Talk:Wendy Doniger

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University web site or back of book biography are not reliable sources for a biogaphy[edit]

I don't really have that much interest left in this article, but I'd like to say that a university website (e.g. Committee on Social Thought at U of C) is not a reliable source, as it has not been independently verified by a second party. Similarly, the short biography in the back of a book is not reliable either. Both are short versions of the CV, ultimately the creation of the professor/author. To source biographical details accurately, you need a proper biography of Doniger by another author (I don't know if one exists) or, if you can find some volume of papers honoring her: those typically have an introduction written by someone else with a short biography. For example, I've seen that bit about Martha Graham and Balanchine in her book biographies since the late 1970s, but I have no idea what that means: did she take a few classes with them? Did she take years of classes with them? Did she tour with their company? ... Regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:42, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Fowler, I have great respect for you but you seriously couldn't have thought of pushing *that* angle? This is not citizendium and your opinion on what passes as reliable and what does not cannot and must not be taken seriously, especially when related to 'Indologism' - a field that that is criticized for this exact behavior of nipping the careers of dissenters in the bud via journal rejection. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 115.113.118.50 (talk) 08:41, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

Doniger's characterization of Indian law inaccurate[edit]

Regarding withdrawal of her book, the Hindus, the Wikipedia article states that she said that "they [Penguin India] were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece – the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu."

This is inaccurate. I added a comment on March 3rd stating "[h]owever, journalist Jyoti Punwani of the Indian Express, questioned Doniger's comments on Indian law as applying only to offending Hindus, by noting that "Why did Doniger, who must be familiar with the section under which her book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, was sought to be banned, describe a law which applies to all faiths as one that applies only to Hindus?" However, this was reverted by Goethean as not noteworthy. I think it is notable that if Doniger can characterize an Indian law, who is to say that she cannot misinterpret Hindu texts? Raj2004 (talk) 01:53, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

You and the journalist have misunderstood Doniger. Doniger is citing one instance or application of the law. She's not describing the law in all its generality. Such casual language is used all the time in common parlance. For example if I say, "The new law makes it criminal for a man to drink on a Sunday," I don't mean that the new law doesn't apply to women. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 02:32, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
The use of word man to refer to mankind is a specific case and indefensible here. If someone wants to mention her opinion on Indian Law, it must be mentioned that her opinion is wrong. Though, I agree that the whole quotation is in bad taste should be copy edited. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 115.113.118.50 (talk) 12:22, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
OK, I've fixed it in an NPOV way. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:06, 7 March 2014 (UTC)


Fowler, thank you for the edits. This version by you is acceptable, and NPOV. Raj2004 (talk) 17:35, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Recent revert[edit]

I have reinstated the content that you removed [1]. The reason you gave - "rm non-notable opinion" is questionable. Here is the text in the article: "A philologist trained in the Orientalist tradition, Doniger leans towards textual Sanskrit and north India, despite her claim that she is a recovering, if not a repentant, Orientalist." The literal meaning of the above quotation is that it is Wendy Doniger who claims she is a "recovering, if not repentant" orientalist, not the author's. Author's claim is that her text leans towards textual Sanskrit. That might look like 'non-notable' opinion to you (which in turn is non-notable, but here I am defending the author), but that is not what is being said so please don't remove text willy-nilly without any basis.

I would also like to add that the whole sentence reads: "In the popular press, the book has received many positive reviews...", so, unless you want to remove all the mention of all positive reviews and praises she got, you ought not to remove negative opinions from the same author. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 106.51.202.34 (talkcontribs) 17:50 7 March 2014

The lead summarizes the article. See WP:LEAD. We do not introduce new material into the lead. — goethean 15:20, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Fair enough. I have added the text to correct section. Next time try to do that yourself.
I don't help people assassinate the reputations of scholars. — goethean 17:52, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
But of course only if they have the same pov in certain matters. If not it is quite ok to asssassinate them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Goethean/Hindu_Nazis [2] --Clapkidaq (talk) 17:28, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
She says she is repentant orientalist. If you think that is a character assasination attempt, you need to get away from this article and never return. That is the most polite I can be to you,— Preceding unsigned comment added by 106.51.202.34 (talkcontribs) 18:15, 7 March 2014‎
IP: I have undone the out-of-context sentence you just added. The recovering orientalist bit is said humorously and self-deprecatingly. It is not a serious self-evaluation, doesn't matter how many people quote it. Also, next time, please learn to sign your name. It is not my job to clean up after you by adding the subst:unsigned template. It makes it difficult for others to figure out where your post ends and where another begins. If you don't know, please note that four tildes (~~~~) constitutes an editor's signature. In your case, since you have not registered your account, your IP address will appear as your signature. Best regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:31, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't get it but there seems to be some sort of telepathic understanding between what she says and what she means that only you understood. The reference comes from jstor (reputable, notable). It is widely known about her that she was orientalist but now is not. Can you point me one reason why that text should not be there (and if not, where should it go), because it is sourced, widely quoted and will be mentioned. Btw, thanks for the signature thingy, I didn't know that.--106.51.202.34 (talk) 18:42, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It is widely known? Orientalists lived in the 19th century. some even in the late 18th. She's not that old. This is as far as I go with arguing with you. You can take it to dispute resolution if you'd like. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 18:45, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

No 21st century scholar would seriously call themselves an Orientalist. That would be like a computer programmer calling himself a "re-bugger" or something. It is a joke that only someone unfamiliar with the field would not get. See also: Orientalism (book). — goethean 18:48, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

I am sorry but criticism of orientalism only started with e. said that was in 1978 so not 100s of years ago. And he quotes people still alive for his examples so there goes your argument. @goethean: I am sure no 21st centrury scholar would seriously call themselves an orientalist, but she still refered to herself and thank you, there is no inner joke here because you don't know how familiar I am with the field.--106.51.202.34 (talk) 18:53, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
@Fowler&fowler, are you being deliberately facetious? Orientalism is an idea and not a historical profession that is out of fashion.--106.51.202.34 (talk) 18:57, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Anyway, I've added the full quote from The Hindus: An alternative history, which provides the context for the use of orientalist. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 19:04, 7 March 2014 (UTC)
Thanks--106.51.202.34 (talk) 19:06, 7 March 2014 (UTC)

Revert by Fowler of the addition of commentary criticizing the left by Professor Juluri[edit]

The revert of my addition citing Professor Julori based on that he is professor of media studies and writes on Huffington Post shows hypocrisy. For example, Mr. Fowler makes this statement by citing Indian authors such as Arundhati Roy, Partha Chatterjee, Jeet Thayil, and Namwar Singh inveighed against the decision. The cite is to the Times of India and many of the critics are just writers, not professors of South Asian studies. If my addition is reverted, then so should that citation of Roy et al. Otherwise, I view this article as nothing more than a left-wing rant.

Raj2004 (talk) 20:30, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

The sentence about Arundhati Roy etc was not added by me. In any case it has been in the text for over a month. Those edits have a different standard for challenging than recent ones such as yours. Again please read WP:BRD. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 20:40, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Ok, I agree. But then I think the addition of Arundhati Roy and other authors is just as much irrelevant as Professor Julori. I still think if the ones about the authors are added, then I have justification about adding the section about Professor Julori. In fact, he is just as relevant as other authors but he doesn't agree with Fowler's world view.

If you look at his bio, (https://www.usfca.edu/facultydetails.aspx?id=4294969545) his "research interest is in the globalization of media audiences with an emphasis on Indian television and cinema, mythology, religion, violence and Gandhian philosophy(emphasis added). So, on that note, he is probably more relevant that Roy and any of those left-wing writers. Fowler, please review and let me know. And also that cite of Roy used the Times of India, etc., which is clearly not an academic publication. So Fowler's criticism of my using the Huffington Post is groundless.

Raj2004 (talk) 23:18, 8 March 2014 (UTC)

Again, a scholarly article is not an article written by a professor, but one published in a scholarly journal or a book/monograph brought out by an academic press. Huffington Post is not a scholarly journal. Please see Wikipedia:RS#Some_types_of_sources, which states unambiguously: "When available, academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs, and textbooks are usually the most reliable sources." I don't particularly care whether the sentence about Arundhati Roy is included or not, but I'm quite adamant that the tendentious, defensive or bigoted articles on Doniger, both laudatory and critical, by various people in the popular press, self-published sources or books published by little known publishing houses are not going in. Until you produce such scholarly criticism of Doniger, you are wasting both your time and mine. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:05, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

PS And Juluri's PhD, btw, is in Communication, not Sanskrit, Philology, Linguistics, Indology, or any field that remotely overlaps Doniger's field of expertise. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 00:11, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

No, it is quite common in the academic world that PhDs in one field research in multiple fields. As I point out, his area of research is in the globalization of media, with particular emphasis on mythology, religion, etc. Certainly more relevant to the issues concerning Doniger's alleged inaccuracies than writers such as Roy and Thayil, who have no academic background whatsoever. Also the two cites to these writers are the Times of India and Bihar Prabha, newspapers, which are no more academic than Huffington Post. I am asking for true fairness and civility, and not adhering to your pro-Doniger point of view.

Either the references to Roy and Julori should be both removed or they be kept. I don't think that there is any middle ground if you want fairness here.

Please read the full link (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vamsee-juluri/the-scholars-an-alternati_b_4787082.html) and review.

Raj2004 (talk) 00:26, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Like I said, I don't care whether the sentence about Roy goes in or not, but the polemical piece by Juluri (note spelling of his name) is not going in. You may try to reach consensus with the people who added the Roy sentence in order to remove it. I wasn't that person, so I cannot speak on their behalf. This is my final reply to your repetitive posts. Best regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 01:01, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
PS And I know a thing or two about academics. A PhD in Communications does not an Indologist make even in the 21st century. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 01:03, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Of course. But I think that some Hindus with a Phd. in communications knows far more about Hinduism that a non-Hindu with a Ph.D. in Harvard who has no background in Hinduism. It like saying a Christian person with a Ph.D. in Islamic studies being more of an expert on certain areas of Islam. I am tired of your rant! I was trying to be civil but you denigrate my criticism with terming it "repetitive posts." YOU SHOULD APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR UNCIVIL BEHAVIOR

Raj2004 (talk) 01:21, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

I have placed this talk section for Third Party resolution, as I want someone who is neutral to take a fair and balanced look. Thank you.

Raj2004 (talk) 01:26, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia guidelines place no premium on the religious beliefs (or lack thereof) of the author of a source, only on the reliability of the source, which, in a scholarly one, require a peer-review by other scholars and publication by an academic publisher. Juluri has no such authority. He is a professor of communication studies, with no expertise in Hinduism, who writes a op-ed piece every now and then in Huff Post. Examples of scholarly reviews of The Hindus: An Althernative History by Doniger are:

Those reviewers even when they disagree with Doniger or are critical of Doniger have high praise for her scholarship. For example, K. M. Shrimali, Professor of Ancient Indian History at the University of Delhi says in his review:

... it also happened to be the year when her first major work in early India's religious history, viz., Siva, the Erotic Ascetic was published and had instantly become a talking point for being a path-breaking work. I still prescribe it as the most essential reading to my postgraduate students at the University of Delhi, where I have been teaching a compulsory course on 'Evolution of Indian Religions' for the last nearly four decades. It was the beginning of series of extremely fruitful and provocative encounters with the formidable scholarship of Wendy Doniger.

Best regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 03:42, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for the links and for providing the articles. I could not open some of the links. Raj2004 (talk) 12:21, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

They require a subscription. If you don't have one, you'll need to go to a library. The main point is that this the Wendy Doniger page.
The Hindus: An Alternative History has its own page. I have myself added the scholarly criticism there. Doniger is one of the best-known and influential scholars of Sanskrit and Indian textual traditions of the last 50 years. Most of her most influential work was done before 1991, long before either the Hindu right became assertive with the destruction of the Babri Masjid or the Non-Resident Hindu Indians in the US, such as businessman Rajiv Malhotra, began to publicize their unhappiness with Doniger in non-scholarly or self-published sources. In other words, Doniger is a scholar of much longer standing and wider range than just one book or one ideological issue. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 12:39, 9 March 2014 (UTC)


Yes, the problem with critics like you, is that every criticism of Doniger is simply classified as "a criticism by the Hindu right," when many critics are not members of the Hindu right, such as many members from the Hindu American Foundation, who are critical of Doniger but have liberal views on gays and gay marriage, consistent with Hindu theology, we are not the body but the soul, and ultimately, sexual orientation is not a sin per see, but we must transcend earthly matters (heterosexual or homosexual) in order to attain moksha. The use of any legitimate criticism of Doniger, as a criticism by the Hindu right, is simply an Ad hominem attack. Yes, some critics may be on the Hindu right, but certainly not all.

I understand the reasons for citing scholars with peer-reviewed articles, which is certainly reasonably, but the reality is that the overwhelming majority (close to 100%) of scholars in Hindu studies belong to the neo-colonial model (i.e., the left frankly), looking at Hindu texts with Western tools, for some reasons, to denigrate Hinduism, or have no agenda at all.

Honestly, there is no "liberal" left, as both right and left have become illiberal (see http://www.firstpost.com/india/pulping-doniger-dont-just-blame-the-right-the-left-paved-this-illiberal-road-1385645.html), as nobody wants to really listen to both sides of the argument.

But there are experts who may not have the formal "Ph.D" degree who are well-qualified, by training in Vedic gurukula schools an the like, who are apt to criticize Doniger. But such experts obviously don't publish in Western journals.

Raj2004 (talk) 14:07, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Whether or not your characterization is correct, we as editors have to abide by the policies and guidelines of Wikipedia. If you feel that Wikipedia policies unfavorably bias the encyclopedia towards Western perspectives, you are welcome to pursue that discussion in the relevant Wikipedia forum. This page is only about improvement to the Wendy Doniger page, not the wider issues. Best regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 14:27, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Understood. Which Wikipedia forum could I mention my concerns? Best regards, Raj2004 (talk) 14:48, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Please see Wikipedia:WikiProject Countering systemic bias and its talk page. Even if Hinduism studies does not have as many Indian scholars publishing in international journals, Indian History, Sociology, and Anthropology certainly does. Not just older ones such as Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, and M. N. Srinivas, but also Muzaffar Alam, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Arjun Appadurai, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Gyanendra Pandey, Veena Das, Andre Beteille, ... Unfortunately, the Indian-American ideological critics, especially those from the "Indic studies" perspective as voiced by Rajiv Malhotra, have yet to produce such scholarship in any of these fields. Best regards, Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:07, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
PS I just remembered, Hinduism studies did have an Indian in the late Bimal Krishna Matilal, who was in fact at the University of Chicago in the early 80s along with Doniger and who had the same PhD advisor at Harvard as Doniger. As far as I'm aware he made no such criticism of Doniger. Fowler&fowler«Talk» 15:09, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

According to the Wikipedia article on the late professor Matilal, his research interests include "Indian systems of logic, particularly Nyaya-Vaishesika, Mimamsa and Buddhist philosophy," so he would not have any reason to criticize Doniger, because he is in a different sub-specialty. Raj2004 (talk) 15:40, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

Why use Wikipedia to plug a future book sale?[edit]

"in her forthcoming Norton anthology of primary Hindu writings (releasing in November 2014)"

Wow thats was certainly sly yet effective way of advertising, bravo!92.236.1.113 (talk) 16:53, 5 June 2014 (UTC)catnose

I hope it will be as good as her erudite Vedic commentary, "Tales of Sex and Violence" (1985) Shii (tock) 20:01, 5 June 2014 (UTC)