Famous throughout the world as a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, Confucius laid great emphasis on personal and governmental morality. He believed in the rightness of social relationships, fairness and honesty. With time, his way of thought came to be developed into a system of philosophy, known as Confucianism, which had a deep influence on Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Taiwanese and Vietnamese thought and life. It was Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci who introduced Confucianism to europe and gradually, it spread to the rest of the world as well.
Childhood & early Life
Much of what is known about Confucius' life is legendary. It is hard to separate facts from fiction. Confucius is believed to have been born in 551 BCe, in the city of Qufu, which was located in the Chinese State of Lu (now part of present-day Shandong Province). His original name was K'ung Ch'iu. Confucius was born into a poor, but noble family. His father was a commander of a district in Lu, who left for the holy abode when Confucius was only three years old. Brought up by his mother, Confucius managed to receive a very fine education. He married at the age of 19 and had one son and two daughters. Four years later i.e. at the age of 23, he lost his mother as well.
Confucius had no opportunity to put his theories to a public test until the age of 52. At 52, he was appointed the magistrate of Chung-tu. The next year, he became Minister of crime of the state of Lu. His administration was successful; reforms were introduced, justice was fairly dispensed, and crime almost eliminated. Lu started becoming very powerful under Confucius. As a result, the ruler of a neighboring state maneuvered to sabotage Lu's reforms.
Confucius left his office as well as his state in 496 BC, traveling about and teaching, vainly hoping that some other prince would allow him to undertake measures of reform in his state. Though the great ruler worked in many other states, none of the rulers implemented his reforms, leaving him disheartened. In 482 BC, after a fruitless search for an ideal ruler, Confucius returned to Lu, his home state, for the last time in his life.
Confucius died 3 years after settling in Lu i.e. in 479 BC. After he died, the great scholar was buried in a grave in the city of Ch'uFu, Shandong. Today, the site of his final resting place houses the beautiful K'ung Forest. When Confucius died, people built temples in almost every city of China, to honor him and his work. Since Confucius' teachings and philosophy were so advanced, they were imbibed by Chinese education and are called Confucianism.
Famous Quotes By Confucius
Confucius taught in his school for many years. His theories and principles were spread throughout China by his disciples, and soon many people learned from his wise sayings. Some of Confucius quotes, famous around the world, are: