World Scripture


In a family, parents are responsible for the welfare of the children and offer the children an embracing, unconditional love that overlooks and compensates for their weaknesses. Through their example, they teach their children the basic values and attitudes which they will carry throughout life. The children, in turn, respect their parents as the source of their very being, as their teachers, and as the ones who have labored and sacrificed for their sakes. When they are grown, they should be responsible to care for their parents in their old age. These relative responsibilities should not be undertaken as a matter of duty, but rather emerge from the spontaneous promptings of parental love and the children's gratitude and respect. This is the vertical axis defining relations of love and respect between people of unequal status and different responsibilities.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.

1. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 22.6

He who spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

2. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Proverbs 13.24

You can only coil a fish when it is fresh.

3. African Traditional Religions. Nupe Proverb (Nigeria)

And remember when Luqman said to his son by way of instruction, "O my dear son! Establish worship and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity,
and persevere, whatever may befall you. Lo! that is the steadfast heart of things."

4. Islam. Qur'an 31.17

Nupe Proverb: In other words, you must train a child from infancy when his character is pliable; as an adult his character is already set.

As the child, according to its natural disposition, commits thousands of faults,
The father instructs and slights, but again hugs him to his bosom.

5. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sorath, M.5

Attend strictly to the commands of your parents and the instructions of your teachers. Serve your leader with diligence; be upright of heart; eschew falsehood; and be diligent in study; that you may conform to the wishes of the heavenly spirit.

6. Shinto. Oracle of Temmangu

Children are the clothes of a man.

7. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Proverb (Nigeria)

He established a testimony in Jacob,
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children;
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God,
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments.

8. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Psalm 78.5-7

Do not despise the breath of your fathers,
But draw it into your body.
That our roads may reach to where the life-giving road of our sun father comes out,
That, clasping one another tight,
Holding one another fast,
We may finish our roads together;
That this may be, I add to your breath now.
To this end:
May my father bless you with life;
May your road reach to Dawn Lake,
May your road be fulfilled.

9. Native American Religions. Zuni Prayer

Oracle of Temmangu: Temmangu is a shrine in Osaka. Its patron deity, Tenjin, who was in life the scholar Michizane Sugawara (845-903), is venerated as a god of education and literature. Schoolchildren will buy amulets of Tenjin for luck at the time of school entrance examinations. Yoruba Proverb: This means that a man is assessed by the character of his children. Psalm 78.5-7: Cf. Yebamot 62, p. 258. Zuni Prayer: This prayer is spoken at the close of the novice's initiation. Doctrine of the Mean 20.8: These are the Confucian Five Relations. They are further explicated in the following passage. Book of Ritual 7.2.19: Cf. I Ching 37, p. 260. Tattvarthasutra 6.18.24: Cf. Acarangasutra 1.35-37, p. 739; Tattvarthasutra 9.6, p. 169.

Brethren, a new child is born.
While in the uterus it was a woman's thing;
Safely delivered, it is everybody's child, a native of Nibo, a Nigerian.

He shall grow under the care of his parents;
When mature he will look after his parents.
He shall listen to the good advice of his parents,
He ought not to obey wrong things.

We want truly good children, not any thing at all:
He will grow up industrious, imitating father, mother, and other relations.

No evil child!
Instead of a thief, may it pass away through miscarriage.
The name of the baby is "Chinenye."

10. African Traditional Religions. Igbo Naming Ceremony (Nigeria)

There was always, too, a Pipe child--a girl, unless the keeper had no daughters....

"When I was the Pipe child, whenever my mother took the Pipe bundle outside of the lodge, I took the tripod out after her. I was told how to set the tripod when the camp was about to move, with two of the legs close together and the third far out. Whenever my father made smudge with pine needles, he would give me some and I would chew them and would hold my hands over the smudge. Then I would rub my left palm up to my right arm, my right palm up to my left arm, and then both palms from the top of my head down the sides of my neck and down my breast...

Whenever while I was the Pipe child I got sick my father would put pine needles on me, and then he would take down the bundle and put it on my parents' bed, and would say to me, "Put your arms around your brother [the Pipe] and pray to your brother so you may get well." [My father] the Pipe- keeper and his wife claim the Feathered Pipe as their son and tell their children that the Pipe is their brother.... Of course the Pipe was not human, but because I was a baby when my father got it I grew up with it and thought just as much of it as of my own blood relatives.

When my father transferred the Pipe to Sitting High I was outside playing. When I was coming home I saw the bundle at Sitting High's door, and when I saw it I started to cry, and when I saw my father I said to him, "Why did you give my Pipe away?" It was just like a person leaving. I was lonesome for it, and felt just as if I had lost a relative or friend. All through my life I have felt the same toward it. All through my life I have made it a point to be present at any Feathered Pipe ceremony. And whenever I went to any ceremony, I would bring something for it....

My father used to tell me, "This Pipe was given by the Supreme Being through Bha'a; the Supreme Being is the father of the Pipe."

11. Native American Religions. Gros Ventres Tradition of the Pipe Child (Montana)

Igbo Naming Ceremony: This prayer was uttered by an elder from the village of Nibo at the naming of his grandson, Chinenye. Notice the phrase 'it is everybody's child', which indicates that raising children is a community responsibility. Gros Ventres Tradition of the Pipe Child: This testimony is an example of how, in traditional societies, religious education of the young is integral to daily life.

This I ask Thee. Tell me truly, Lord.
Who fashioned esteemed piety in addition to rule?
Who made a son respectful in his attentiveness to his father?

12. Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 44.7

The gentleman works upon the trunk. When that is firmly set up, the Way grows. And surely proper behavior towards parents and elder brothers is the trunk of Goodness?

13. Confucianism. Analects 1.2

In the Kingdom of Heaven, true love is fulfilled centered on parental love.... The family is the original base [of true love] and the foundation of eternity.

14. Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon, 9-30-69

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

15. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Exodus 20.12

There are three partners in man, God, father, and mother. When a man honors his father and mother, God says, "I regard it as though I had dwelt among them and they had honored me."

16. Judaism. Talmud, Kiddushin 30b

"Do not neglect the [sacrificial] works due to the gods and the fathers!
Let your mother be to you like unto a god! Let your father be to you
like unto a god! Let your teacher be to you like unto a god!"

17. Hinduism. Taittiriyaka Upanishad 1.11.2

Those who wish to be born in [the Pure Land] of Buddha... should act filially towards their parents and support them, and should serve and respect their teachers and elders.

18. Buddhism. Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 27

Thy Lord has decreed... that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, "My Lord! bestow on them Thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood."

19 Islam. Qur'an 17.23

One companion asked, "O Apostle of God! Who is the person worthiest of my consideration?" He replied, "Your mother." He asked again, "And second to my mother?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The companion insisted, "And then?" The Messenger of God said, "After your mother, your father."

20. Islam. Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim

Analects 1.2: Cf. Book of History 5.9, p. 466.

Now filial piety is the root of all virtue, and the stem out of which grows all moral teaching... Our bodies--to every hair and bit of skin--are received by us from our parents, and we must not presume to injure or wound them: this is the beginning of filial piety. When we have established our character by the practice of the filial course, so as to make our name famous in future ages, and thereby glorify our parents: this is the end of filial piety. It commences with the service of parents; it proceeds to the service of the ruler; it is completed by the establishment of [good] character.

21. Confucianism. Classic on Filial Piety 1

Son, why do you quarrel with your father,
Due to him you have grown to this age?
It is a sin to argue with him.

22. Sikhism. Adi Granth, Sarang, M.4, p. 1200

Rama, "How can I transgress this command of my mother and my father? It is for thee to occupy the throne in Ayodhya, the throne that all revere, and for me to live in the Dandaka Forest, wearing robes of bark! Having spoken thus, the great King Dasaratha made this division of duties in the presence of the people and then ascended to heaven. The word of that virtuous monarch is our law! It is for thee to enjoy the kingdom given thee by our sire, and, taking refuge in the Dandaka Forest for fourteen years, I shall carry out the part assigned to me by my magnanimous sire. That which my high-souled father... has directed me to do, I regard as my supreme felicity, not the dominion of all the worlds."

23. Hinduism. Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda 101

We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the child to his weaning is thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to You and truly do I bow to You in Islam."

Such are they from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and pass by their ill deeds: they shall be among the Companions of the Garden: a promise of truth, which was made to them. Paradise, holding the true promise which has been given them.

24. Islam. Qur'an 46.15-16

Ramayana: At the insistence of Rama's stepmother, his father the king decreed that upon his death, Rama the heir apparent would be exiled to wander in the forest for fourteen years while his stepbrother Bharata was to rule as king. Though Bharata himself, along with all the populace, implored Rama to take his rightful place as king, Rama refused out of filial loyalty to his departed father. Cf. Ramayana, Ayodhya Kanda 109, pp. 708f.

Brethren, one can never repay two persons, I declare. What two? Mother and father.

Even if one should carry about his mother on one shoulder and his father on the other, and so doing should live a hundred years; and if he should support them, anointing them with unguents, kneading and rubbing their limbs, and they meanwhile should even void their excrements upon him--even so could he not repay his parents. Moreover, if he should establish his parents in supreme authority, in the absolute rule over this mighty earth abounding in the seven treasures--not even thus could he repay his parents. Why not? Brethren, parents do much for their children; they bring them up, they nourish them, they introduce them to this world. However, brethren, whoso incites his unbelieving parents, settles and establishes them in the faith; whoso incites his immoral parents, settles and establishes them in morality; whoso incites his stingy parents, settles and establishes them in liberality; whoso incites his foolish parents, settles and establishes them in wisdom--such a one, just by so doing, does repay, does more than repay what is due to his parents.

25. Buddhism. Anguttara Nikaya i.61

My father, thank you for petting me;
My mother, thank you for making me comfortable;
Thank you for robing me with wisdom, which is more important than robing me with clothes.
Slaves will minister unto you;
Servants will be your helpers.
Children which I shall bear will minister unto you.

26. African Traditional Religions. Yoruba Nuptial Chant (Nigeria)

If your parents take care of you up to the time you cut your teeth, you take care of them when they lose theirs.

27. African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)

You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.

28. Judaism and Christianity. Bible, Leviticus 19.32

My father sent for me; I saw he was dying. I buried him in that beautiful valley of winding waters. I love that land more than all the rest of the world. A man who would not love his father's grave is worse than a wild animal.

29. Native American Religions. Nez Perce Tradition

Nez Perce Tradition: Veneration of parents' graves and the spirits of ancestors is an important expression of a son's or daughter's abiding love for their parents. Cf. Winnebago Invocation at the Sweat Lodge, p. 373; Igbo Invocation at a Trial, p. 372; Khuddaka Patha, p. 374; Nihon Shoki III, p. 371; One Hundred Poems about the World, pp. 780f.