Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Shun – The 5th of the 5 Legendary Rulers Who Ushered in the Age of Chinese Civilization

Compiled from The Great Chinese Emperors

        Yu Shun’s name was Yao Chonghua. He lost his mother when he was very young. His step-mother and father ill-treated him, but he remained filial to them. At the foothills of Mount Li, Shun developed a piece of wasteland and tamed and elephant to help him plough the fields. The people at Mount Li were touched by Shun’s great virtue. They stopped fighting among themselves, and Mount Li attracted more and more settlers. In this way, Shun attained his fame when he was only 20, and at 30, he was summoned to King Yao’s service.
        The people took Shun as their model and willingly accepted his teachings. Three years later, King Yao offered him the throne, but he declined. He represented Yao when he travelled, and inspected every part of the land. Shun drafted the five rules of etiquette, and other rules and regulations which the dukes and princes had to observe. He also divided the country into 12 states, with each having its administrator. Criminal laws were also carved on utensils and vessels to deter the people from committing offences.
        During his inspection tours, he identified ‘trouble makers’- Gun, Gonggong and Huandou who were dishonest, and the Sammiao tribe who disturbed the regions of River Huai and the Yangtze River. They deserved death, but were spared instead. Shun assigned them to trouble spots in the country to manage the people there, including the northern barbarians in Youling, the southern tribes at Mount Chong, and the eastern tribes at Mount Yu. The Sanmiao people were dispatched to take care of the western barbarians at Sanwei.

        During the 20 years of his regency, he declined to ascend the throne thrice. Only at the age of 61 did he finally agree to take over Yao’s place. He continued to implement changes at the administrative level, and set up the departments of rites, music, farming, mulberry planting, works, water and land. Shun finally abdicated in favour of Yu, who did a great job of controlling the floodwaters. He died in the countryside of Changwu and was buried in Mt Jiuyi. His tomb was known as the Tomb of Ling.  

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