Friday, November 19, 2010

Stories of Filial Children -- Series Four

(1) Shaokang (Xia Dynasty)

Shaokang was the sixth monarch of the legendary Xia Dynasty (c. 2070-c. 1600 B.C.) and lived from from 2118 until 2058 B.C.

It was when his mother was pregnant with Shaokang that the emperor, Shaokang's father, was assassinated. Shaokang was thus born in exile in what is now Jining County, Shandong Province. Growing up, he was greatly influenced by his mother, the ex-empress, who instilled in him the need to restore the great Xia dynasty. In time, because the traitor Han Zhuo was on his trail, he had to flee even farther to the area of what is now known as Yongji County, Shandong. There, he was taken in by a friendly tribal king who offered to Shaokang his second daughter's hand in marriage. In addition, the king bestowed upon Shaokang a small fiefdom and a personal army of five hundred men, a pittance compared to what his father the emperor had had but still a beginning!

He was not a young man who mourned the past; instead, he took the resources he was given by his father-in-law and turned his own small fiefdom into a prosperous mini-state, one which did nothing but increase the prestige of the toppled Xia and developed within the people a deep sympathy for that fallen house's cause.

In time, Shaokang was to have his revenge.

In 2078 B.C., the usurping Han Zhuo regime fell prey to an insurrection. Shaokang contacted his father's loyal minister Count Mi and other leaders of the anti-Han movement. Shaokang amassed an army which in a crucial battle defeated the Han force but not before the traitor Han Zhuo was slain.

And thus did Shaokang, acting out of the greatest filial devotion to his parents, avenge his murdered father and restore the mighty Xia!


from Sanshiliuxiao, p. 14. (For full citation, see 4/17/09 for full citation.)

This is story #2 in the Wu Yanhuan edition.

(2) Gu Yanwu (Ming & Qing Dynasties)

At the tail end of the Ming Dynasty and the beginning of the Qing, there lived a man in Kunshan County, Jiangsu, named Gu Yanwu (1613-1682 A.D.), the second oldest of five boys. At the age of two, he was adopted by the widow of his father's younger brother. He remained devoted and filial to his adopted mother all her life.

When the Ming fell to the Qing (1644), his adopted mother took her life. In her final testament, she wrote, "Though I am a woman, I am still a recipient of the nation's grace and prefer to die with my nation, the Ming, than live without it. I will not live as a subject of foreign rulers and thus betray the Ming. Thus, I prefer to sink into the darkness of the underworld."

This message left a deep impact on Yanwu, one which he was to remember to the end of his days.

After the establishment of the Manchu Qing dynasty, he became a great scholar respected by many, both Ming loyalists and many among the Qing authorities. On more than one occasion, Qing agents approached him with blandishments and veiled threats in attempts to enlist him in the Qing cause. Each time with great bravery and ignoring the risks, he rebuffed these servants of the Qing.

That is how he lived up until his death--mindful of his adopted mother's dying words, filial and patriotic to the end.


from Sanshiliuxiao, p. 76 (See 4/17/09 for full citation.)

This is story #33 in the Wu Yanhuan edition.

(3) Ding Chunliang (Qing Dynasty)

Ding Chunliang (1813-1873) was born in Jinjiang, Fujian Province. When he was thirteen, he followed his father over to Taiwan, where in Lugang, his father set up a grocery store. There, he worked for his father diligently.

Not long after, however, his father had a stroke. He became blind and unable to move half of his body. Walking without assistance became impossible. Chunliang took over the management of the store and then, at night, he would help his father out of bed and outside to sit with him whenever there were evening opera performances.

The years passed but the elder Ding's condition did not improve. His appetite decreased; furthermore, Chunliang needed to continue helping him dispose of bodily wastes. He did so without complaint, even when his father often soiled his bed and blankets.

It came to the point where Chunliang spent each available moment by his father's bedside, sleeping on the floor, and always alert to the slightest sound or request his father might make. When such a sound or request was made, Chunliang would immediately get up and meet his father's every need.

This went on for more than ten years. Not once did Chunliang demonstrate any anger, annoyance or impatience.

When a fire in the vegetable garden threatened the house, Chunliang picked up his father and headed for the front door. The fire had already spread, with flames and smoke on both sides of Chunliang and his father. Chunliang stood in the doorway, holding his father in his arms, protecting his father from the fire. Fortunately, the fire was put out in time before either was killed.

When Chunliang was thirty one, his father passed away. Chunliang then observed the proper rites for his father.

Chunliang's long devotion to his father was not lost upon the local city fathers. A memorial stele detailing his acts of filial piety was erected. After Chunliang's own death, his named was inscribed in the shrine dedicated to filial youths.


from Sanshiliuxiao, p. 82 (See 4/17/09 for full citation.)

This is story #36 in the Wu Yanhuan edition.