Talk:Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University

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Stop.png The Arbitration Committee has placed this article on probation. The principals in Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Brahma Kumaris are expected to convert the article from its present state based on original research and BK publications to an article containing verifiable information based on reliable third party sources. After a suitable grace period, the state of the article may be evaluated on the motion of any member of the Arbitration Committee and further remedies applied to those editors who continue to edit in an inappropriate manner. Any user may request review by members of the Arbitration Committee.

Posted by Srikeit for the Arbitration committee. See Wikipedia:Requests for arbitration/Brahma Kumaris.

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Proposing Changes to Early History[edit]

Okay, while there some good independent editors attention on this article I thought to do some tweaking. I propose the following modifications the early history section:

1. In the early history it states the founder was known as "Om Baba". This was a name specifically connected to the beginning of the movement, so I will clarify this/remove the ambiguity.
2. He 'claimed a series of visions'. Changing to 'reported'.
3. Inclusion of allegations against founder
4. Escalate allegation against 'anti group' - RS that Anti-group forced daughters to eat raw pigs flesh and public paraded them to try and stop them attending the satsang. 'Domestic violence' doesn't seem to be adequately capture this kind of treatment...bit more 'tribal' than that.
5. Om Radhe's compilation (not book) was in response to the Tribunals findings, not it's formation. Adjust accordingly

Danh108 (talk) 10:06, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

I can't understand what you mean on the #3, can you explain? Also, #4 is about accusations back and forth, but what is the source from which you are taking those? GreyWinterOwl (talk) 10:46, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
In the article on the founder (which I think should be deleted or merged per this comment) there are allegations against him that should also be mentioned in the Early History. The RS for the other allegations is the Om Radhe compilation and 'Peace and Purity'. The allegation is coroborrated. Danh108 (talk) 21:22, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
Can you specify which allegations you are talking about? And is that actually relevant to the article? Maybe it's just relevant to the founder's page? Also, the reference you mentioned, as I recall, is a self-published source, so should we really give weight to it? Also, I am sure people have called religious founders they don't like all sort of things, I've read about a priest that said Sri Krishna is the devil, and people from a given religion often claim that followers/saints/leaders of another religion to be possessed by evil spirits, etc. But I don't see WP articles on religions giving much weight to that kind of he-said she-said comments. And that's most of what constitutes the "huge scientology-like controversy" Januarythe18th had filled the article with. But that doesn't mean I am against your idea, if you explain better and more specifically, I might have a different opinion. BTW I will comment on your merge proposal on the Dada Lekhraj page, I'm still not sure if I agree with it. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 22:14, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

Another error created by recent editing is the incorrect impression given that on 21 June 1938 an opposition group formed. That's wrong. As originally written the date relates the picketing and rabble rousing which was also the date of police involvement, commencement of Court proceedings resulting from that, which lead to the first 'ban'. The opposition group formed prior to this date. So I will edit to fix this up now. Danh108 (talk) 22:34, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

Re the allegations - I will put them in as a stand alone edit and see what you think? Danh108 (talk) 22:34, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

Controversies Section[edit]

1. I think McGeddon suggested dropping the bullets. Makes sense to me - WP:Prose was referred to.
2. Ditching the 'historical' vs 'contemporary' distinction. It doesn't seem to add anything.
3. Is this a controversy? "In the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Howell reported the Brahma Kumaris protected itself from the practice of families 'dumping' their daughters with the organisation by requiring a payment from the families of those wishing to dedicate their daughters to the work and services of the organisation. The payment was to cover the living expenses incurred during the trial period"Danh108 (talk) 10:13, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
Re 3 - it would be a controversy if anyone made a big fuss about it. From some angles it might be comparable to parents complaining about high school fees. If it ran counter to some other part of BKWSU doctrine, there might be a controversy there too. If it blocked access to the disadvantaged - again a possibility. But if there's no significant noise/protest about it - is it a controversy? GraemeLeggett (talk) 10:50, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
Thanks Graeme. I will leave it then - if another editor agrees with me that it's a pretty boring controversy, I will support it's deletion. Danh108 (talk) 22:36, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
Sorry for dropping off the radar for a bit - the usual competition from other commitments. Assuming editors were fine with this, so implementing it now. Danh108 (talk) 08:26, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Proposed inclusion of UN/ NGO role in lede[edit]

I was doing some homework on this, and it appears it is an interesting and distinguishing feature of this group. According to the UN website while there are over 2,700 NGO's associated to UN/UN departments, however there are only 147 that have general consultative status with ECOSOC. Flicking thru the list, it's not full of NRMs. It is interesting that the BKWSU has NGO functionality. While the UN itself is prone to being criticised as largely bureaucratic etc., the BKWSU must meet whatever the reporting requirements are to get to participate as an NGO. It's also given significance in the RS.

Incidentally when I was looking for diff's I found this post about BK related resources. In particular this one is written as a University text on the BKWSU by a Professor of Religious Studies who is not a BK. Given some of the earlier talk page commentary, I will seek to rely upon this a bit more. Regards Danh108 (talk) 17:00, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
As per the points above, I propose amending the lead to:
The Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya) or BKWSU is both a new religious movement and an NGO with general consultative status to ECOSOC at the United Nations [1] . The movement originated in India during the 1930s.[1] The Brahma Kumaris (Hindi: ब्रह्माकुमारी, "daughters of Brahma") movement was founded by Dada Lekhraj Kripalani, who later took the name Brahma Baba.[2] It is distinctly identified by the prominent role women play in the movement.

It is something distinctive about this organisation and no doubt something that can be better developed in the article after the merger with 'Brahma Kumaris at the United Nations'. If people have preferred wordings or views about this, please to add them here. Regards Danh108 (talk) 09:01, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

You need to prove with RS that the view that BK is primarily an NGO has due weight. Certainly BK is a NRM much more than an NGO. Let's suppose the Catholic Church has participation in the UN, does that make them an NGO? I'm just trying to understand. This article suffered and maybe still suffers from content of promotional nature, and this proposal is likely to classify as yet another one. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 11:33, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I have explained why it's significant - this isn't the catholic church, it is a small pokey little group of maybe 800,000. There are only 146 NGO's of 2,700 registered NGOs that have the same level of whatever commitment/involvement it is with the UN organs. You can't register as an NGO if you're not one. I think it's incumbent on you to rebut the reasons for significance I have already stated. I posted this weeks ago and you didn't comment. Please see WP:lead. Please also explain how a basic fact - that the organisation operates as an NGO and has relationship with UN organs, is 'promotional'. To be be very frank, one troll editor drumming up peoples paranoia is still having far too much influence. i get that your intentions are good. If you really think this is a problem, let's use one of the 3rd party opinion noticeboards or see if McGeddon would like to comment?. From the RS it seems that in the last 15-20 years this movement has increasing expanded it's "social work' functions i.e. the healthcare, environmental and various UN activities, as per the article. I also note this article didn't receive any comments about it being promotional for 8 months, until the troll editor came back ranting (however I do agree there were mistakes made in the article (like the linkfarm), and I was responsible for that)Danh108 (talk) 16:03, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
I didn't ask for evidence that BK is an NGO. I asked for due weight from RS describing BK as an NGO, which is what matters on WP. Until then, I think you are not right to revert. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 18:07, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
Should be clear - you reverted my edit. I have explained significance based on numbers - you still haven't responded to this. If you want me to somehow find RS about what proportion of the movement can be defined as part of their NGO capacity, vs their NRM capacity, I have not found anything. Certainly all the major projects described in the article relate to the movement as an NGO. I am not aware of any statistics about it's 'religious work' and am not sure what activities fit under this. I don't agree with your unevidenced assertion "Certainly BK is a NRM much more than an NGO". Says who? From the article, it seems opposite to me - solar projects, farming, values education etc are all NGO things. This NGO has a 'religious' (they might say spiritual) constitution. Am I missing something? Thank you Danh108 (talk) 18:42, 4 November 2014 (UTC)
You are the one to affirm NGO should be on the lede, and so it's up to you to prove it. Unfortunately, for Wikipedia, it's not enough to say they do "NGO things". You need that said by at least one reliable source, and even then, it needs to be given proportional weight by the RS so that it can be on the lede, otherwise it can be referred to just within a section of the article. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 00:21, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
NGO addition in Lede is promotional in nature and undue. Agree with GWO here and this should be removed from Lede. Changeisconstant (talk) 07:45, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

@James, it probably answers the points you've raised if I address CIC's point at the same time. In essence, to my mind the inclusion is highly uncontroversial and I find the responses here amazing, and the fact that you all snubbed the talk page for 3 weeks and then get excited only when I edit the page is disappointing. It seems to me people with a personal religious connection to the group are biased to see the organisation in that light. But this whole article talks about NGO activities (not religious) that the organisation will have to report to ECOSOC on annually to maintain it's status - the article content is primarily NGO content. It strikes me as particularly empty to say it's 'promotional' - what exactly is it that editors are claiming is being advertised? The language is neutral, the facts described are in a wide range of RS (and James, if you click that link given, the heading below "Civil Society Participation" is "....Organisations in consultative status with ECOSOC - general") - pages 65-68 of Whalings 'Understanding Brahma Kumaris' goes into some detail about the UN/NGO connection. Having non-secular belief's does not mean the group is not an NGO. It is the activities (as per the article) which are definitional. I'm kind of speechless that this point is being debated. GWO and CIC especially, please read up on this (at least on NGO) and broaden your views (sorry if that sounds arrogant...but I don't think people realise how much the other editor influenced people's thinking). Danh108 (talk) 08:51, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Editors passing over a vague "it is interesting" talk thread but reacting when you actually make an edit is par for the course on lower-traffic articles, and a standard part of WP:BRD. It's not something to be disappointed by or suspicious about.
All religious groups are pretty much NGOs by definition, aren't they? Mentioning the UN connection seems potentially undue when it's a small part of the article and unclear how significant it actually is - it should only be there if the typical one-line description of Brahma Kumaris in a secondary source mentions its consultative status to the UN. (By comparison, other articles about organisations with this status mention it further down the lede, in the body alone, or not at all.) --McGeddon (talk) 10:16, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
@McGeddon: Do you really believe "all religious groups are NGOs?" Did you read my comments? It wasn't a vague thread - the heading is "Proposed inclusion in the lede"!! This group doesn't have any religious activities (at least not described in the article) - if the group is to be defined by what they actually do, they are an NGO and most of the article content supports this, so it's not undue at all. I will try and find if their reporting to ECOSOC is public record....my hunch would be all the stuff in this article will be being reported back to the UN as NGO activity.
I think one dilemma people are facing in understanding this organisation/group is that IMHO it did start out as a world rejecting cult. However it is interesting (and commentators like Wallis and Whaling have taken this up) how the movement has kept changing and has been 'trying to find its place in the world' - particularly as it internationalised and as the world didn't end. Most of the things the troll editor would throw up were very old because they wanted to paint movement as it was 70 years ago, but the modern operation is quite different. Anyway, that's my take on it. Danh108 (talk) 10:51, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
Reliable sources rather than hunches and humble opinions, please. How do present-day secondary sources tend to define Brahma Kumaris? --McGeddon (talk) 10:58, 5 November 2014 (UTC)
You didn't answer my question or respond to my concerns. This is the talk page, and as JBW just wrote on my talk page, I'm allowed to express hunches and humble opinions here - I was trying to politely help you understand the subject matter. Anyway, I'm being gently coerced into a holiday which is quite agreeable for meeting my offline commitments. Regards Danh108 (talk) 17:48, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Concerns about promotional tone/content[edit]

As the editors participating here must already be aware, many editors have expressed concern that this article appears promotional. For that reason, although I wish the consensus was more specific and actually described the parts of the article that appear promotional, and although, unfortunately, some editors have even jumped to accusations that include myself before they even attempted to edit the article directly or use the talk page, and after I have supported edits that removed promotional content, I will of course follow this consensus and search for everything that seems promotional about this article and delete it.

I must remind everyone once again that I never made a single edit to this article that added promotional tone or content. And until the contrary is proven, I want to assume good faith towards the ones who did, that they did so unintentionally.

I must let it clear, though, that in no way does this mean I agree with User:Januarythe18th's claims. I saw how this article was when he owned it (and anyone can see on the history), a festival of WP:OR to say the least. Even though I agree and never denied that this article at the moment appears promotional, I believe that to be, for Jan18, just an excuse to cover his real propaganda, and the reason why he made big reverts to try to insert contentious content without discussion. To all other editors, I sincerely respect all of you and am here for the purpose of Wikipedia, not any agenda as Januarythe18th exhaustively and falsely accused me. I hope there will be no doubt about my good faith based on my following edits and that they will please those who expressed the concerns. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 22:49, 7 October 2014 (UTC)

I looked at the article and found that the part most likely to be promotional was the "Achievements and Recognition" one, and I decided to delete it completely. If anyone sees something else I missed, please express your concerns or edit the article yourself. I hope this addresses the concerns previously expressed. GreyWinterOwl (talk) 23:20, 7 October 2014 (UTC)
It looks alright to me as there weren't any noteworthy achievements in-line with the practice and beliefs as such. I checked for some others like "Art of living" and while it didn't have an achievements section, it was still promotional in highlighting social services. Changeisconstant (talk) 17:07, 8 October 2014 (UTC)
I never created the 'achievements' section either - that was there when I arrived. I get your point about its impact on the over all 'tone' of the article. I will try and fix up the early history soon. Please do give faster feedback if you consider any language 'flowery' - it's best to get these comments direct and at the time, about the specific text alleged to be 'offending'. Otherwise I can't use the feedback to learn. Danh108 (talk) 16:39, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Expansion section[edit]

The expansion section is extremely brief. However I don't propose to address that at present. I note that it states the movement started to expand overseas in the 1950's, then states later it spread first to London in 1970....these statements can't both be true. Plus 'international expansion program' sounds a bit weird. Any thoughts?Danh108 (talk) 11:46, 2 November 2014 (UTC)

Addressing the above concerns I have drafted fairly plain summary that covers the period 1950 - 1974 and reworded/simplified the short paragraph that comes at the end of this section. Feedback on the draft section is welcomed. I will insert it in a couple of days. Regards Danh108 (talk) 16:19, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Any reason for cutting the line that "According to the BKWSU website, there are currently over 4,500 centres in 100 countries, mostly in followers' own homes with a tendency toward middle or upper class membership."? And is "there is no clear definition of the level of involvement required to be considered a member" a better summary of the Howell source than the current "it is reported that many were probably not completely committed to the group's worldview"? --McGeddon (talk) 16:41, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
Good questions. I cut the line that relied on the BKWSU website as there is more independent RS available. The part about their own homes and social class wasn't substantiated by any RS and I couldn't find any thing that supported that view. I thought it may have also been open to the common complaint here, that it's self appreciating to claim your following is from higher class. Second point: There is perhaps a spectrum of participation from 'entire life and all belongings' to those who are 'part of the congregation'. By analogy to other religions, is being in the congregation membership, or is it being more heavily involved and part of the clergy/priesthood/a monk etc. So rather than directly repeat what Howell wrote, I was drawing out the point she was making, that these figures could be considered arbitrary or unreliable.Danh108 (talk) 21:15, 13 January 2015 (UTC)