China, like India, is a very vast country with a long history. There is an ancient Chinese legend that the mighty Panku made the earth long, long ago. He stood in the middle of a mixture of land, water and sky. He worked with his tools and made the heavers and earth. The earth was square and surrounded by water and of course, the Chinese thought that their land was the center of the whole world. This is only a legend. What is a fact is that the Chinese civilization goes far back into the past.
The Chinese civilization began in the fertile river valley of the Hwang-Ho and then spread to the valley of the Yangtze.
Year after year, the Hwang -Ho overflowed its banks, swamped the fields and destroyed the dykes and canals. No wonder the people called the river `China’s Sorrow’. But they were patient and strong and worked hard to rebuild what had been destroyed. Even today this is what the Chinese are doing.
Ancient China was ruled by an emperor. He was sent by god and was known as the son of heaven. He was very powerful but he took the help of a council of noblemen. The important posts in the world in the land were given to very clever men who passed a civil service examination. These Mandarins, as they were called, were very carefully chosen. Only after a stiff training were they placed in high posts.
The ancient Chinese worshipped nature, they believed in a number of gods. But one God, whom they called `Heaven’ or `The Ruler Above’, was given more respect than the others. He was wise and kind and made laws which the whole world obeyed. Even man made to obey his rules.
The Chinese worshipped their ancestors. They believed that the body has two spirits. At the time of death, one spirit leaves the body immediately. But it continues to look after the family welfare. The other spirit remains in the body for some time and has to be given food and drink. The spirit of the dead was always remembered with great love and honored by the family.
Most people like o know what the future holds for them. That is why they get their palms read and their horoscopes cast.
The Chinese did not get their horoscope written out, but they had another way of looking into the future. They went to a priest who was supposed to be in touch with the gods. He put the question to an oracle. The oracle was a tortoise shell or bone of cattle with holes in it. When fore was held near it, the oracle crackled. From the sound of the crackling, the priest guessed the answer. Do you think the answer were usually right or wrong?