Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety: The Feeling of Filial Piety Moved Heaven

PureInsight | March 28, 2005

[] Stories about exemplary filial conduct abound in Chinese history. The Twenty-Four Examples of Filial Piety were chosen and compiled by Guo Jujing from the Fujian Province during the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 CE) while he was mourning the death of his father. He recounted the feats of filial children --nearly all male-- towards their parents --mostly aged mothers-- from the age of the primordial Emperor Shun down to his own era. Even today, these stories form an important part of orthodox Chinese virtue.

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The Feeling of Filial Piety Moved Heaven
Emperor Shun of the Yu Dynasty (or Yu Shun) was formerly known as Yao Chonghua before he ascended the throne. He was the son of Gushou (means Blind Old Man). His nature was most filial. But his father was obstinate and his mother was boorish. His younger brother Xiang was arrogant and overbearing. Despite that, Shun was devoted to his parents. In order to support his family, Shun ploughed on Mount Li in Shandong province on his own without any problem. His filial piety was so great that even animals were moved by him. Elephants came out to plough for him and the birds weeded for him. Emperor Yao of Tang heard of this; he sent nine of his sons to wait on him and two of his daughters to be his wives and later abdicated the throne in his favor. Verses praise him saying:

Herds of elephants plough in the spring;
Flocks of birds pull the weeds;
He is the heir of Yao and mounts his throne;
The spirit of filial piety moves the heart of Heaven.

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