Confucius was born by ‘illicit union’. When he was three years old, his father Kong He died, and he was raised by his mother Yen zhengzai.
When he was twenty-four, his mother died. According to the ancient rules of propriety, he wanted to bury his mother in the same grave with his father, but the problem is, he did not know his father’s grave, it might be because his mother never told him where his father’s grave was. So Confucius had his mother’s body coffined in the street of Wû-fû. He stayed beside the coffin in mourning dress, with his lame brother Meng Pi. Those who saw it all thought that it was to be interred there, so carefully was everything done, but it was only the coffining. By inquiring of the mother of Man-fû of Zâu, he succeeded in learning his father’s grave was at Fang.
When Confucius had succeeded in burying his mother in the same grave with his father at Fang, he said, ‘I have heard that the ancients made graves only, and raised no mound over them. But I am a man, who will be travelling east, west, south, and north. I cannot do without something by which I can remember the place.’ On this, he resolved to raise a mound over the grave four feet high. He then first returned, leaving the disciples behind. A great rain came on; and when they rejoined him, he asked them what had made them so late. ‘The earth slipped,’ they said, ‘from the grave at Fang.’ They told him this thrice without his giving them any answer. He then wept freely, and said, ‘I have heard that the ancients did not need to repair their graves.’