Confucius (551-479 BC) was a Chinese teacher, thinker and political figure of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. It is said that he was born in the royal state of Song. Nowadays, people generally associate Qufu as his birthplace as his great grandfather moved to Lu, located near the present site of Qufu. His father Kong He died when he was three years old, so Confucius was raised by his mother. His family lost their wealth and the young Confucius had to take jobs as a shepherd, cowherd, clerk, or a book-keeper. His mother died when he was 23 and he mourned constantly for three years.
Evidence tells us that Confucius studied rituals with the Daoist Master Lao Dan, music with Chang Hong and the lute with the master of music Xiang. Confucius wass a richly-experienced and talented man. He had gathered about 3,000 followers by the time he was middle aged. At the age of 50, his political career begun. He was appointed Minster of Public Works and later Justice Minster. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave office and go into exile due to disputes with other powerful members of the state.
Followed by his disciples, he left the state of Lu and travelled to many states in the hope that a ruler would adopt his advice about how to improve the management of state affairs. However, his travel didn't go as smoothly as he had originally planned. Though with great statesmanship and penetrating judgements, Confucius received less political respect than he should have earned. Many of his disciples died of poverty during his travels and the rough and bumpy political career he was enduring enforced Confucius to devote most of his energy to education. He went back to Lu when he was older and focused on teaching and editing the Book of Songs, Book of Documents and Spring and Autumn Annals, the first historical annals in China.
Confucius had broken the education monopoly and created private schools. His disciples included the famed 72 sages with Yan Hui believed to be one of his favourite students. Most Confucian sayings and wisdoms can be found in his Analects. Courtesy, filial piety, loyalty, benevolence and gentlemanly behaviour are the basic Confucian concepts. His educational ideas were ahead of his time; proverbs like "Reviewing what you have learned and learning anew, you will suit being a teacher" & "To study and not think is a waste, to think and not study is perilous" are still frequently used today.
Rocked by the death of his son and beloved disciples, he died in 479 BC. His former residence was rebuilt and is now known as "Confucius Temple" and attracts visitors and worshippers alike.