Monday, July 13, 2009

Ji Xianlin

Ji Xianlin (1911-2009) is dead. Here are a couple of clippings from
newspaper articles about him:

"Ji chose to major in Sanskrit in 1936, when he was a student at the
University of Gottingen in Germany. The reason was that 'Chinese
culture has been so much influenced by Indian culture, and great
discoveries can be made in research on the two nations' cultural
relationship,' he wrote in his best-selling biography 10 Years in

In the following seven decades, he made discoveries not only about the
spread of Buddhism from India to China but also about the export of
the skills of making paper and silk from China to India.

He wrote seven books, including a short history of India, apart from
translating Ramayana from the original Sanskrit to Chinese in poetry

He did the translation secretly during the 'cultural revolution'
(1966-76). His memoir of the 10-year turmoil, titled Memoirs from the
Cowshed and published in 1998, touched the hearts of millions of
Chinese readers with the dignity of an intellectual in the face of
both physical and mental torture. "

"Even in the dark times during the fascist reign, Ji, with an empty
stomach, still continued to work hard in subjects such as Greek,
Latin, and Sanskrit. When he got an "A" in all his PhD subjects, Ji
said, "I haven't disgraced my country; my scores are the only comfort
that I can give to my motherland."

Soon after returning to China, Ji Xianlin began to work in Peking
University and since then has engaged himself in applying his
patriotism into the teaching and research profession to pay back to
his country, starting numerous new research topics and devoting
himself to academic research, proudly finishing 40 articles and 13
academic papers within three years.

Setting his heart on serving the country with his academic
achievements, Ji started to translate the world famous Indian epic
Ramayana in secret. After five years of strenuous work, he finally
finished translating the 80,000-line epic into Chinese, erecting a
monument in the history of China's translation and Sino-Indian
cultural exchange. "

And an informative Wikipedia article on Ji Xianlin: