Friday, September 11, 2009

Wikipedia essay is overly unbalanced towards spiritual philosophy

Looking to improve Sri Aurobindo's biography
Alan, I have interacted with you before on occasions, specifically on articles related to Integral Yoga and Sri Aurobindo. I wish to undertake the project of improving the article on Sri Aurobindo to A-class from its current category of C-class biography. It is I understand not an easy task given what you consider Wikipedia's materialistc bias, and what I consider an Occidental bias. I wish to enlist your support in this endeavor and hope that you would enthusiastically contribute to such improvement. Thanks.Varun (talk) 15:21, 25 May 2009 (UTC)
Alan, Thanks for your reply. You are right about the high quality scholarship that would be needed for the upgrade( Can only wish Peter Heehs was contributing to Wikipedia ). I am currently making efforts to enlist help from other sources also, will keep you updated about it. Thanks for your offer for help and best of luck for your book. -Varun (talk) 10:15, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
From talk page of Sri Aurobindo's article Peter Heehs (2006) 'The uses of Sri Aurobindo: mascot, whipping-boy, or what?', Postcolonial Studies, 9:2, 151 - 164
I have a copy in pdf, and if you want i can email it to you. Regards M Alan Kazlev (talk) 05:22, 31 December 2007 (UTC) . Do you still possess this? If so do you mind sharing this article? Varun (talk) 15:32, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Sri Aurobindo's biography
hi Varun
At the moment unfortunately I am really immersed in writing my own book. So sure I'm happy to help, but it can only be part time, and we need other people as well.
The problem with the wiki page as it is now is that it is presented in a very "devotional" manner. By that I mean it says stuff like "according to Sri Aurobindo (such and such)" but then there are very few references or footnotes at the end of each statement. I added a few a while back, but it needs heaps more. To make it more academic, each paragraph, and often sentences, should be accompanied by page references to The Life Divine and other major works. But i'm not the sort of person who can cite chapter and verse, so we need people who are familar with page by page and chapter by chapter content of Sri Aurobindo's collected works.
There is also a strong need for more references/footnotes in the biography section. I'll add some when i have more time.
Also, the influence of Sri Aurobindo's philosophy, at the end of the page, is in strong need of developing. I'll try to add some more material there as well.
The page also seems to be unbalanced, in that a very large amount of space is devoted to Sri Aurobindo's teachings, and this could be transferred to separate pages on his difefrent major works. I had originally put up these as individual pages but as is typical of Wikipedia - and i totally agree with you, it suffers from an occidental bias as well as a materialistic bias - these had to be merged into a single big page (Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo). I think that we could easily restore them tpo individual pages, but to do that we would need to find third party refernces and citations. And that is where academic scholarship is useful. If you know of good third party references, reviews etc that would be great.
I would certainly like to see several qualified people working on this page. Do you know of anyone else who would be interested in collaborating on this project? M Alan Kazlev (talk) 00:31, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

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This page is supposed to be a biography enough to convey an essence, and not a lengthy discourse on each of his activities. These can be shifted to their own main articles - Varun (talk) 12:18, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
I agree with Varun. There should be a brief summary of Sri Aurobindo's ideas, with each section linking to longer secondary pages on each of these topics. Unfortunately, the Western materialistic consensus paradigm bias of Wikipedia means that such pages would instantly be nominated for deletion, whereas were they about a Western writer or philosopher they wouldn't. Therefore it is important that any new pages be secure M Alan Kazlev (talk) 00:11, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

[edit] Restructuring the article
Sri Aurobindo achieved notable fame in more than one areas during his life. 1. He was at the forefront of the extermist freedom fighter movement and nationalism, defining its shape for the future. 2. He was later at the forefront of spiritual philosophy completely rewriting or interpreting almost every school of thought in Indian philosophy, and also commentries of importance on some western philosophy. 3. Apart from these two notable achievements he was also a prolific writer who published a large number of poetry and plays. The wikipedia article seems to be biased wholly towards the area of spiritual and philosophy, almost neglecting the other two. Secondly, Even though Sri Aurobindo himself never distinguished these facets as phases or modes different from each other, but for wikipedia readers, this distinction can help to organize his contribution into the existing world-view of compartmentalizing things. Therefore I plan to introduce the other facets of his achievement and restructure this article along the following lines: ...

Need consensus on the restructuring effort that I intend to undertake. The target size of the article would be approximately 50Kb. Any comments, objections, alterations, changes etc. are solicited so better planning can be done. - Varun (talk) 14:41, 27 May 2009 (UTC)
Sounds good Varun! It will be a definite improvement over the current essay, which, I agree, is overly unbalanced towards spiritual philosophy, which, important as it may be, is, as you point out, only one aspect of Sri Aurobindo's life (For that matter, Sri Aurobindo didn't even consider himself a philosopher) M Alan Kazlev (talk) 23:00, 27 May 2009 (UTC)

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Introduction Line
Currently (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sri_Aurobindo&oldid=292891866) the introduction line reads : Sri Aurobindo was an Indian nationalist and freedom fighter, poet, mystic, evolutionary philosopher, Yogi and spiritual master. To a layperson the difference between the words mystic, Yogi and spiritual master may be too thin to be discernable. Infact it can come across as intimidating to someone who may not have a background in these matters. I suggest that the three words be replaced by a single word representative of Aurobindo's philosophical and spiritual endeavors. I would have suggested the word "Yogi" for this, not sure if everyone would agree though.- Varun (talk) 11:29, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
Good point Varun! I agree, those words do overlap, except for evolutionary philosopher, which can be replaced with just "philosopher". Yogi is pretty much the accepted term, even Peter Heehs, writing for mainstream academia, uses it ("Part 4: Yogi and Philosopher") M Alan Kazlev (talk) 23:46, 29 May 2009 (UTC)

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