Filial Piety: the Most Important Virtue in Chinese Culture

This is the times of Valentine’s Day and multi-ethnic culture. So the idea of Filial Piety and other virtues may seem rather absurd to the Gen X people. But according to Chinese tradition Filial Piety is the most important virtue to be cherished through out the span of one’s parents’ lifetime.

According to the Chinese tradition being a filial son is the uppermost duty of any Chinese son. Being a filial son means complete obedience to your parents, taking all possible cares of them, meeting their demands at any cost and not harming their feelings at any point of time. However it has been debated that in the times of Valentine’s Day culture how far can a son agree to all characteristics of filial piety.

Filial Piety had its origin in Confucius. Xiao was a very important doctrine with Confucius. It means blind loyalty to one’s own parents. But ren and yi were even more important norms with Confucius. Xiao is merely the show of ren and yi, which formulate the interrelationship of the parents and the children. The most important text on Filial Piety is “Xiao Jing” or the “Book of Filial Piety”.

According to Chinese tradition Filial Piety has its other features too. After the death of the parents the eldest child is required to perform all the rituals. One basic thing about filial piety is that the child has to ensure that the family line is continued. If the marriage turns out to a barren one the son can take another wife or adopt a child.

Like the Valentine’s Day stories, the stories about Filial Piety abound in Chinese tradition and culture. The most fascinating story collection of this sort is The Twenty Four Examples of Filial Piety compiled and edited by Kuo Chu-ching in Yuan Dynasty.


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