Friday, July 31, 2009

Death of a Chinese indologist, a former Indian foreign minister remembers

Recently, a former foreign minister of India, Jaswant Singh, a member of the Lok Sabha, belonging to the BJP, paid tribute to a Chinese indologist, Ji Xianlin, who died at the ripe age of 98, on July 11, in Beijing.
Ji Xianlin’s greatest scholarly accomplishments were in the realm of “the history of Indian Buddhism and comparative linguistics.” He was a greatly venerated Chinese scholar who had “secretly translated the Sanskrit-Hindu text of the Ramayan into Chinese during the Cultural Revolution”.
Ji travelled to Germany in 1935 for study. At the “University of Gottingen he moved in a new direction, choosing to major in Sanskrit and other ancient Indian languages under the direction of Ernst Waldschmidt and Emil Sieg.” Ji received his Ph.D. in Germany and after World War II returned to China where he took a position at Beijing University and founded the Department of Eastern Languages."
Ji pioneered a method of “using comparative linguistics to verify historical events and to track changes over time.” Ji’s scholarly findings over the course of his career won for him “academic prizes in India, Iran and Japan”.
Read the complete article here. 31 July 2009

It would be interesting to read some of Ji's interpretation of India.