Sutta Central website's article on Wikipedia [[An Urgent Help needed]]

I don’t know anything about the gentleman in question, but there is a complex and problematic relation between modern Hindutva (i.e. right-wing nationalist Hindu fundamentalism) and Buddhism.

It is a virtually universal belief in India that the Buddha was an incarnation of Vishnu, and that Buddhism is therefore a branch of Hinduism. On the one hand, this is just a harmless, if foolish, bit of folk belief. But it is part of a pattern whose purpose is to undermine Buddhism in India.

Far more than any other country, Buddhism in India is a social reform movement, whose primary goal is the emancipation of the dalits. When dalits become Buddhists, virtually every social indicator improves: health, education, role of women, and so on. For upper-caste Hindus, this essentially means that they lose their slave caste, and this has huge social and economic implications.

When I was in Bodhgaya a few years ago, some Buddhist monks took the Kali image out of one of the nearby Buddhist shrines and trashed it. A few nights later, some Buddhist monks were beaten up in retaliation. I saw loud mobs running around the stupa at Bodhgaya, yelling (I think they were Buddhists). Meanwhile, the Hindus were planning to build a large stupa nearby to overshadow the Bodhgaya stupa. So the ugliness is not far below the surface.

According to what I heard while there, some years ago, one of the most reputable Buddhist studies centres in a western university was in need of funds. They were approached by Mrs Modi. Yes, the wife of that Modi. When she heard of the amount needed—a few million dollars—she said it wouldn’t be a problem. Only one thing: they had to say that the Buddha was a Hindu. Needless to say, the money wasn’t accepted.

So this is how it is. On the one hand, Hindus love the Buddha, and are proud of him as “India’s greatest son”. At the same time, his actual teachings, especially the social teachings, are highly subversive, even today. He can only be accepted if he becomes Hindu.

This is one of the reasons why the Goenka tradition divest their centres of any specifically “Buddhist” overtones, so they can get on with teaching meditation without getting caught up in the politics.

And yes, this has been an issue on Wikipedia. Some time ago, for example, it was common on Wikipedia to see Pali words transliterated in Devanagari. It was rightly objected that Devanagari, a modern Indian script, has never been used for writing Pali, and Roman script is the universal convention for international Pali. However the Buddhist editors had to struggle against Hindutva editors. I haven’t kept up with this debate, but I haven’t seen such problems recently, so perhaps the argument is over.

All this, of course, is just by way of general background. I have no idea whether the current issues with my edits have anything to do with this.

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thanks, bhante, for outlining the picture, i wasn’t quite aware of these issues

the suffocating embrace of the Buddha’s figure by the Hindus as you describe is all too familiar from Russia’s attitude towards Ukraine, where it’s all good as long as the latter is in submissive status, but once it tries to assert independence problems (and wars), begin.

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I think the primary issue, as noted by the most recent delete proponent on the talk page, is the lack of external sources backing up the credibility of SC itself. Because Wikipedia functions as ‘crowd-edited’ (so to speak), it is necessary for a variety of people to contribute to the diversity of the page. I think they’re arguing that the SC page is too one-sided, that it is maintained by largely one person and not vetted by ‘reliable’ sources.

The editing is one thing, but ultimately the most critical thing is “notability”. It has to be have a significant mention in independent, substantial sources. And I haven’t been able to find too much of that. The members of SC—myself and Rod—have given a few papers in academic forums on it, but that doesn’t count: it has to be third party. Something like, say, an article in a Buddhist magazine, a discussion in an academic paper or a book, and so on. The basic principle of Wikipedia is not truth, but reference. Unfortunately, something like SC doesn’t attract much in the way of such discussion, it tends to be taken for granted. Of course, there are a number of references to be found online, and I personally think that’s enough to count as notable, but others, obviously, differ.

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I feel very sad that the Wikipedia article got deleted. I voted over there to keep it. Anyway if you are thinking that you have lost the content then don’t be sad. I have saved it over here. so that you can continue when you wish to re-create it. With best regards, Abhinav

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Thanks for the support Abhinav.

Venerable Bhante Sujato, I recreated the article SuttaCentral on Wikipedia 2 Months ago. Sorry that I couldn’t tell you at that time because of security reasons. But now you can improve it by providing more content. I know that our intention is good but still there will some small negative social elements who will oppose it. With regards, Abhinav

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Bravo! Well done!

:anjal:

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Thanks, much appreciated.

How do we vote there?

So in what can we help? Could we email academics to write articles about SC? Richard Gombrich has been so kind to reply to my emails before.

Well, that’s fantastic. Hopefully it will survive this time.

As for getting third-party citations, I would suggest leave it for the time being. When our new translations are published, some time next year, this will be a major event and we can contact the various Buddhist publications and so on. This should get significant coverage, after which the issue will become moot.

One factual detail, we currently have around 11,500 texts in original languages (Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan) and 49,500 translations in 33 languages.

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I updated this information in the wikipedia page.

The page cites this:
“In 2015 Bhante Sujato announced a project to develop an new complete translation of the four Pali Nikāyas for SuttaCentral.”

I would like to add a reference for that, which you think would be good?

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I am sorry to say that the page has been deleted again.
I will try to get in touch with the person who did it and get more information.

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Thanks for all the effort you are putting in!

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I just found this article that might be of interest here:

http://www.acmuller.net/wikipedia.html

My dealings with administrative people at Wikipedia, and with many of its staunch supporters (even colleagues in my field) gives me the clear impression that Wikipedia is already so deeply invested in the present model of anonymity (and thus, non-responsibility) and that since this is seen by them as being ethically non-problematic, that there is not much likelihood of seeing a change in their mode of operation based on complaints such as those expressed here.

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Wow, what an explanation, analysis, and assessment, Bhante :pray: I agree with the overall sentiment relatively completely.

Good point.

Also good point.

:flushed:

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Well, thanks!

Update: now we have around 13,200 texts in 6 original languages, and 55,600 translations in 41 languages.

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:flushed:

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