Mandate of Heaven refers to the political concept in China. This concept was used to deny or accept the authority of the ruling dynasty. Mandate of heaven was said to be with the ruler who was just, fair and wise. The ruler who was corrupt, cruel and oppressive did not possess the mandate of heaven. The word heaven here refers to the cosmic all-pervading power which forms the basis of the Chinese beliefs. The dynasty of Shang was overthrown by the dynasty of Zhou. The major problem which was faced by the Zhou dynasty was how to legitimize the usurpation of power. Zhou dynasty thought that they had a large army and they were capable of conquering the Shang dynasty. In this case the Mandate of heaven came to their rescue (Perry, 2002).
The current ruler always has an obligation to the people and he is answerable to them. When the ruler meets this obligation, the heaven supports the ruler. In cases when the ruling dynasty fails the people, the heaven withdraws its support in the form of natural calamities like famine, floods, droughts, earthquakes etc.
There are four principles to the mandate are:
- Heaven grants permission to the emperor authority to rule.
- There can only be one emperor at any point in time since there is only one heaven.
- The right to rule is determined by the virtue of the emperor.
- Right to rule is not confined to any one particular dynasty permanently. A person of common birth can become a king as well (Zhao, 2009).
The various signs which depict that a particular emperor has lost the authority to rule could be invasions by the foreign troops, famine, flood, earthquakes or drought. The mandate of heaven justified that if the ruler is incompetent, corrupt, unjust, and tyrannical or rebellion, then the people has the right to rebel against the king. Though according to the Mandate of Heaven it is a sin to oppose the king but in case the emperor is incompetent, the people can exercise the right to oppose (Perry, 2002).