After Emperor Shun, Yu became the next Emperor (B.C. 2205). Yu was one of descendants of the Yellow Emperor. Being known for his kindness and talent, Yu was recommended by many ministers as the most capable person to find ways to control flooding. He was then appointed by Emperor Shun to take the responsibility of flood-control.
Yu’s father Gun had spent nine years building dikes and dams to prevent flooding in Yao’s reign, but his work was in vain.
Yu’s approach was different from his father’s. Noticing and taking advantage of the downward flowing nature of water, he dredged canals according to the physical functions of the terrain to lead the nine great rivers to the sea. After 13 years of hard work, the floods subsided.
Yu devoted himself to flood control as he knew controlling flooding would save people’s lives. His devotion was such that three times he passed his own house and did not go home. The first time, he had just started the work on flood control and he did not visit his wife although they were newly married. The second time, he was busy with flood control and did not visit his family although his son was newly born. The third time, he was so busy leading water to the sea that he did not stop, but just waved back to his wife and his son.
After successfully developing flood control, Yu taught people how to plant a variety of crops in the fertile land. After that, people’s lives became happy and peaceful.
Due to Yu’s great contributions and compassion for people, he was absolutely loved. Yu was so humble, benevolent, and reliable, and Emperor Shun counted on him so much, that in 2205 B.C. Emperor Shun handed the throne to Yu instead of to his son.
Yu has been remembered by the Chinese people as Great Yu.
Hereditary Sovereignty Begins
The Yellow Emperor, Yao, and Shun were respected and supported by each tribe to become emperors because of their virtuous character. They ruled the ancient Chinese society by moral principles and loose management. They elected respective successors based on ability and virtuous character. They also solicited the people’s opinion to make a final decision as to whom to pass the throne on to.
Yu was the great-great-grandson of the Yellow Emperor. His great-grandfather and father were not emperors but instead ministers to the emperor. Yu handed the throne to a sage, but after three years of mourning Yu’s death, the sage gave the throne back to Yu’s son. Since then the hereditary system was established and the throne was handed to son or brother.
Subsequent dynasties continued this hereditary system. Yu’s son established China’s first dynasty-Xia. The establishment of the Xia Dynasty marked the end of a primitive and loosely tribal society in China.
The birth of the Xia Dynasty was an important milestone in the history of Chinese civilization. It lasted 400 years and had a total of 17 generations (B.C. 2205 – B.C. 1766).
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