders of the West Jin Empire. Since then, Wang Pou lived in seclusion as a teacher. He took a vow that he would never face the direction of west when he sit; and he would never work for the emperor. When his mother was alive, she was very afraid of thunder. When she passed away, she was buried in the woods. Whenever there were thunderstorms, Wang Pou would rush to her tomb and shouted “Wang Pou is here, Wang Pou is here; mother don’t be afraid”. Every time he came to teach a poem named “Lu E” which was about the gratitude towards one’s parents for all their love and care, he would break into tears and miss his departed parents.
乳姑不怠Feeding the Grandmother
Cui Shan Nan, born in He Bei Province of the Tang Dynasty, used to be an ambassador for the local government. In his family, his great grandmother Madam Zhang Sun was old and toothless. His grandmother Madam Tang was a very loving daughter-in-law, and would go daily to feed Zhang Sun with her own milk. She had been doing this for years, and Zhang Sun was able to maintain good health without having other sources of food. Later, when Zhang Sun fell critically ill, she summoned everybody to her bedside and said, “I have nothing to thank my daughter-in-law, I just hope that everyone in the family will respect her like you would do to me.” When Cui Shan Nan grew up and became a senior officer, he still remembered Zhang Sun’s words and treated his grandmother with all his love and respect.
卧冰求鲤Lying On Ice For Carps
Long time ago, a boy named Wang Xiang lived with his parents in a small village located in Wang Jiang City. Having lost his own mother at young age, he was often mistreated by his stepmother who made him do dirty works and eating only the leftovers. The stepmother later came to have her own child called Wang Lan. Unlike the mother, Wang Lan was kind and he loved his brother. Every time Wang Xiang was beaten, he would protect him with his body; and he would often exchange his food with his brother’s. The stepmother was irritated and plotted to kill Wang Xiang.
One Day, when Wang Xiang returned home from work, his stepmother pretended to reward him with a bowl of chicken broth that was poisoned. Unexpectedly, the younger brother came out to try the food first and was poisoned to death. The stepmother was extremely shocked by what she had done. Filled with grief, she fell gravely ill.
After a while, the stepmother wanted to have some fish soup. Ungrudgingly, Wang Xiang rushed to Ba Liang Que market to get some fish. However, because of freezing weather, there was no fish for sale. Since she was so desperate for fish, he rushed to a frozen pond nearby his village; he took off his clothes and lay on the ice to try to catch fish. His filial piety moved the heaven, and suddenly there was a crack on the pond and two golden carps jumped out from it. Wang Xiang was thrilled. He thought these fishes were god-sent, so he just took a few pieces of scales and released them back into the water. He used the fish scales to make a broth for his stepmother who eventually recovered.
恣蚊饱血Feeding Mosquitoes with His Own Blood
Wu Meng of Jin Dynasty was a man who came to respect and love his parents when he was still young. He came from a poor family and could not afford to buy a mosquito net for the long hot summers. Therefore, during summer nights, he would take off his clothes and sat on his father’s bed to let the mosquitoes sting him. He refused to repel the mosquitoes for he was afraid that these bugs would go sting his father instead. All he wanted was a good night’s sleep for his father.
扼虎救父Clutching the Tiger to Rescue the Father
Yang Xiang was born in the Jin Dynasty. One day, when he was fourteen, he accompanied his father to the fields. Suddenly, a fierce tiger appeared, knocked down his father and was about to drag him away. Although Yang Xiang was unarmed, he jumped on the tiger and used all his strength to grip hard on its throat. After a while, the tiger surrendered, let go of his father and ran away.
哭竹生笋Tears to Grow Bamboo Shoots
Within one and a half kilometers east from Wang Jiang City, there was a temple named Hui Long Gong, behind which was a village called Wu Jia Pu. A fisherman known as Meng Zong lived here with his mother.
Meng Zong was well known for his filial piety. One day, when he came home from fishing, he called his mother several times at the door with no response. He knew something was wrong.
He dropped his fishing equipment, ran into the house and found his mother moaning with pain on bed. He then grabbed some money and rushed out in search of a doctor. It was rather late when he got into the city and most of the shops were closed. He ended up finding a clinic that was closed and knocked hard on the door. Finally, the door was opened by a man with spectacles, he said:
“How dare you knock on my door! I have been busy the whole day; and now, it is not a time for consultation. Come back tomorrow morning.” Just as the doctor was about to close the door, Meng Zong stuck out his foot and begged, “Please pardon my rudeness. My mother is seriously ill. Please give her a consultation.” Knowing that Meng Zong was anxious, the doctor demanded double compensation and an escort back home, and Meng happily accepted.
Through all the darkness, they finally arrived at Meng’s place and the doctor examined his mother. The doctor prepared a prescription and told Meng Zong that he could find all the ingredients at an herbal shop located in East Gate. When he sent the doctor back into town, it was midnight and still dark; he waited right outside the herbal shop and fell asleep. In the morning, he got all his needs from the shop and rushed back home. Despite all his efforts and the subsequent treatments from various doctors, the mother had no improvement. The villagers also showed their sympathy by burning incense and praying, but still in vain.
Meng Zong was very desperate; and suddenly, an old doctor came to his home and offered a consultation for his mother. This man wrote a prescription and stressed that it must be prepared together with fresh and tender bamboo shoots; otherwise, the medicine would not be effective.
It was winter and Meng Zong was anxious about where to find these tender bamboo shoots. Despite his worries, he took a hoe, fought against the chill and tried his best to dig around. He worked so hard that his hands were covered with blisters and blood. When it came to a point that he could no longer persevere, he burst into tears. When his tears ran dry, blood came out from his eyes and dripped to the ground. From the ground where the bloody tears fell, two fresh and tender bamboo shoots miraculously grew.
Meng Zong was very excited, he dug out the bamboo shoots and prepared the medicine for his mother accordingly. His mother recovered immediately and could get out of bed. Meng Zong was very grateful and thanked the heaven for its mercy.
尝粪忧心Tasting Stool and Feeling Worried
Yu Qian Lou, a man known for his high moral standards, was born in the Nan Qi Era. Originally, he was appointed as the chief for Chan Ling County. Less than ten days after his arrival in Chan Ling County, he felt an unknown fear and cold sweat poured from his body. He knew that something was wrong at home, so he turned in his resignations and hurried home. When he arrived home, he discovered that his father had been seriously ill for two days. The doctor said, “ If you want to find out about your father’s condition, you need to taste the stool; if the taste is bitter, it means your father is recovering.” Yu Qian Lou tasted the stool and discovered that it was sweet. He was very worried and knelt in prayer before the Bei Dou Stars at night, begging in vain to exchange his life for his father’s. Several days later, his father passed away; Yu Qian Lou buried him and dressed in mourning for three years.
弃官寻母Giving Up an Official Position in Search of Mother
Zhu Shou Chang came from Tian Chang in the Song Dynasty. When he was seven, his father’s first wife was jealous of his mother and forced her to leave and remarry. Since then, Zhu Shou lost contact with his mother for the next fifty years. He was known for writing a holy scripture known as the “Jin Gang Jin” with his own blood. During the reign of Emperor Shen Zong, he became a government official and began a search for his mother. Finally with some clues as to her whereabouts, he resigned his post and left for Shan Xi. He vowed that he would not return home unless he found her. Eventually he found his mother and his two brothers in Shan Zhou. The family had a happy reunion and came back home together. By this time, his mother was already over seventy years old.
涤亲溺器Washing the Night Pot for the Mother
Huang Ting Jian, a famous poet and calligrapher of the northern Song Dynasty, used to live in Jiang Xi Province. Although he held a very senior position in the government, he was still devoted to serving his mother. Every night, he would personally clean up the night pot for his mother. His duties and respect towards his mother were always foremost in his heart.