The Hindu epics Mahabharat and Ramayan are now available in Chinese but there are hardly any takers, primarily because of China being a largely atheist nation.
The distinction of bringing out the Chinese version has been earned by the Peking University's Center for India Studies that is engaged in research in Hindi, Urdu and Sanskrit. It came into existence in 2003 after being separated from the Institute of South Asian Studies during the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's visit to China.
"While the Chinese version of Mahabharat was published for the first time this year, the work on the Ramayan was completed in the 70s." Institute chief Dr Jiang Jingkui told visiting media persons from India.
It took two decades to carry out the work on the Mahabharat in Chinese as the "writer had to attend to his job, which gave him enough earnings to meet his day-to-day expenses," he added.
The Institute will introduce works in Bangla and Tamil in the coming years. A Chinese-Hindi dictionary will also appear next year. It already has to its credit Hindi-Chinese phrase book. The Institute is engaged in research on different works including those of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore.
Interestingly, the scholars, after joining the Institute, picked up Indian names such as Amit, Deepak, Chetna, Girish, Vishnu, Sameer and Rajata. As the Institute has a shortage of Hindi teachers, most of the scholars - after completion of studies - get absorbed.
Dr Jiang, however, said there is little scope for Hindi language-related job opportunities. Those who opt for research in Hindi and other Indian languages with the hope of obtaining employment as interpreters in the corporate world in either India or China, take up Hindi journalism assignments in China or a job at the Institute itself.