In Chinese culture from ancient times up to today, there are records of compassionate mothers. Here are few mothers worth remembering who have been included in Shen Yun’s performances.
General Yue Fei’s mother
Yue Fei was born in the 12th century A.D. at the end of the Northern Song Dynasty. When Yue Fei was an adult, China was invaded by enemies from the north and the country was in urgent need of generals. Yue Fei was faced with the dilemma of whether to enter the battlefield to defend the country and fight the invaders or to stay behind to take care of his elderly mother.
When Yue Fei’s mother saw that her son was torn between loyalty to the country and filial responsibility, she asked Yue Fei to take off his shirt and used embroidery needles to carve out four Chinese characters “Patriotic to the Country” on his back.
With his mother’s blessings etched into his skin as a reminder, Yue Fei left for the battlefield and shouldered the task of defending his country. General Yue became a role model for the Chinese people.
Heroine She Taijun
In the Song Dynasty, there was a heroine by the name of She Taijun. She Taijun was a female general. At a young age, she followed her husband to the battlefield. As time passed, her sons married women who were also generals and well versed in martial arts. She Taijun became the established head of the Yang family, whose courage and dedication in facing difficulties have been passed down from generation to generation.
When the Song Dynasty was subsequently invaded, the Yang family went to the battlefield to defend the country until the bitter end when the grandson of She Taijun, the last male descendant, died on the battlefield. Faced with the approaching enemy forces, She Taijin, who was by then over 100 years old, encouraged the widow of her grandson, Mu Guiying, to take command. Under Mu Guiying’s command, the Yang family’s women defeated the enemies and defended the Song Dynasty.
Away from the battlefields portrayed above, we now enter a world of legends. San Shengmu was originally a goddess from Heaven. One day, she descended to earth and while strolling in a garden, she met a young scholar. They married and had a son. San Shengmu’s brother, Deity Erlang, found that his sister has violated heaven’s rule by marrying a mortal. Flying into a rage, he confined his sister in a mountain as punishment.
San Shengmu waited in agony. Her son, who had grown up, went to the mountain to find his mother. One day, he met a Taoist priest who taught him magical powers and gave him a heavenly ax. After defeating his uncle, Erlang, he took the ax and broke open the mountain where his mother was held. San Shengmu was finally released from her prison by her son.
The story of a contemporary mother
During the Shen Yun performance, the story “Without Regrets” represents today’s mothers in China. A woman’s family suffered illegal persecution and her son died due to brutal torture by the Chinese communist regime. She had to find the courage and strength to live on.
The performance opens on a sunny day in a village in China where the mother and son were happily reading a book together. The book, Zhuan Falun, is about spiritual and moral improvement through the peaceful spiritual discipline of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. However, in today’s China, those who practice Falun Dafa, also known as Falun Gong, suffer severe persecution by the Chinese government. The Chinese police appeared, snatched away the book, and killed the son. The mother was heartbroken while hugging her dead son. Just then, a heavenly world opened up, and mother and son were finally reunited.
Mencius and his mother
Mencius lived in the fourth century B.C. and was one of China’s greatest scholar and thinkers. Today, after 2,000 years, the story of Mencius’s mother moving home three times shows how influential this story is, and illustrates how his mother’s actions helped Mencius to become a renowned scholar.
Shortly after Mencius was born, his father died and the poor mother faced the challenges of raising him alone. In order to find a favorable environment for her son, she moved home three times. The first move was near a cemetery. When she discovered her son performing a funeral ceremony, she moved her home to the marketplace. Soon after, she found her son imitating merchants bargaining so she packed their bags and moved to a place near the school. In this third home, when she noticed her son developing the habit of studying, she finally settled down.
This story has not appeared on the stage of Shen Yun and would be a wonderful addition to the program in the future to showcase this traditional account.
Translated by Chua BC