CONFUCIANISM AND SOCIAL ECONOMIC PROBLEMS By HU SHIH
WHEN I listened to Mr. Natarajan this afternoon I was very much interested in his assertion that all early reforms in India had to originate in asking the pundits to find authorities for them in the sacred scriptures. If that is a necessary condition for social and economic and political reforms Confucianism certainly affords an abundance of scriptural authority for all kinds of far-reaching reform movements in the economic, social, and political spheres.
Confucianism, as you all know, is not strictly a religion in the Western Christian sense. Confucianism has always been a system of teaching--social, moral, and political teaching. Its founder, Confucius, who lived in the middle of the sixth century B.C. and died in the first quarter of the fifth century, never considered himself a founder of a religion. He was always an educator, a reformer. He spent his whole life in educating people. He had a famous saying, "Education recognizes no classes. Through education all class distinctions are abolished."
He was one of those reformers who helped to break down spiritually and intellectually the feudal system that was tottering at the time. He was a reformer of such repute that while he passed through one of the gates of a city the gate-keeper inquired of his disciples, "Who is that man?" And the disciple answered, "Confucius of the state of Lu," and the gate-keeper said, "Oh, he? He who knows it to be impossible yet cannot forbear to stir?" That was the spirit of the man.