On the philanthropic behavior between scholars and people in Han Dynasty

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Confucius said that “benevolent people love others” is essentially a concept of charity. The Confucian concept of charity “benevolence” was expounded by Confucius, especially Mencius, and others. By the Han Dynasty, it had been gradually accepted by the world. After Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty accepted Dong Zhongshu’s idea of “deposing hundreds of schools and respecting Confucianism alone”, this idea became more popular.

Scholars in Han Dynasty are the recipients, practitioners and disseminators of Confucian culture. The practical character of primitive Confucianism makes them no inferior in practicing philanthropy. Contemporary scholars pay more attention to the official philanthropy of scholars in the Han Dynasty, and pay less attention to their personal philanthropy in the folk.

In fact, the folk charitable behavior of scholars in the Han Dynasty is very common, which still belongs to the Confucian cultural tradition. Confucius’ Confucianism originated among the people and was deeply influenced by patriarchal culture since the “Three Dynasties”. The patriarchal system has cultivated many charitable acts among the people. Scholars in the Han Dynasty are not far away from ancient times, so they can naturally understand the true spirit of primitive Confucianism.

The folk charities of scholars in the Han Dynasty were mainly aimed at specific groups, first of all, clan charities. Due to the restriction of modern western charity category, clan charity is often covered by people outside the charity category, which is inconsistent with the historical facts of Chinese traditional society. Even the connotation of “clan” is not unchanging. The clans in the pre Qin period were limited to nine clans, “nine Clans” included heterosexual relatives, namely husband clan four, mother clan three and wife clan two. In the Han Dynasty, due to the great changes in social, economic and political structures, as well as the continuous development of township organizations based on geographical relations, the scope and influence of clans continued to expand. The words “Clans”, “nine Clans” and “six relatives” were often used side by side in the two Han books. In addition, the nine clans and clans are also called together with the township and the township party. Therefore, what we call clan charity in the Han Dynasty has spilled over the blood relationship, including the geographical relationship, including the village party. In other words, clan charity since the Han Dynasty has some factors of today’s “community charity”.

There are two main forms of clan charity of scholars in the Han Dynasty. One form is to disperse property and relieve clans. Because the government of the Han Dynasty encouraged filial piety, implemented benevolence and education, and the Confucian culture and clan concept at the bottom, the scholars of the Han Dynasty had a strong sense of clan identity. They take it as their duty to rescue the clan, and will give free aid to the clan with their salary on weekdays. Such cases are recorded in historical books. For example, Wu Han, a Wanren from Nanyang, “after tasting the war, his wife bought the farmland industry after the war, and the Han Dynasty returned it, and let it say, ‘Why buy more farmland and houses when the military division is out, and the officials are insufficient'”, so he divided it with his brother Kun’s foreign family as much as possible “(Book of the later Han Dynasty, Wu Gai, biography of Chen Zang, No. 8). For another example, Xun Yu in the late Eastern Han Dynasty “Lu Ci scattered the clan to know the old, and his family had no surplus wealth.” (Annals of the Three Kingdoms, Wei Shu, Xun you, Jia Xu biography No. 10) as another example, when ban Bo was young, he studied poetry in Shidan and worshipped as the governor of Dingxiang, “I would like to ask the old fathers and ancestors who have old grace, welcome the extension of the hall, use the sun as a sacrifice, and carry out the rites of their children and grandchildren”. When passing by the father’s old home, “because of calling the clan, they each added kindness with intimacy and estrangement, and scattered hundreds of gold.” (Hanshu ยท Xuzhuan No. 70 first).

Another form is to help the poor and adopt orphans. “Rites, funeral clothes” said: “those who are large, respect the unity. Those who are large, those who receive the family, can’t be absolutely.” Only by giving pensions and assistance to the poor clansmen can we strengthen the clan and strengthen the family. Therefore, the rich in the clan give relief to the poor. For example, Wang Mang’s daughter was canonized as the queen, and the gold of the queen was 20000 Jin. Wang Mang resigned very much, and he received only 40 million yuan. Later, the Emperor gave another 23 million yuan, “mang Fu gave tens of millions to the poor of the nine nationalities” (Book of Han Dynasty, biography of Wang Mang, part 69). Some old, weak and orphaned children left behind in the clan, and many wealthy people or official families in the clan also adopted them. For example, Bao Yong has a long character and few integrity. For the harvest of Yangzhou, there were many violent people in Jiangnan at that time, who always killed tyrants and comforted the people. After his mother died, he resigned, “knowing that he had property with his orphaned disciples” (the 19th biography of Bao Yongzhi Yun liezhuan in the book of the later Han Dynasty, Shen Tu Gang). Another example is that in the year of famine, people ate each other, and the fifth Lun adopted his orphaned brother and grandson, “share grain and public food, live and die together, and the village took this as a virtue” (annotation of the East View of Han, Volume 16).

We should also pay attention to the geographical relationship in the clan charity of scholars in the Han Dynasty. For example, according to historical records, Ying Yue “scattered more than thousands of Zi, its ancestors, to distribute them to the nine ethnic states” (Book of Han Dynasty, forty second biography of Wang Gong and Bao Gong). This kind of charity beyond kinship is undoubtedly inspired by the thought of “benevolent love” advocated by Confucius, and its purpose is to realize the philanthropic ideal of “the elderly are at ease, friends believe it, and the young cherish it”.

The folk charity behavior of scholars in Han Dynasty not only includes clan charity, but also includes the relief of other weak people. Since ancient times, China has paid attention to the tradition of rescuing the weak in society, such as “the elderly, widowers, widows, orphans, orphans, and the poor who have no family members and cannot survive by themselves”, as well as the famine caused by natural disasters. In order to adjust social relations, the rulers often recorded the implementation of social welfare in the imperial edict. In addition to government charity, folk charity is also very popular, among which the main body of folk charity is Confucian scholars. For example, Zhou Fang’s father Yang, “less solitary and micro, often cultivate adverse travel, for passers-by, without receiving its reward” (post Han Dynasty, the biography of Confucianism, part 69). Another example is the fifth interview, Zhongmou, when he was the governor of Zhangye, “when he was hungry, there were thousands of millet and stones, and the visit was to open a warehouse for relief to save him. He was all the more scolded and wanted to say something. The interview said: ‘if he had to report, he would abandon the people. The governor was happy to save the people with his whole body!’, so he went out of the valley to give gifts. The Emperor Shun signed a letter of praise, which was the completion of a county” (later Han Dynasty, biography of officials, No. 66). Fifth, when using public goods for disaster relief, the charitable behavior of giving private money to make up for the lack of public goods reflects the thinking logic of Confucian culture from home to country.

The folk charity of scholars in the Han Dynasty also included the relief of poor students. For example, when Zhao Dian was too common, “every reward, he often shared it with the poor” (the 17th biography of Zhao liezhuan, the second king of Xuanzhang, Du Guo, Wu Cheng, Zheng in the later Han Dynasty). This kind of charitable behavior of scholars stems more from the fact that they were once students.

The Han government strongly supported the scholars’ Folk charitable acts and commended those who performed well. Taking this as an example, it educated the village and formed a climate of helping the needy in the whole society. In the Han Dynasty, three elders were set up among officials at the township level. His duty is “to educate, and all those who are filial to their sons and grandchildren, chaste women and righteous women, let wealth be at stake, and bachelor’s degree is civil law style, all flat show their doors”.

In addition to the government’s advocacy, the prevalence of charitable behavior among the people in the Han Dynasty has a lot to do with the revival of Confucianism in the Han Dynasty. Confucian culture not only requires scholars to be independent, but also to be kind to the world and highlight social values. On the one hand, they influence social groups through their own moral cultivation, on the other hand, they use their political power and cultural resources to educate the world and correct the world style.

The philanthropic behavior among the people in the Han Dynasty had a far-reaching impact, which not only affected the various policies of benefiting the people implemented by the rulers of previous dynasties, but also set an example for the development of folk philanthropy in China. It was under their influence that the rulers and Confucian scholars of the Han, Tang, song, Ming and Qing Dynasties practiced benevolent policies, set up or supported various charities, and Chinese charities continued to thrive.

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