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China Perspectives
The Twenty-four Paragons of Filtal Piety 2

Number Two
He Personally Tested His Mother"s Prescriptions: The Learned Emperor Of Han

During the Western Han Dynasty in China, after its founding patriarch Liu Bang died, the throne came by succession to his son, "Liu the Constant". He earned the name Han Wendi, "The Learned Emperor of Han". As a ruler, he practiced vigorous, just government, and he loved the citizens, moving and inspiring them to self improvement through education. State business was extremely complex and demanding of time, nonetheless he still found time to serve his mother with respectful, filial devotion. He was neither careless nor tardy in his treatment of his mother.

Once the matron suffered a serious illness and Han Wendi, as soon as he had completed the various governmental matters , would immediately leave the state chambers and return to his mother"s bedside to nurse her with tender concern. She was sick for a full three years, and his care was constant and untiring. He waited on her by night and day throughout her convalescence, without relaxing his vigilance in the least. He never grumbled or resented the toil and tedium.

The Emperor"s care of his mother was thorough to the last detail. He would wait by her bedside without closing his eyes, often forgetting to change his robes for long Periodst afraid that he might be remiss in his nursing care. As soon as the servants had prepared any dose of medicine, the Emperor would first sample the mixture himself, to make sure it was neither too hot nor too weak. As soon as it was fit to drink, he would spoon-feed the mixture himself to his mother.

Many years passed, and the Learned Emperor nursed his mother throughout. He earned the praises of all the citizens. An outstanding leader, he was also a most unusual, filially-devoted son, and set the standards of behavior towards parents. The people of China respected him, and accepted his teaching. They were deeply influenced and transformed by his model of virtue. The people in their turn, practiced filial respect towards their parents, and treated them well. The Learned Emperor"s name, Han Wendi, has passed down through a thousand ages to the present--people still admire his model of virtuous, selfless conduct.

A verse in his honor says,

Both filial and humane, he was known throughout the land.
Awesome as a leader, he ruled the Hundred Kings.
For three long years he nursed his ailing mother, the Empress,
Duty-bound, he tasted every medicine she took

 
   
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