Talk:The Hindus: An Alternative History

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Cherry-picked quotations[edit]

User:NeilN has reverted my removal of the cherry-picked quotations from the journal articles. This edit is a flagrant violation of the WP:NPOV policy. Articles should be represented fairly and accurately, rather than selecting the most damning sections of a review to place in the article, giving the reader the impression that the book was panned. See WP:Cherry. — goethean 14:57, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Fowler&fowler, as you see, your material from Wendy Doniger has been copied into here. goethean classifies this as "cherry-picked". Are these quotes conclusions (as you state for one) and summaries or do they appear at random in the text? --NeilN talk to me 15:01, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
So what you are saying is that you placed those quotations in this article without even reading the sources. That seems extremely irresponsible at best. — goethean 15:20, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Actually, I followed a fundamental principle of Wikipedia - WP:AGF. The sourced material was added by an editor in good standing and there were no challenges to its veracity. --NeilN talk to me 15:27, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Follow up question: Did you read the sources before accusing another editor of cherry-picking the quotes? --NeilN talk to me 15:31, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, I have the articles. I think that I will follow up at [[Talk:WP:AGF]] on whether your use of WP:AGF is valid, because,'s not. — goethean 16:30, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I'll definitely be watching for that. --NeilN talk to me 16:35, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Hardly cherry picked. If anything, I left out the most damning parts. Here are the entire last two concluding paragraphs of Shrimali's 15-page review:

There are several issues that need more detailed and nuanced analysis rather than straight-jacketed formulations that we read in The Hindus. These concern terminologies and chronologies invoked, perfunctory manner in which class-caste struggles have been referred to — almost casually, complex inter-religious dialogue seen only in the context of Visnu's avataras, and looking at the tantras merely in terms of sex and political power. The work rarely rises above the level of tale telling. (Last paragraph) On the whole, this is neither a serious work for students of Indian history, nor for those with a critical eye on 'religious history' of India, nor indeed it is the real Alternative History of the 'Hindus'. The main actors of the narrative are not speaking themselves. They merely seem to be mouthing dialogues scripted by the privileged upper classes. Apparently, The Hindus is targeted at the western readership, urbanised Indians and Indian diaspora and we won't be surprised if it sells very well in the contemporary milieu of the 'market fundamentalist' world.

Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:15, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Here are the last three paragraphs of Ludo Rocher's review in the JAOS:

" ... ("By the Grace of Dog," p. 499). She especially loves to illustrate ancient stories by interjecting com-parisons with situations with which the audience is familiar: Doniger commands an unbelievably vast array of comparable material, often, though not always, from American popular culture. Doniger acknowledges that the book was not meant to be as long as it turned out to be, "but it got the bit between its teeth, and ran away from me" (p. 1). Several pages are indeed filled with "good stories" that are only loosely, some very loosely, related to the history of the Hindu religion. Going into detail on the drinking and other vices of the Mughal emperors, even though carefully documented, is a case in point (pp. 539-41). The Black Hole of Calcutta may have been "one of the great British icons of the historical mythology of the Raj" (p. 382), but it involved only the temporarily victorious Muslim Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-daula, and British prisoners, no Hindus. "The best pun in the history of the Raj" (p. 600), i.e., the message peccavi ("I have sinned/Sind") attributed to Charles James Napier, also appears to be given more attention than it deserves in a book on Hinduism. Since Wendy Doniger openly disclaims any ambition to have written a conventional history ("my training is as a philologist, not a historian," p. 3), minor historical slips may be forgiven. Yet, there are some that deserve to be rectified. Warren Hastings may be accused of having done many objectionable things, but labeling him "a brute of the first order" when talking about his exalted preface to Charles Wilkins's translation of the Bhagavadgita appears incongruous (p. 596). And, even though this, too, has been held against him, it might have been worth mentioning that it was Hastings who successfully promoted the idea that "in all suits regarding inheritance, marriage, caste, and other religious usages and institutions, the laws. . . of the Shaster with regard to Gentoos shall be invariably adhered to." When it comes to legal history in the colonial period in particular, there are passages that are bound to raise the eyebrows of Doniger's once coeditor Duncan Derrett. Sir William Jones was not the chief justice of the High Court of Calcutta (p. 595); the "High Court of Judicature at Fort William" was established in 1862. King George III appointed him as a puisne judge of "His Majesty's Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William." Also, the history of Hindu law was more complex than it is represented in this volume. Anglo-Hindu law was far more than "the British interpretation of Jones's translation of Manu," and what the British did was far more than "to replace the multiplicity of legal voices [of local indigenous courts] and the centuries of case law with a single voice, that of Jones's Manu" (p. 596). Jones knew that the Manusmrti was an inadequate tool for British judges to decide cases involv-ing Hindus. After Halhed's CODE of Gentoo Laws, and his own INSTITUTES of Menu, Jones went to work on a DIGEST of Hindoo Law—one cannot help being reminded of Tribonian—which was trans-lated into English by Henry Thomas Colebrooke. Dissatisfaction with the unwieldy Digest in turn led Colebrooke to translate two specific treatises on inheritance, a publication Doniger incorrectly alludes to in connection with Rammohan Roy's tracts on Hindu law. In it Colebrooke translated the section on inheritance in a commentary, titled Mitakyara, written by Vijildnegvara, on the Yajlzavalkyasmrti, not on the Manusmrti, and Jimatavahana' s Dayabhaga, a nibandha entirely devoted to the law of inheri-tance, not of marriage (p. 616)."

Like I said before, the early-modern and modern sections in particular are littered with errors of incomplete understanding. If she had even read Wikipedia's article on Company_rule_in_india#Justice_system or William Jones (philologist), she wouldn't have made the kind of sloppy mistakes about William Jones that Rocher points out. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:50, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

Need I also draw attention to some famous last edit summaries Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:51, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
It's rare I burst out laughing while editing Wikipedia... --NeilN talk to me 18:00, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, violating Wikipedia's core policies is always hilarious. — goethean 19:28, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
So far I've only glanced at the article. However, as a first reaction, I would say that the use of quotations here is indeed excessive. It's fine to offer brief quotations from a review, but these quotations do seem too long, and there are too many of them. More material should be presented in summarized form. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 20:36, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
@FreeKnowledgeCreator:, The last four quotes, which have the combined depth of the low tide at Mont Saint-Michel have been added by user:Goethean. Given such unashamed nickel and diming, I will add some more academic quotes and rely on someone else to paraphrase their main points into pithy prose. Perhaps you can do it FreeKnowledgeCreator. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 21:23, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
I have added three more academic reviews, and, in the process, brought more rigor to my task than Doniger, sadly, has to hers. Assume for a minute that I have cherry picked my quotes (and any selection is a form of cherry-picking). When so many scholars make the same points (that the history writing is poor, the focus is lacking, the historical narrative, such as it is, is based low-brow secondary sources, which include Salman Rushdie and the NY Times), even if offering praise elsewhere, they collectively speak to some flaws in the book. The praise, incidentally, differs from scholar to scholar, indicating to me that it is a form of intellectual politeness, gentlemanly even-handedness, before the real criticism is offered. None is anything like the example of wholehearted praise (of Patrick Olivelle) I give below on this talk page. I hope you factor this point in when you write the precis version of the page. I'm done now. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:03, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
This is completely idiotic. Every time that I add quotations to balance out your overly lengthy, obviously cherry-picked quotations, you are going to add more? Why do you insist on playing this stupid game rather than editing the article is a responsible, neutral manner? — goethean 23:31, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────You still have to give me credit for finding the academic sources in the first place. Not too many people can do that, certainly not Doniger, for one, when it comes to the history. A simple Google or Google Scholar search will not do that. This is a book whose author has no time to be brief, why should the wikipedia page devoted to the book then be concise? What goes around comes around. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:27, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Fowler&fowler, I'm not concerned with who put what where. I am simply noting that the current state of the article is unsatisfactory. By the way, Goethean is absolutely right that edits like this are, to be very polite about it, not helpful. Incidentally, that edit was not minor and you shouldn't have marked it that way - it caused a significant change of meaning. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 05:00, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Really? Why is my "what they say" different from yours? Both were personal judgments of reviewers. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 12:22, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

The wording you used was, "Two scholarly reviews in the Social Scientist and the Journal of the American Oriental Society, though praising Doniger for what they saw as her textual scholarship, both criticized what they also saw as her poor historiography and lack of focus." Goethean was right to describe that as childish. It's the kind of too-clever edit that starts to border on vandalism. A grown-up editor, especially someone actually familiar with scholarship, hardly should need an explanation of what is wrong with it: it's not a point of controversy that Doniger's work involves scholarship yet "what they saw as her textual scholarship" manages to imply that it is controversial that there is any scholarship in Doniger's work. I'm tempted to say that if you can't understand what's wrong with that, then you simply shouldn't be editing this article at all. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 18:51, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

A comparison[edit]

Here are two comparisons. First the first (and part of second) paragraph of Chapter 2 of Doniger:

Once upon a time, about 50 million years ago, a triangular plate of land, moving fast (for a continent), broke off from Madagascar (a large island lying off the southeastern coast of Africa) and, “adrift on the earth’s mantle,” sailed across the Indian Ocean and smashed into the belly of Central Asia with such force that it squeezed the earth five miles up into the skies to form the Himalayan range and fused with Central Asia to become the Indian subcontinent. Or so the people who study plate tectonics nowadays tell us, and who am I to challenge them? ... Other scientists in the colonial period agreed about the ancient supercontinent but imagined its disintegration as taking place in the opposite way, not when land (proto-India) broke off from land (Australia/ Africa) and moved through water (the Indian Ocean) to join up with other land (Central Asia), but rather when water (the Indian Ocean) moved in over land (a stationary supercontinent like Gondwanaland) that was henceforth lost under the waves, like Atlantis. According to this story, water eventually submerged (under what is now called the Indian Ocean) the land that had extended from the present Australia through Madagascar to the present South India. Doniger, Wendy (2009-02-24). The Hindus: An Alternative History (p. 52-53). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition."

and second, the India page's Geography section:

India comprises the bulk of the Indian subcontinent, lying atop the Indian tectonic plate, and part of the Indo-Australian Plate.[1] India's defining geological processes began 75 million years ago when the Indian plate, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a north-eastward drift caused by seafloor spreading to its south-west, and later, south and south-east.[1] Simultaneously, the vast Tethyn oceanic crust, to its northeast, began to subduct under the Eurasian plate.[1] These dual processes, driven by convection in the Earth's mantle, both created the Indian Ocean and caused the Indian continental crust eventually to under-thrust Eurasia and to uplift the Himalayas.[1] Immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough that rapidly filled with river-borne sediment[2] and now constitutes the Indo-Gangetic Plain.[3] Cut off from the plain by the ancient Aravalli Range lies the Thar Desert.[4]

The Indian plate didn't sail through the Indian Ocean. There was no Indian Ocean. It was created by the same process that moved India north. India didn't squeeze Central Asia; it under-thrust or subducted under Eurasia. India didn't break away from Africa. Gondwanaland broke up. Africa itself moved north. The Vesuvius is a piece of Africa that rose up in Europe as a result of the same tectonic processes. If a geologist had written comparable garbage about Sanskrit literature, what are the chances they would get published? Fowler&fowler«Talk» 16:09, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

I can see you don't like the book but can we remain focused on what published sources say about it? goethean, are there any academic sources that generally praise it in their summaries? --NeilN talk to me 16:15, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
It is shocking that an experienced editor like Fowler&Fowler thinks that this is an appropriate use of a talk page. — goethean 16:32, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
But it is not shocking that an author has the gall to write such garbage and a publisher to publish it? (And I mean here, only that paragraph.). As I've said before, I've been reading her books since the late 1970s and have enjoyed some of them. She has great energy, great imagination. That's what many of the reviews say: the energy, richness, and story-telling is great, but when it comes to history, especially of the early-modern and modern period, here are the problems ... (This applies to the remaining two reviews which I have just added.) Look, I dislike the Hindu nationalist ideology a lot more than I dislike that pathetic geology paragraph above. The Hindu nationalists need to be opposed on their own terms, not by suggesting that this is a great book. The publisher got cold feet. It is not the fault of the law, section 295A (enacted in late the British raj, 1927, as an amendment to section 295), as Doniger is suggesting, and, in the process, drifting into another subject she only dimly understands (Indian jurisprudence). Dinah Shelton and Alexandre Kris in an article in Religous Human Rights in Global Perspective, say: "Section 295A covers deliberate and malicious outrage on the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India by spoken or written words or by visible representations that insult or attempt to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class. Case law indicates that only clear and serious breaches of these provisions are prosecuted. See Law Commission, 49." The publisher has created drama by wimping out. This is my last reply here. I am seriously tired of this inane debate. Call this book the greatest thing since wonder bread, if you'd like. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:00, 16 February 2014 (UTC)
Btw, one doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to recognize a favorable review. Here is an example of a favorable review of Patrick Olivelle's two books, in the same Journal of the American Oriental Society, which begins with, "When our non-philologically inclined colleagues ask us scornfully what modern-day philology can contribute to the larger and more searching questions that occupy their attention, Indologists have the good fortune to be able to point to Patrick OliveIle, a consummate philologist (and recent past president of the AOS), who is a dream example of how deep engagement with texts on all levels produces insights into the deeper content and larger context of those texts. The two volumes under review, containing collected papers and book chapters from over thirty years, are an excellent introduction to the magic that OliveIle can work on texts and to the breadth of his interests." and which ends with "It is simply impossible within the confines of a review to do justice to the richness of these two collections, and I will not even try. But it does give me pleasure to draw the attention of our readership to these two volumes, and it gave me even more pleasure to read through these articles again and to watch OliveIle, time and time again, demonstrate what philology can do in the right hands." I've been reading reviews for some 40 years. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:24, 16 February 2014 (UTC)

WikiProject Freedom of speech[edit]

I've been reverted twice now by @Fowler&fowler:, so I'd like to explain that we at Wikiproject Freedom of speech have decided that this article falls within the scope of our project because of the implications of censorship and chilling effects. If you feel that we are wasting our time, feel free to discuss it there, but I doubt you'll get much traction. It's our decision what falls under the scope of our project, we don't have to ask permission. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 17:20, 17 February 2014 (UTC)

Garbage, I say. You made a post at 9 AM. Cirt replied without any supportive argument at 17:00 hrs and you declared consensus, without posting either here, on Doniger's talk page, on WT:INDIA or WikiProject Hinduism. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:23, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
And you are edit warring over this why? No offense, but your behavior is bizarre. — goethean 17:25, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
It is. What is bizarre is that this project is completely absent on the books in List of books banned by governments!! Haha. Naked Lunch, Lady Chatterly's Lover, Topic of Cancer (novel), The Satanic Verses, The Naked and the Dead, ... Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:50, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
When I have no answer, I also like to change the subject. — goethean 17:55, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
@Fowler&fowler: - We can't be everywhere. These articles likely are in scope, but someone from our wikiproject hasn't gotten around to adding the template. We've already added some of the books you mentioned on the project page, thank you for the suggestions. That said - you're missing the primary argument which is that we think this article is in scope. If you disagree, try and change the consensus. If you think that none of these books should be in scope, argue it there. If you think that they all should be, same deal.0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 17:58, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Also, I don't know what you're talking about with the List of books banned by governments - our template was added in October 2012 - almost immediately after the project was started. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:02, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
I said, "the books in the list," not the list itself. This after all is a book, not a list. Anyway, I'm fast losing interest. Do what you will. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:43, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
So still no reason for the edit warring. — goethean 19:09, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
It seems this has settled down now, but just in case it flares up again, I'll say as the "aggrieved party" in the "edit war", I don't think that reverting my edits twice is really such a criminal offense that he needs to justify it after he's already conceded the issue - there's always that balance when reverting edits where editors communicate their points through the edit summaries and hope that they can resolve things without getting into a whole discussion on the talk page. Even if the conflict were still ongoing, I think it's important to focus on the issues at hand rather than get bogged down in who committed what sins in the past. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 22:32, 17 February 2014 (UTC)
Point taken. However, F&F has been on a spree of unexplained, impulsive editing at this article and another the last few days, and this is just another episode. — goethean 01:04, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────If you are toying with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or even hypomanic cycling, please leave some lithium here Dr. Goethean. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:06, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Article directions[edit]

Apparently tensions run high on this article, but I'd like to say that all partisanship aside, this article is a bit of a mess. It's primarily made up of large chunks directly excerpted from review when that information really needs to be digested and synthesized into what would probably be around 3 paragraphs. That's probably critical, as it seems like it borders on WP:COPYVIO, though the bigger problem is that it's a WP:QUOTEFARM.

I disagree with the changes that @Fowler&fowler: has made to the lead - I think that they should be synthesized into the Court case in India section, and replaced with a more brief summary of the controversy with zero commentary, something like, "In February 2014, it was the subject of litigation in India [by the group Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samithi (Hindi, literally, 'Committee for Struggle to Save Education')], alleging that the work had [']heretical['] content which hurts the feelings of Hindus. As a result of the lawsuit, the book was withdrawn from the Indian market by its Indian publisher, raising concerns about censorship in many critics." (things in square brackets I'm not sure they need to be there). I think this is an accurate summary that does not get into too much of the nitty-gritty details and put undue weight in the lead. As it is now, there's almost as much detail on this subject in the lead as there is in the article! 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 17:39, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm a busy guy. Wikipedia is incidental to my life. I have a day job. I type very fast (100 wpm). Even so, it is the best I can do in the snatches of time I have. The quotes have been added as place holders until such time their general drift is summarized into pithy prose. This page is barely two days old. I'm the one who has found most of the sourced content. Before I accidentally turned up, the Doniger page was a little shrine under a Pipal tree maintained for years by the faithful who could imagine only good things being said about their demi-god. Look at the history. I've just added an underconstruction tag. Cut me some slack. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 17:56, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
I'm just making an objective assessment of the page and trying to outline direction forward towards encyclopedic content, not a personal attack on the creators. You don't see me running in to summarize the material. Personally, I'd prefer to remove the quoted content entirely rather than leave it up in its current format. We don't need a bunch of "placeholder" content and I think it's counter-productive for a number of reasons. I think that people stumbling across the article will glance at it, see the long blocks of quotes and be overwhelmed with the amount of irrelevant information they see there. Editors will be unlikely to make minor improvements because they'd have to read a huge amount of text to understand the context in which they are working. Not to mention that on a first glance, because the article is "puffed out", it looks like it has a higher information content than it actually has, and you may need to read quite a bit of it to realize this.
I propose that we clear out all the blockquotes and leave whatever paragraph-form content is left, no matter how meager, and implement the changes to the lead that I proposed. If you'd like to keep the current version handy for later synthesis into the article, I'd suggest mirroring it on your sandbox. Do you have a significant objection to either proposal? 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:05, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
That's nonsense. There is no WP policy that recommends that this early in the history of the page. Please don't preach about quote farms to an experienced editor. Check out my user page and the numerous article I have created. Where are the quote farms? Like I said, relax, and cut me some slack. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:14, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Nothing I have said has anything to do with impugning your ability, experience or character. I've made specific points about the article that you have yet to address. If the article is of poor quality it needs to be improved, whether it's 2 days old or 2 years old. I'm saying that this article is a quote farm, unnecessarily. Since the problem is apparently lack of time and not objection to my proposals, I'll go ahead and implement them. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:17, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Fowler has used sources in a deceptive way; consequently, some of the material is not well-sourced. — goethean 18:23, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I am also concerned about WP:SYNTH in this case. Once the quotes were cleared out, it was easier for me to see that he was juxtaposing critical scholarly articles with positive popular press in such away that appears to be balanced and well-sourced, but may in fact create an impression of a division of opinion between experts and lay-people that may not exist. I don't have enough understanding of the literature regarding the reception of the book, but if we can find some negative press from popular media outlets and some positive press from reputable scholarly outlets I think balance can be restored. If such a division honestly exists, perhaps we can find some commentary to support it. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:27, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

@Fowler&fowler: I see that you have sneaked the quotes into the footnotes. Can you explain your reasoning? Did you think that that would be an uncontroversial act? The quotes were supposed to be "placeholders" for something. They are not adding anything to the article and they are available at the sources! What is the reasoning for including them in this article? 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:43, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Like I said, they are not available to non-subscribers, four not even in JSTOR. They are essential to summarizing. Again, don't write nonsense about heresy and free speech. It is clear that you know nothing about India, Hinduism, or Doniger's writings. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:49, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
First off, where did you say this? Second, the fact that you need to be a subscriber to access it doesn't mean that it belongs here. By that logic, we should mirror pirated copies of movies on Wikipedia because you need to buy the DVD to watch them! You admitted above that they are "placeholders", and yet here you are insisting that they are critical to the article. Which is it?0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:52, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

@Fowler&fowler: It seems like you are being deliberately obtuse here. You realize that your reversions and rewrites will be controversial, and yet you insist on making them in the main namespace without discussing here first. I have explained my reasoning here before making changes and you have failed to comment on them here as appropriate. Please address my points before making further changes to the article. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:50, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

What are you sourcing "heretical" to? Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:51, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
This BBC news article (currently citation 21) indicates that the lawsuit alleged that it contained "heresies". As it's not a direct quote but more of a "scare quotes" type situation, I felt it appropriate to change heresy>heretical for better sentence flow. We can move the citation up from the earlier section into the lead if you prefer. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 19:01, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
I don't believe that. You'll have to produce the legal petition. In no other report is the word "heresy" or "heretical" used. See Alyssa Ayres column in Forbes which has links to the on line petition addressed to Penguin there (not the legal one though), and see also Five pieces of evidence offered by Hindu fundamentalist group ... which has a summary of the legal petition. More significantly, it is clear, and let me repeat, you know nothing about Hinduism or Doniger, otherwise, you wouldn't be using that word. The BBC author S. Biswas is known for his sloppiness; he writes op-ed pieces. It is not hard news. Sadly, I don't have time for you. I'll leave a post on WT:INDIA and WikiProject Hinduism and let them deal with you inanities. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 19:51, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
I most certainly do not have to produce the legal petition, as that is a primary source. I am aware that it is difficult for you to prove a negative, but the 'heresy' language is widespread among reliable sources, in addition to the BBC link, there is: Reuters, Dhaka Tribune, The Star, The Guardian. Clearly this language is well-sourced. Your skepticism about the idea that someone would say heresy because it's not common in India does not override this. I didn't make up the wording, and no matter how "sloppy" you think the BBC writer was, it seems unlikely that they would make up words in quotes, nor that several alternative, reliable institutions like The Guardian would fabricate the same exact quote wholesale. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 20:00, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
@Fowler&fowler: - If you "don't have time for me" (which is fine), does that also mean I can't expect a justification for keeping the large sections of text copied from the sources into the references section as I requested above? If you have no justification and no desire to discuss the matter, I'd like to remove them. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 20:10, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Removal of "nonsense"?[edit]

@Fowler&fowler: I don't know why you persist like this. You asked me what my source was, I responded with four additional sources using the same language, then asked for additional comments. Rather than respond, you simply removed the content, again. This is honestly becoming a problem please discuss things and come to a consensus. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 21:12, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

You are summarizing a petition which has a number of statements (see a list of some highlights of the petition in Outlook magazine, a semi-academic magazine published in India) among which are: "That it is a shallow, distorted and non serious presentation of Hinduism." "That it is a haphazard presentation riddled with heresies and factual inaccuracies," "That it is written with a Christian Missionary Zeal and hidden agenda to denigrate Hindus and show their religion in poor light," "That the entire list of the books authored by Doniger concentrate and focus on the negative aspects and evil practices prevalent in Hinduism," "That the words used by Doniger for referring to various Hindu Gods are highly objectionable," "That on the book jacket of the book Lord Krishna is shown sitting on buttocks of a naked woman surrounded by other naked women," "That Doniger depicted Lord Krishna in such a vulgar, base perverse manner to outrage religious feelings of Hindus," "That Doniger's approach has been jaundiced, and 'is that of a woman hungry of sex'" And those are just the highlights. :) It is a poorly written petition to be sure, but you have summarized that summary as, "alleging that the work had "heretical" content which hurts the feelings of Hindus." How do you come about that? It is common sense that since the concept of "heresy" doesn't exist in a free-wheeling religion, such as Hinduism, in quite the same say as it does in the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism), to not use it, especially in a one word summary of a long petition, no matter how misguided and simple-minded the petition might be. WP rules about RS go only so far. In the hands of the people not knowledgeable about the religion or the culture, they lead to distortion of meaning. If you are looking to win a high-school debating society debate, you can keep waxing here and producing more links. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 21:17, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
This is not a good point, but I have now re-worded the lead in such a way that obviates the need for this language. I was re-wording the original language of the section on the lawsuit in this article in the first place. The only question for me is whether the allegations of "heresies" were part of the legal allegations or just part of a wider criticism. It seems like there may have been two different actions, an open letter type thing and a lawsuit. We likely could have reached a satisfactory conclusion to this discussion more quickly if you would please start addressing only the text, assume good faith and stop making everything into a personal attack. If I'm wrong I'm wrong, but you have to convince me of that with logic and facts, not by telling me that I'm simply ignorant. If I disagree with your edits or something you've written, that's not a personal attack on your character or expertise, and I'd prefer it if you'd stop defending yourself and start defending your work (to the extent that you even wish to defend it!). 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 21:23, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

Self-descriptions in the lead replacing sourced content[edit]

In his edit with edit summary, "I can find absolutely no sources corroborating the current book summary. For lack of better descriptive language, I've used author's statement about intentions." user:#0x0077BE has replaced sourced content with a self-description of Dongier, which is both unencyclopedic and vague, "alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell" (who is "they" and what is "Hindu history," there being no one narrative), which is cited to a superficial review by journalist Pankaj Mishra, master of the intellectual shallow-water splish-splash. The previous sentence fragment, "a non-traditional, personal, and selective history," was sourced to the review Kolff, D.H.A. (December 2010), "Review of Wendy Doniger, The Hindus: An Alternative History (New York: Penguin), 2009. 779 pages. Rs 999", Indian Historical Review 37: 333–338 , in which the reviewer says, "The habit of looking at oneself from the point of view of another's experience, if reciprocated by that other, represents a unique learning process. Doniger's book, because of its idiosyncrasy, functions as an active stimulus in that process. It provokes, one hopes, an inversely directed view, that of Hindu-inspired scholarship aiming at self-knowledge gained in the search for what is original and authentic in the West, exactly because it is not-Hindu. Inevitably, such efforts, however academically sound, are personal and, therefore, selective. Doniger's subtitle, An Alternative History, is a recognition of this fact. Scholarship, as a discussion without an end, cannot do otherwise than presenting tentative alternatives to what was said before. (p.335)"

User #0x0etc has been removing quotes on the grounds that it is enough to merely cite the references. As is well known, references, in general, are not cited in the lead. use:#0x0etc. is not allowing others to edit. He has reverted people at least three times in the last 12 hours, two of which have edit summaries that urge readers to discuss on the talk page first. He, however, feels no such compulsion to do so himself, even for removal of sourced content. Will some admin please take a look at this? Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:54, 18 February 2014 (UTC)

You are being ridiculous. I reverted reversions that I had specifically discussed in the talk page and on which I have not been challenged. Regarding the "removal of sourced statements", do you not realize how POV that is? I took a direct quotation from the author regarding the subject of her book and put it as the leading sentence. I even specifically stated that this was done "for lack of better descriptive language" (i.e. find me some citations which clearly say something like, "This book is a history of Hinduism" or something of that nature. I could find no one describing the book as "personal" or "selective", and generally we don't use critical reviews to describe the subject of an article in the lead. That would be like if I changed the lead sentence of The Bible to "The Bible is a fictional book about magical creatures", and cited books by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. The lead off sentence is supposed to be a neutral description of the thing. What I replaced was that it's a book and who publishes it.
Regarding the "removal of quotes", I've asked you time and time again to justify their inclusion and you've simply ignored me. Additionally, I've asked you to concentrate on the work and not make it about the editors, something you continue to refuse to do. I'd be happy to move this to a more formal dispute resolution mechanism, though I suspect you might not like the results.0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 23:04, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
It is not a critical review. Those words are not used pejoratively. The even more expanded quote is: ""The habit of looking at oneself from the point of view of another's experience, if reciprocated by that other, represents a unique learning process. Doniger's book, because of its idiosyncrasy, functions as an active stimulus in that process. It provokes, one hopes, an inversely directed view, that of Hindu-inspired scholarship aiming at self-knowledge gained in the search for what is original and authentic in the West, exactly because it is not-Hindu. Inevitably, such efforts, however academically sound, are personal and, therefore, selective. Doniger's subtitle, An Alternative History, is a recognition of this fact. Scholarship, as a discussion without an end, cannot do otherwise than presenting tentative alternatives to what was said before. Wendy Doniger tells yet another version of the story, hers, because the story of human experience and creativity must be told, again and again, in ever new versions to various audiences. To emphasise this as it were, she has arranged her material in such a way that what emerges is not 'any single authoritative or essentialist view of what Hinduism is'. It would be an insult to the 'cultural masterpiece' that Hinduism is not to do justice to the pluralism, the 'simultaneous paradigms' and 'all the fusions that make up the rich mix of Hinduism' (pp. 29, 64, 86)." You are relentlessly advertising your ignorance of the subject matter and adding nonsensical content, (e.g. lead sentence, "The Hindus: An Alternative History is a book by American Indologist, Wendy Doniger which the author describes as an “alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell.” which is ungrammatical, vague, and uninformative. Again who are "they?" What is "Hindu history?" (Is it the form of narrating historical events in a largely ahistorical Hindu religious culture, or it is the history of Hinduism?) Fowler&fowler«Talk» 23:51, 18 February 2014 (UTC)
It sounded critical to me, but if you think it's not, that's fine. Either way, do we agree that it's not intended to be a description of the book? They are saying that her approach is necessarily personal and therefore selective. A "personal history" basically means a memoir (the Association of Personal Historians is an association supporting people who write memoirs, e.g.), and a "selective" history has a negative connotation in common parlance, like how if I said you have a "selective memory" it means that you only remember things that bolster your point. Additionally, the final bit of the sentence that it covers her "40 year career" makes it sound like the book is about her career, when in fact it is a history of Hinduism! The quote you have there describes qualities of the book and scholarship, and it seems like you are taking the words out of context to create some erroneous impression about the subject of the book.
I would also like to advise you, once again, to WP:FOC and stop attempting to impugn my abilities in some way. It is wholly irrelevant to the discussion how "ignorant" I am or am not. It adds nothing to the discussion. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 00:12, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Dispute resolution - can we agree on a set of disputes?[edit]

It is clear to me that @Fowler&fowler: has a specific view of how this article should go, I have another view as does @Goethian:. I have attempted many times to build consensus here but I'm finding @Fowler&fowler: intransigent and difficult to work with. I think the most productive thing to do is to boil this down to a set of disputes we have about the content of the article and move on with dispute resolution. I'm thinking either that we come up with the differences in opinion we have, then request a third opinion. If we can identify a single, specific issue, then we can go with an RfC instead. An alternative to this is to request a WP:Peer Review for the article to see what it is lacking. I don't think that will solve the issue that I believe @Fowler&fowler: is making this article much more POV than it needs to be.

Here are my primary issues with the article:

1. The extensive quotes. I really feel they are inappropriate, even when moved into the footnotes. @Fowler&fowler: suggested that they were "placeholders" at one point, but seems to now be advocating for their permanent inclusion in the article. Can you clarify your position on this matter, @Fowler&fowler:?

2. The lead sentence. Here is the old version:

The Hindus: An Alternative History is a book by American Indologist, Wendy Doniger, published by Viking Penguin in 2009. The 799-page book, a non-traditional, personal, and selective history, is a summation of Doniger's 40-year career as one of America's best-known and most prolific Indologists.

Here is my current version:

The Hindus: An Alternative History is a book by American Indologist Wendy Doniger, which the author describes as an “alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell.”

I would prefer a version that does not include the Doniger quote and is instead something more simply descriptive, like, "is a book by American Indologist Wendy Doniger which chronicles the history of Hinduism" or "is a revisionist history book by American Indologist Wendy Doniger about the history of Hinduism". I tried to find sources that describe the book in simple terms such as these, but the closest I could find was Doniger's own words, so I went with that. @Fowler&fowler:, what is your position on this general direction for the lead sentence?

Hopefully this part isn't controversial, but I would like to suggest also that the description of the book all go into the first sentence, with the publication information in the second sentence, no matter how we come down on this matter. Either way, keeping the page length should be problematic as well, as that is going to be edition-specific.

3. I can't be sure, but I get the sense that undue weight is being given to critical scholarly reviews. It's not clear to me that these are even secondary sources, but if they're the same as normal book reviews that's fine. Still, I think it's an issue with WP:SYNTH. I think that @Fowler&fowler: has created a juxtaposition of critical scholarly reviews with positive popular reviews to create the impression that this is not a serious academic work. I think that without secondary sources indicating that the book is not generally well-received in the academic community, this is just sneaky WP:OR.

@Fowler&fowler: - Please comment on these issues and add any of your own. I think the first step towards building a consensus is outlining the exact nature of our disputes.0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 00:03, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

I'm hardly the one who is intransigent. I'm the content creator. I know more about this than the people who have thus far edited this page, who have all the time in the world for dispute resolutions, but still haven't read any reviews, relying on nonsense in popular newspapers. (I don't have the time for dispute resolutions. What are they going to do? Ban me? WP is incidental to my life anyway. It is clear from my editing history that I have created more India- and even Hinduism-related content than the sum total of everyone else who are champing at the bit to argue with me.) You are wasting my time. I work in a certain way. I add quotes in the beginning and then integrate them into text. You assume AGF. No one in my long history on Wikipedia has ever accused me of bias, certainly not of being a Hindu nationalist. Your relentless arguing here and in the edit summaries makes it difficult for me to edit. (Since you started editing this page six hours ago, I have made 3 edits; you have made 12) A summation of a career doesn't mean that the book is about the career, but a summation of the themes developed by her in her career. I was about to write, "In it, Doniger revisits the themes of the tensions between asceticism and eroticism; bhakti; brahmin, male, monopoly on history writing; the exclusion of the narratives of women, outcasts and about animals, etc." But you didn't let me. "they" by the way, refers to high-caste Hindu males. Is that obvious? No it is not. Again, stop wasting my time with frivolous drama. If you don't let me create content in peace, I will be forced to create it off-line (and waste more of my time than I want to) and then add it here with impeccable sources in one edit.
In fact, that is what I will do. Meanwhile, you can keep wikilawyering here endlessly to yourself. Good bye until I have a finished text. Don't bother to reply. I won't be reading. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 01:18, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
That seems like it would be counter-productive. We're all "content creators" here, you don't own this article. Feel free to work "offline" and I really hope that you do come back with some beautiful, well-sourced text with which I have no disputes. I feel that it is unlikely that the version you produce in isolation with no consultation from other editors will be able to achieve a consensus for inclusion, though. Since you don't seem to be interested in even defining the problem, chances are you won't be able to come up with a solution to it. All I'm trying to do is build a consensus for what to include in the article. If you know so much more than everyone else who edits the article, I welcome your input, please inform us and show us why we are wrong. I've already outlined the places that I believe we disagree, so a good starting point for someone with your obvious expertise would be to try and resolve those differences. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 03:46, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
This is a bigger doozy than I'd thought. Here are some of the many definitions Wendy Doniger gives of her alternative history starting on page 1:

"First, it highlights a narrative alternative to the one constituted by the most famous texts in Sanskrit (the literary language of ancient India) and represented in most surveys in English. It tells a story that incorporates the narratives of and about alternative people— people who, from the standpoint of most high -caste Hindu males, are alternative in the sense of otherness, people of other religions, or cultures, or castes, or species (animals), or gender (women). Part of my agenda in writing an alternative history is to show how much the groups that conventional wisdom says were oppressed and silenced and played no part in the development of the tradition —women, Pariahs (oppressed castes, sometimes called Untouchables)— did actually contribute to Hinduism. My hope is not to reverse or misrepresent the hierarchies, which remain stubbornly hierarchical, or to deny that Sanskrit texts were almost always subject to a final filter in the hands of the male Brahmins (the highest of the four social classes, the class from which priests were drawn) who usually composed and preserved them. .... Second, in addition to focusing on a special group of actors, I have concentrated on a few important actions, several of which are also important to us today : nonviolence toward humans (particularly religious tolerance) and toward animals (particularly vegetarianism and objections to animal sacrifice) and the tensions between the householder life and renunciation, and between addiction and the control of sensuality. ... Third, this book attempts to set the narrative of religion within the narrative of history, as a linga (an emblem of the god Shiva, often representing his erect phallus) is set in a yoni (the symbol of Shiva’s consort, or the female sexual organ), or any statue of a Hindu god in its base or plinth ( pitha). I have organized the topics historically in order to show not only how each idea is a reaction to ideas that came before (as any good old-fashioned philological approach would do) ....

it continues this way for 13 pages, when on page 13 it says, "Hindus nowadays are diverse in their attitude to their own diversity, which inspires pride in some, anxiety in others. In particular, it provokes anxiety in those Hindus who are sometimes called Hindu nationalists, or the Hindu right, or right-wing Hindus, or the Hindutva (“ Hinduness”) faction, or, more approximately, Hindu fundamentalists; they are against Muslims, Christians, and the Wrong Sort of Hindus. Their most powerful political organ is the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), with its militant branch, the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), but they are also involved in groups such as Hindu Human Rights, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, and the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad). I will generally refer to them as the Hindutva faction or the Hindu right. This book is also alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell." The "they," it turns out, are Hindu nationalists! So, what has user:0x0etc done, he has summarized that complex nuanced view of 13 pages by picking out the last sentence and leaving out "also!" Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:30, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
It is not even an accurate summary of the popular newspaper article it cites. Mr Pankaj Mishra, no expert on Hinduism or precis writing, has already distorted Doniger's more nuanced view into:

Doniger sets herself the ambitious task of writing “a narrative alternative to the one constituted by the most famous texts in Sanskrit.” As she puts it, “It’s not all about Brahmins, Sanskrit, the Gita.” It’s also not about perfidious Muslims who destroyed innumerable Hindu temples and forcibly converted millions of Indians to Islam. Doniger, who cannot but be aware of the political historiography of Hindu nationalists, the most powerful interpreters of Indian religions in both India and abroad today, also wishes to provide an “alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell.”

user:0x0etc has summarized that as: The book is an "alternative to the narrative of Hindu history they tell" without the "also!" (and, of course, without the more important things said earlier or identifying that the "they" are Hindu nationalists) I give up. I'm outa here. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:35, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
First off, that's all from a primary source, I was taking the quote directly from a secondary source which was quoting her describing her own work. I didn't cut out the "also". Everything has to come from secondary sources. Second, if you had read my edit summary or my detailed explanation above, you'd have realized that this is not my preferred wording. I offered alternatives but I am having trouble finding secondary sources to verify them. Why are you picking the one thing I specifically said I don't want in the article to harp on? 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 03:41, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I've been going through the recent diffs, but comparing these two, I think both are acceptable. Can't they be joined? Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 12:04, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I really don't see how they can be joined, do you have any specific suggestions? I've detailed my reasoning for the change in the lead sentence in point #2 above, so I won't repeat it here. I've also detailed my reasoning for the change in the second paragraph of the lead I think 1 or 2 sections above this one, but since it's buried kinda deep I will repeat it here.
The second paragraph of the lead, as written before, went into way too much detail about the lawsuit, it was almost as long as the section on the lawsuit itself. The lead should be a general overview of it's in the rest of the article, to give people a flavor of it. The way it had been written before had details not found anywhere else in the article even - the age of the person who brought the lawsuit, for example. I also think it is a bit POV - if you look at the mass of secondary sources on the free speech issue, no one is saying "the book was withdrawn from the Indian market by the Indian publisher but you can still get the import version and the Kindle version", the story from every news organization is, "there was a lawsuit, the book was withdrawn by the publisher, many people are concerned about the free speech implications of this action." If we have secondary sources covering the story from the first angle, from my perspective, I'd say that would be worthwhile to put in as balance in the section on the lawsuit itself, but to put it in the lead like it was would give the view undue weight, given that it is an uncommon perspective.
That said, I would like to move some of those citations out of the lead and into the main body of the article. Do you have any other concrete suggestions about how these should be "joined" in a way that addresses my concerns? 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 12:58, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Removal of quotes[edit]

Is anyone opposed to the removal of the quotes from the footnotes? Please comment as to why you'd like to keep them. I think they are taking up space in the article and in the references section (they're about half the page), they don't need to be there, and such large excerpts from these articles is borderline WP:COPYVIO. The text is available in the references, as per usual. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 03:53, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Indented line

@0x0077BE: I agree. I strongly believe from my NPOV that the quotes should be removed as per Wikipedia:COPYVIO and WP:QUOTEFARM as the article and wikipedian editors must comply with Wikipedia's Terms of Use. Furthermore as per this article's case, needs to be consistent with other pages of similar content material and therefore resemble Wikipedia:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article; examples, such as A History of Western Philosophy, Guns, Germs, and Steel, amongst others as accessible on Wikipedia:WikiProject Books/Non-fiction article. @Fowler&fowler:, Wikipedia and Wikipedians are thankful for your contribution of being part of the team to help bring forth (new) information, edit, and sourcing information in WP:AGF ... but I would hope that you do understand that you're information from your perspective is just as greatly appreciated as much as the next person. You may certainly know more about a topic but it comes down to your views on the subject and that view can sometimes get clouded when we are passionate about a topic which can unwittingly make make us biased rather than abiding with Wikipedia's WP:NPOV. It's great that you are hardly the one who is intransigent! I am sure we can come to a consensus. :) --lilpiglet 10:54, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Is this OK?[edit]

In the book, Doniger analyses the birth of Hinduism in the background of worship of sex organs and book is developed through a "re-telling of the past". This is the sentence I added when I started the article, hoping that other editors will improve/revise this particular sentance. But it is still there, without much changes. Does this sentence summarises appropriately? Other edits, kindly comment. Rayabhari (talk) 17:06, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

No. The book might be better described as a series of essays which traces the history of Hindu culture, including literature, art, and religious practice, from its roots in Indian prehistory to the present day. — goethean 17:24, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
Do we have any reliable secondary sources which are a simple description of the book? The Penguin website description of the book reads more like advertising copy, and none of the major book reviews I've seen have any sort of description of what's in the book, per se, more about the implications. For now I think we might have to just deal with not having them and go with @Goethean:'s description of what it is. We can retool that for the lead sentence, too, maybe something like:
The Hindus: An Alternative History is a [revisionist] history book released in 2009 by American Indologist, Wendy Doniger, consisting of a series of essays [on/following] the history of Hindu culture.
I'm not really sure if it's considered "revisionist" history - that term originally had some negative connotation but I've heard it used as a self-applied label as well, so I don't know how controversial it would be to include that without a citation. Based on her statements and the fact that the subtitle is "An Alternative History", it seems possible that it applies, but it could also be that the "alternative" simply refers to the fact that it's the same story told from a different angle or something similar to that. I think the book description and the lead-in sentence are strongly linked, so I think working out the wording of the book description and finding secondary sources to support it will lead directly into solving the lead problem. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 18:58, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
It is not a series of essays, unless any history is. The periodization is fairly conventional, and the narration chronological. It is non-traditional in the sense that it attempts to study historical change by emphasizing study of changing religious texts, myths and legends, especially those in which the commonly excluded (women, lower castes and animals) are in a central role or are an important presence. I've been re-reading different chapters of the book. I'm coming around to the view that it is primarily for a Western, especially American, readership. The India edition of Doniger's book should have had part of Kipling's prelude in Departmental Ditties and Barrackroom Ballads in its dedication, "I've written the story of (your) lives, For a sheltered people's mirth, In jesting guise, but ye are wise, And ye know what the jest is worth." The problem with attempting to write "alternative history" by telling and retelling the changing tales is that, such narratives, and especially the interpretations therein, are unconstrained by artifacts (which keep art historians grounded), inscriptions (which keep historians grounded) or patients (which keep (physician) psychoanalysts grounded). The psychoanalysis, incidentally, is the pre-1940 variety, the innovations of a Heinz Kohut, Arnold Goldberg, Jerome Kavka, Michael Franz Basch, or others at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, just five miles away, are all conspicuously absent.) Not sure that I should be wasting my time on this page. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 20:54, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
There are plenty of Westernized Indians, in fact any Indian who is going to be buying this book will be presumably highly Westernized. Your Kipling reference is, as usual, opaque. — goethean 21:57, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
This is not a forum for discussing the book. We've had quite enough drama on this page without getting into a discussion about the merits of the book. Let's just find some secondary sources to substantiate the book description and for the mean time agree on a neutral description of the book for the lead. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 22:06, 19 February 2014 (UTC)
I didn't say "westernized," only "western." Westernized Indians are, in general, not as clueless about their own culture as the readership Doniger is writing for. As for the secondary sources, I, who have all of them, won't be watching this draft by File:KeystoneKops.jpg evolve. Doniger, apparently, forgot to include the old Indian tale of Blind men and an elephant in her history, even though it has two of the three ingredients of an alternative tale (it has the disregarded and an animal). All the best. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 22:40, 19 February 2014 (UTC)

Delete, comment in wrong place.Arnold Rothstein1921 (talk) 15:45, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Title change?[edit]

I came to this article for information about the book, and there's really nothing here. Wouldn't it be better to change the title to "The Hindus: An Alternative History (Controversy)" or some such? Arnold Rothstein1921 (talk) 15:07, 23 April 2014 (UTC)

The article is a work in progress. Feel free to contribute to it if you can. Thanks. — goethean 15:10, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
The title of this article is exactly what it should be. It is an article about a book, not about a controversy about the book; the controversy is mentioned as only one aspect of the response to the book. There is no good reason to change the article's name. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 23:16, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
The book was published in 2009. Until early February 2014, it had insufficient notability, in Wikipedia terms, to merit its own page. Then the controversy erupted. A page was created. As it is a page about a book, it should certainly contain a precis of the content. But, of necessity, the controversy around the book, the overriding factor of its present-day notability, will have to comprise the bulk of the text. Distributing the emphasis of content otherwise would violate Wikipedia's policy of due weight. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 23:54, 23 April 2014 (UTC)
I didn't suggest anything one way or the other about what the emphasis of content here should be here; I simply pointed out that there's no need to rename the article. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 00:04, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
@FreeKnowledgeCreator:, sorry, I was tired and may have misinterpreted what you said. No disagreement with you. Thanks for clarifying. I agree. There is no reason to change the title. Best regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:45, 24 April 2014 (UTC)
Title as present is appropriate. Changing of title of the article not necessary. If required, the section "controversy" may be developed to add updates. And, yes, the general contents needs improvement. - Rayabhari (talk) 10:40, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for responses, but this article is clearly not conforming with Wikipedia's standard for book articles:

I urge you to get some content about the book itself up here very quickly. Thank you.Arnold Rothstein1921 (talk) 23:12, 29 April 2014 (UTC)

WP:SOFIXIT comes to mind. --NeilN talk to me 23:15, 29 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm not familiar with the book, which is why I have come here for information about it. The only fix I could do would be to propose it for deletion. (talk) 04:04, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
Volunteers haven't provided enough info to meet your wants so you want to delete it? Sounds sensible. The standard for an article's existence is notability, not completeness. --NeilN talk to me 04:43, 30 April 2014 (UTC)
If you check the specific notability standard for books, you'll see that the article has to grow past "a simple plot summary." In this case, the article doesn't even have a simple declarative sentence of what the book is about. As I said above, you might have an article that addresses the controversy, but not one that addresses the book itself. There's about 10,000 words of discussion above this, so doesn't it make sense that someone should be able to say what the book is about in 100 words?Arnold Rothstein1921 (talk) 17:54, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
“...alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell.” It has grown past a simple plot summary (there wouldn't be a plot anyways). I agree there should be more about the contents of the book but having a minimal description is no reason to delete. --NeilN talk to me 18:11, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
@Arnold Rothstein1921: I see what you are saying. In my view, before the controversy began, the book was not notable enough to have its own Wikipedia page. In fact, it didn't have a page for more than three years after being published in 2009. I was happy to have the discussion confined to Wendy Doniger, but someone else created the book page. I agree the name of the page should be changed to The Hindus: An Alternative History (Controversy). Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:16, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
140 google scholar hits — plenty notable. — goethean 18:29, 1 May 2014 (UTC)
I disagree that the book was not notable enough for an article before the controversy began. Plenty of reviews pre-date that. [1], [2] Obviously I disagree with the name change as well. --NeilN talk to me 18:33, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── In that case, since I see that you @NeilN: created the page, why did you wait for the controversy to erupt, and then after creating the page by copying and pasting what already was on Wendy Doniger then, why have you not added the basic content required in a book page? See for example the The Mimic Men, which I created recently. I should add that I have both Doniger's book and the critical literature. @Arnold Rothstein1921: I was going to add basic content to the page, but as you'll glean in the discussion upstairs, other editors, fearing that I was out to excoriate Doniger, didn't let me. But, typically for Wikipedia, when I left the discussion, they lost the incentive to edit the article. See, for example, the section above, Dispute resolutions: can we agree on a set of disputes?: the lead sentence as I had edited it, had stood: "The Hindus: An Alternative History is a book by American Indologist, Wendy Doniger, published by Viking Penguin in 2009. The 799-page book, a non-traditional, personal, and selective history, is a summation of Doniger's 40-year career as one of America's best-known and most prolific Indologists." That distilled sentenced was based on impeccable sources. In retrospect, I should have said, "... is a summation of the themes developed in Doniger's 40-year career ...," explicitly, although this is implicit in what I do say. To that sentence, I was going to add (as I say above), the sentence: "In it, Doniger revisits the themes of the tensions between asceticism and eroticism; bhakti; brahmin, male, monopoly on history writing; the exclusion of the narratives of women, outcasts and those of or about animals." Instead, by using nothing other that edit warring, other editors have left in the current version: "The Hindus: An Alternative History is a book by American Indologist Wendy Doniger, which the author describes as an “alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell." The "they," who do the telling, it turns out, are Hindu nationalists. Doniger has written a 13 odd page introduction in which the Hindu nationalists are mentioned towards the very end. In the first 12 pages other descriptions of the book abound. What Doniger says on page 13 is: "I will generally refer to them as the Hindutva faction or the Hindu right. This book is also alternative to the narrative of Hindu history that they tell." Amazingly, in this article, the "also" has been left out, and the book is being described as entirely a response to the Hindu right! The problem with Wikipedia is that, people, often clueless about the subject matter, are quick to cite chapter and verse for why they have the right to edit a topic as much as one more knowledgeable, but when you say, "OK, you edit it," they flounder. Not a single word has been added to the article after I left it. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:07, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Fowler&fowler, before writing all that, you should have double checked your facts. I did not create the page. [3] --NeilN talk to me 01:18, 2 May 2014 (UTC)
My apologies, I did mistake your post on Talk:Wendy Doniger informing the editors there about the existence of this page to mean that you had created the page. I have scratched the first few sentences addressed specifically to you. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:35, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

Fowler, thanks for your lengthy reply - it at least directed me to material above that should be in the article. For what it's worth, my impression while making my few comments here has been that many of the people involved here lack the expertise to be useful on this topic. Also, the partial quote in the current first sentence is so clunky that any proficient reader of English would immediately wonder what the rest of the article could contain. You have my sympathy.Arnold Rothstein1921 (talk) 15:51, 2 May 2014 (UTC)

No one has suggested any practical advantage to using a different title. To give it the title Rothstein suggests would arbitrarily limit the scope of the article, for no good reason. Consensus to move the article clearly does not exist, and this discussion already has become a waste of time. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 01:11, 4 May 2014 (UTC)
Agreed, I don't think the title will be changing any time soon. Regarding the description of the book, I spent way too much time looking for a reliable source that concisely describes what the book is, and settled for a quote from one of the reviews. It was my explicit suggestion that someone find a justifiable, concise description of the book, preferably one with a reliable source. It's all well and good to complain about how poor the opening statement in the article is, but it's not like anyone is wedded to this particular wording, so by all means have at it. 0x0077BE [talk/contrib] 01:20, 7 May 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia formalism run mad[edit]

When I - not knowing a thing about the book - read the Wikipedia entry, I end up still not knowing anything about it. In my opinion a Wikipedia entry of a book should contain a summary of the main points that the book is trying to make and list the main points of criticism that have been made in such a way that the reader can understand what both sides mean.

The present article and also the Talk section remind me of the Catholic theology at the end of the Middle Ages when it became obsessed with senseless and formalistic questions like how many angels fit on the point of a needle. (talk) 10:57, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b c d Ali & Aitchison 2005.
  2. ^ Dikshit & Schwartzberg, p. 7.
  3. ^ Prakash et al. 2000.
  4. ^ Dikshit & Schwartzberg, p. 11.