Followers of Confucius: Min Ziqian

Min Ziqian (閔子騫), also known by the formal name of Min Sun (閔損), was another of Confucius’s compatriots from the state of Lu and widely renowned as a model of filial devotion.

After the untimely death of his own mother, he suffered terrible abuse from his father’s second wife, almost dying of cold on one occasion after she had lined his clothes with reed catkins instead of the warm cotton she used for the garments of her own two sons.

When Ziqian nearly caused an accident while driving an oxcart because his hands were frozen stiff from the cold, his father tore his son’s jacket open while whipping him for his carelessness and sent the catkins flying out of it. He was so angry at his wife’s ill-treatment of his son that he threatened to throw her out of the house. But Min Ziqian interceded on her behalf, telling him that if he did that three of his sons would suffer while if she stayed on only one would go cold. Not surprisingly perhaps, Ziqian’s stepmother and stepbrothers were so touched by his kindness that they never treated him badly afterwards.

No doubt influenced by Confucius, Min Ziqian became a philosopher himself, espousing a conservative creed focused on restoring old traditions rather than implementing new reforms. Like Confucius, he was highly critical of Ji Kangzi (季康子), the regent of the state of Lu, and yearned for a return to the no-doubt mythical golden age under the Duke of Zhou.

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Analects of Confucius Book 9: Confucius and Min Ziqian

Appearances in the Analects of Confucius

Book 6, Chapter 9
Book 11, Chapter 3
Book 11, Chapter 5
Book 11, Chapter 13
Book 11, Chapter 14

Book 6
Chapter 9
季氏使閔子騫為費宰。閔子騫曰:「善為我辭焉!如有復我者,則吾必在汶上矣。」
When the head of the Ji Family sent an invitation to Min Ziqian to become governor of the town of Bi, he replied to the messenger: “Please convey my regrets. If anyone comes with a second invitation, I will be obliged to go and live on the other side of the River Wen.”

Book 11
Chapter 3
德行:顏淵、閔子騫、冉伯牛、仲弓;言語:宰我、子貢;政事:冉有、季路;文學:子游、子夏。
Virtue: Yan Hui, Min Ziqian, Ran Geng, Ran Yong. Eloquence: Zai Yu, Zigong. Administration: Ran Qiu, Zilu. Letters: Ziyou, Zixia.

Chapter 5
子曰:「孝哉閔子騫,人不間於其父母昆弟之言。」
Confucius said: “Min Ziqian is a model of filial devotion! Nobody doubts the praise given to him by his parents and brothers.”

Chapter 13
閔子侍側,誾誾如也;子路,行行如也;冉有、子貢,侃侃如也。子樂。若由也,不得其死然。
When at Confucius’s side, Min Ziqian was straightforward but respectful; Zilu was bold and intense; Ran Qiu and Zigong were frank but amiable. Confucius was happy but said: “A man like Zilu won’t die a natural death.”

Chapter 14
魯人為長府。閔子騫曰:「仍舊貫,如之何?何必改作!」子曰:「夫人不言,言必有中。」
The leadership of Lu was planning to demolish the Long Treasury and rebuild it. Min Ziqian said: “Why not just repair the old structure? Why build a new one?” Confucius said: “This man rarely speaks, but when he does he hits the mark.” 

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