By Manpreet

Confucius was one of the greatest moral teachers of all times. He was born in China in the province of Shantung about 551 BC...

Confucius was one of the greatest moral teachers of all times. He was born in China in the province of Shantung about 551 BC. He studied ancient Chinese writings with great devotion. These works taught him many new ideas about character development.

An emperor ruled China, during those days. However, the emperor was a mere figurehead with very little powers. Corrupt and greedy feudal lords controlled the provinces. The people were poor and neglected.

Confucius felt disgusted at this state of affairs. Whatever he had learned from the ancient Chinese writings, he started preaching. Soon he gathered massive following. His teachings are still held up as ideals. He greatly influenced the Chinese civilization and became one of the most honored thinkers of the Far East.

In Chinese his name was "Kung-Fu-tzu". This name was distorted by the Catholic missionaries and became 'Confucius'. Although little is known about his ancestry and early life, he is said to have come from impoverished nobility. He was orphaned at an early age and grew up in poverty. He was largely self-educated, but apparently became the most learned man of his day.

At the age of 22, three years after his marriage Confucius had started teaching how to lead a happy life. He said, "Don't do to others what you could not wish them to do to you." He used to teach "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." He was a modest man who always said "I teach nothing new. I only hand on the ancient wisdom."

He did not just preach but also acted on his teachings. For some time, he also held some important positions in the local government of his province. When he was made the governor of a city, he cleared the state of robbers, reduced taxes, improved people's living conditions and persuaded the ruling classes to lead charitable lives.

According to one account, he was also made a minister. He tried his best to remove the evils ingrained in all branches of social life. However, soon he realized that they were deep-rooted. The courtiers and government officials were highly corrupt. Therefore, he resigned in disgust at the age of 54.

For the next 13 years, he traveled all over China in an attempt to spread his moral philosophy. However, everywhere he was received coldly. Frustrated by his failure he died a broken-hearted man in 479 BC.

Although Confucius did not succeed in his aims during his lifetime, yet within five hundred years after his death, his teachings had become the philosophy of the state. The Chinese came to offer sacrifices to him in temples. Confucianism has become a religion in China. Even today, it influences millions of lives.