Journal # 4
Our first article in this edition is another look at the process of meditation, continued from
our previous Journal, in "The Myths of Meditation! New Light on Dhyana" by Yogi Harinam
Baba Prem Tom Beal.
Our second article is "Preaching in India's Northeast for Cultural Preservation". This looks
at some of the activities of the VFA in my description of our trip to Assam and the "North East
India Janajati Faith & Culture Protection Forum" which took place on the 14th and 15th of
December, 2002. It reveals the dangers that exist there, not only for people who enter the region,
but also for the people that live there and continue to follow their own culture. It is something
that not enough people are aware of.
Our third article is "HIDDEN FROM HISTORY--The Canadian Holocaust." It is a
shocking and disturbing look at the planned extermination of the indigenous people of Canada by
the Church. If you have any concerns for the First Natives of the area, or other indigenous people
around the world, this will be of most interest to you. I hope you like these articles, and we will
see you again in our next issue.
Hari Om and Hari bol,
Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)
The Myths of Meditation! New light on Dhyana.
By Yogi Harinam Baba Prem Tom Beal
The western mind has often missed important subtitles when attempting to experience and
understand the ancient teachings regarding meditation. For most people the goal of meditation is
to relax, whereas in India meditation cannot be achieved without relaxing first. The second
misconception is that the mind should be empty. An examination of the words Dhyana and
mantra will illuminate this and clearly reduce the most common misconceptions regarding
Roots of the words.
The Sanskrit word for meditation is Dhyana, which comes from the verbal root dhi or dhya. Both
roots mean to "think", this is particularly true in the sense of inquiry, examination or
introspection. In fact, in Vedic yoga, "dhi" is a reference to the Buddhi or thinking and discerning
mechanism of the mind. It would be correct to call the intellect the Buddhi in its lower function.
Dhyana as meditation is not merely a
quiet mind, though this can be a significant achievement.
One of the initial goals of Dhyana should be proper or controlled thought. Clearly illustrated in
PatanjaliĂs yoga sutras, which states in the eight limbs that before meditation can begin one must
possess concentration (Dharana). Concentration is not the removal of thought but the focusing of
thought onto a single object or a single thought. An advanced state of the final three limbs
(Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) is often referred to as "one-pointed ness". One-pointed ness is the
continuous flow of thought, but each thought is in perfect harmony with the preceding thought.
In addition, it could be viewed as such intense concentration that there is mergence with the
object of concentration. These two points would indicate that the goal is not mere absence of
thought, which is beyond reach of most beginner and intermediate students, but a singular or
focused thought rooted in powerful concentration. This focused thought actually forms the basis
of practical application of Advaitic philosophy, known as inquiry. This system is one of the most
advanced philosophical systems from India. But can more light be shed on the process of
meditative thinking? Yes! The importance of thought can be clearly illustrated by the word
Mantra is derived from the verbal root man, which means, to "think". "Tra" as a suffix to man
means to "rescue". It would also be correct to interpret "tra" indicating a means or method.
Mantra is controlled thinking that actually rescues or saves the mind. What this means in reality is
to purify the mind and prepare it for
more expansive thought.
For most people the mind could be viewed as a vast sea with a hurricane flowing across it. The
thoughts are waves coming from all directions without rhyme or reason. In fact, for most
beginners the focusing of thought can be a considerable challenge. In the preparatory stages of
meditation (learning to relax) they feel like a ship trapped at sea in a horrible storm of thought.
They wrestle with the thoughts, attempting to harness the wild activity only to experience
frustration, after frustration.
Primary differences in systems.
The conflict appears to be between two philosophical differences between the yogic and Vedic
yogic, especially the advaitic systems. Close examination will reveal that actually both systems
have the same ultimate goal. Yoga is primarily taught to focus on purification of the mind. The
Advaitic system is to go beyond mind entirely. Does yoga contain this concept? Yes! In the
oldest Vedic teachings and within many Upanishads there is constant reference to thought being
the foundation of physical and astral existence. This is especially true in the writings of the great
Within yoga we actually see a similar teaching "ogas Chitta Vritti Nirodha" Yoga Sutras of
Patanjali B.1 s.2, Yoga is restraint of thought in the field of the mind. Here is an apparent
paradox and basis for the misunderstanding. Proper thought leads to restraint of thought, or
focused thought leads to restraint of thoughts. Incorrectly this sutra has lead some to consider
the absence of thought to be the actual teaching, but Patanjali's selection of the word nirodha
(restraint) is the key. Regrettably this has resulted in many thinking that the elimination of
thought is the only goal. Especially since many scholars consider the second sutra to be the most
important sutra, and the rest of the
book is written to deal with that one issue.
Nirodha comes from the root rudh which means to Šobstruct÷, the prefix ˘ni÷ literally means
lowness or downward motions. Nirodha means not just restraint of thoughts but to obstruct
thoughts of lower nature. This would increase thought and concentration of a higher nature. A
more western practical approach would be restraint of thoughts within the field of the ego, and an
objective awareness of the thoughts rising from the cosmic mind (Brahman), or as some systems
might say merging into pure thought, or pure consciousness. When the mind becomes fully
focused on a single object of examination it is able to transcend itself and merge into pure
consciousness. So Nirodha arises from one-pointedness or ekagra. It does not arise from a merely
blank or unfocused mind. Extreme one-pointedness is Nirodha, not simply a mind left blank or
An examination of the remainder of the Yoga sutras of Patanjali will reveal that the last three
limbs called Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi (concentration, meditation, super consciousness)
actually contain thought and work within the field of thought (material creation, mental creation,
emotional creation) through proper restraint, control and direction of thought. In fact, the Yamas
and Niyamas (controls and restraints) introduced in PatanjaliĂs yoga are founded in control of
thought, though the goal taught is often just control of action. The goal is actually not just
control of action but ultimately this must become control of thought, which results in these
thought lower or negative thoughts
being absence from the field of thought.
The goal within the Vedic system is to understand the expansiveness of the mind, and then to go
beyond the mind, first by moving past the limited mind (Manas and Ahamkara), and eventually
moving past Buddhi and Mahat eventually merging with Brahman. This is achieved by
suspending some forms of thought but thought itself has not come to an end yet. In the highest
levels, thought itself comes to an end. But that is beyond the scope of a beginner or intermediate
Vedic Yoga's solution.
To deal with this issue the Vedic Yoga system provides three jewels:
For the average beginner student the journey toward true meditation can easily begin with
Pranayama. In its more advanced forms pranayama is actual control of prana; for beginners it is
literally controlling the breath. Careful examination of simple breathing exercises will quickly
reveal a meditative truth. As mentioned earlier, the goal is controlled thought. The concentration
required for pranayama begins to bring the thinking process under control. In yogic philosophy,
the breath is a reflection of the mind and visa versa. So the easiest path to control of the mind is
through control of the breath. Once the basics of this is accomplished, pranayama can have step
two added to it, mantra.
In the Vedic Yoga system Brahmins used various breathing exercises (pranayama), which are still
in use today. The Vedic meter and swara both require control of the breath. But mantra takes
the controlled thinking process to another level. Mantra begins to purify the field of the mind,
further preparing for deeper meditation. Repetition (Japa) of mantra over long periods of time
has been demonstrated to have powerful healing and clearing effects on the mind. The use of
mantra appears in vedangas and upavedas such Jyotisha, Vastu, and Ayurveda. Not to mention
the Rg Veda, Atharva Veda, Yajur Veda and the entire Sama Veda contain numerous mantras for
these very purposes. In fact mantra appears within Brahmanas, Arankyas, Puranas, and
Upanishads. Invocations and specific mantras are used to prepare the mind to think with many of
the major Upanishads such as the Aitareya and Taittirya. It is quite clear from reviewing the
ancient text that a great importance was placed on mantra. The cosmos first gift to the physical
form was the ingoing breath, and with the outgoing breath mantra was manifested on the physical
Initially mantra can be practiced aloud, after sometime it should be whispered. But the most
profound effect on the mind comes from silent repetition of mantra. "Japa," the Sanskrit word for
repetition comes from the root "jap" which means to whisper. It is important to note that in some
Indian systems Japa is broken into two primal roots, "Ja" and "Pa". "Ja" can refer to the mind, or
that which is born, and "Pa" can mean to protect. So in some yogic system japa can refer to
protecting the mind. After sufficient practice and experience with mantra, then the aspirants mind
is prepared for Dhyana.
In the Vedic yoga system, Dhyana can manifest as many forms; one of the most popular is
meditation on the physical form of a deity. This powerful and important tool in Vedic meditation
is all but ignored in western society. This is due to numerous reasons such as: unawareness of the
technique, fear of offending people, conflicting religious views, and the desire of western teachers
to only be pleasing to students for financial reward among other reasons. Meditation on a
physical form of the deity is a vital second step in the process of self-realization for many
Some might argue this point, possibly by pointing out that Buddhism does not use deities. It
should be noted that deities such as Tara do appear in several forms of Buddhism, and the image
of the Buddha is used in almost all, if not all systems of Buddhism. Though the Buddha image is
not though of as a deity, clearly we can see the same process at work as in the Vedic system. It is
important to remember that Gotama Buddha did not rebel against Hinduism; as he often referred
to his people as Aryan <his teaching as Arya Dharma>. He rebelled against the emptiness and
unawareness that had developed within the Vedic ritual. In fact the relationship between
Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism has been a fairly close relationship, with even the Dali Lama
agreeing that the roots Buddhism come from Hinduism. In addition, Tibetan Buddhism has been
critical in preserving numerous Hindu
texts, philosophies, and works.
The use of a deified image even exists within the Catholic Church with mother Mary representing
the Shakti (feminine power) of divinity. Daily Catholics pray to a variety of images of Saints and
Angels. It is quite clear that the use of a deity image or image for spiritual growth is almost
universal. In reality and with proper education there should be conflict with using an image in
meditation. It is one of the oldest and most widely used techniques in the world. After practice
one would most certainly agree that it is a powerful technique and form of meditation. The
appearance of a deity in Bhakti yoga is a very powerful aspect of the practice of Bhakti yoga,
though there are some forms of Bhakti
that are more oriented toward not accepting attributes.
Work with a deity image is a powerful technique that greatly aids in awakening the higher
function of the buddhi (it should be noted that mantra facilitates the awakening of the Buddhi
also). More abstract forms of deity meditation can be used as the skill of the practitioner
increases, such as yantras, which serve as the body of the deity in the Tantric system, and with
mantra, which serves as the mind of the deity. And still even more advanced meditation can be
practiced on the deity by performing samyama on various attributes of the deity and ignoring the
form completely; eventually leading to formless meditation for some practitioners that desire to
explore that direction. Though some may chose to stay within the field of form, which is a
completely valid system also.
This can eventually evolve into one of the simplest and highest forms of dhyana, which is
self-inquiry such as taught by Ramana Maharishi. It is important to note that Ramana Maharishi
had no objections to the use of form, ritual, or puja. Again we see that the concept of thought or
the thinking principle is not deserted but is used like a hot knife to cut through the butter of
We see that the ancient seers recorded a perfect system for discovery of the true nature of the self.
It can be, at the highest levels, pure absence of thought or absence of ego, but initially entails a
great degree of effort to control and direct thought. Clearly we see ample evidence that the
ancient seers considered it very important that the mind be cleared and prepared to fully
experience dhyana and one of the most powerful tools in preparation for dhyana is mantra and
Great appreciation and thanks are given to Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) for his
insight into Vedic Yoga. Vedic Yoga and its principle's is a term that was first introduced to the
author by Dr. Frawley.
Dr. David Frawley www.vedanet.com
Frawley, David, ˘Vedic Yoga, the Oldest Form of Yoga÷. www.vedanet.com
Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
Yogi Harinam Baba Prem Tom Beal
1338 Hampshire Place Circle
Altamonte Springs, FL 32714
Preaching in India's Northeast for Cultural Preservation
By Stephen Knapp
This article not only relates my
experience of traveling into India's Northeast hinterlands, but it also reveals
the truth about the dangers there. It shows what is being applied to the
villagers to force them to lose or give up their Vedic or indigenous cultures
and replace them with the western forms of religion. It is something of which
many people are not aware, so this article will inform you of the reality of the
situation through my own first-hand experience.
India's northeast is an area that I had never visited before. So my
experience of touring Arunachal Pradesh (in December of 2002) and lecturing
about the glories of Vedic culture was not only inspiring, but was also a terrific
adventure. Fortunately, I was able to see not only some of its large towns but
also some of its smallest villages.
My intent is to work with the extended Hindu society for a common cause. This shows the
usefulness that we can be to the larger community as well as the power that comes from an
expansive and cooperative effort. I have also written several books that have
reached and been appreciated by this broader society of Sanatana-dharma.
It is for this reason that I had originally been invited by Swami
Dayanand Sarasvati from Coimbatore, along with several other delegates from
the West, to go to Guwahati in Assam to participate in the "North East India
Janajati Faith & Culture Protection Forum". This conference took place on the
14th and 15th of December, 2002. It focused on the increasing threat in India's
northeast regions of the loss of its culture and traditions because of the number
of conversions that are taking place, often by questionable tactics. I and the
other delegates were there to give lectures and presentations on the benefits of
the local and Vedic culture of the region.
The other delegates from the west included Dr. David Frawley, Andrew
Foss, Vrindavana Parker, Yvette Rosser, and Surya das Youngwolf, all of
whom are members of the Vedic Friends Association. Now you might ask
why they might want westerners such as us to come and give talks. Surely their
own local people would know more about their own culture than we would.
The point is that when they see Westerners talking about the glories of
Vedic culture, the Indians take it more seriously. It adds credence to the
presentation. This is not the first time that I've been touring India and giving
lectures, and I have found that this is true. They look at a typical westerner,
such as myself, who has been brought up in a country like America, the most
materially affluent country in the world, and often grown up in the usual
Christian background, who then comes to India and explains how much we
have been influenced by the Vedic tradition and knowledge. This is a real
novelty to some of them. This is very unusual that we should speak with such
approval of what the Vedic culture has had to offer humanity. This is because
we often look at India not from an outsider's viewpoint but from an Indian's
perspective. And it gives them a sense of pride in what they have.
Furthermore, as David Frawley told me, the Prime Minister of India,
Vajpayai personally said to him that as westerners, we can say more than
Indians can. If an Indian gets up and speaks, or even if a Swami speaks about
the glories of Vedic culture, it is to be expected. It's nothing new. But if a
westerner does it, then that is different, and we can say things that the locals
cannot always say and be taken seriously. In fact, all of us Western delegates
got coverage in the press over the next few days for being there and giving talks
at the conference. So in light of this, I felt good that I could come and do my
part in encouraging people to value their own culture.
This conference was the first of its kind, and there were almost 300
delegates from the northeast. Many were there to speak and give their concerns
with what is happening, and there was hardly enough time for everyone.
However, many papers were also presented, and it certainly provided the means
for planning for an even more
effective conference the following year.
Traveling in Arunachal Pradesh
After the conference, most of us western delegates went our separate
ways into the interior of the region. Vridavana and Yvette went into Nagaland,
Andrew went to Schillong, Meghalaya for a few days, and Surya das
Youngwolf and I went into different parts of Arunachal Pradesh. My own route
took me to the eastern part, closer to China and Myanmar. You need special
permits to travel into these parts, but the organization I was working with, the
Vivekananda Kendra, provided the means for such permits to be granted. So I
spent another seven days traveling to many towns and villages, giving from one
to three lectures everyday, except on the days that were full of traveling.
I was able to also see much of the area's wilderness. There are
extremely lush forests, beautiful hills and valleys, and lovely flowing rivers. The
most prominent river of course is the Brahmaputra. It also has many tributaries
that reach much farther into the hills and mountains. The best time to travel is in
the winter, which is the dry season here. Once the rainy season starts in March,
the Brahmaputra rises much higher and can be up to ten miles wide in some
places. Then it must be crossed by ferry, which can take several hours in parts.
As it was, in the eastern region, we could sometimes drive right through the
shallow portions of the rivers. At areas where we could not see exactly where
the road went, we would throw rocks into the shallow parts of the river. If you
could hear the rocks bounce off the bottom, that's where we would drive the
jeep. However, there was a time when we miscalculated and we drove into the
river and the water started coming up over the front of the jeep. So before we
got soaked, the driver stepped on the gas and we simply went through it to the
other side without a problem. At other areas, we would have to take the
pontoon bridges. However, in the rainy season even these could be washed
While traveling in these hilly areas, some of the roads were the worst I'd
ever ridden on in India. In other places you could not tell where the road ended
and another started. They were like mere paths in the sand. And while driving
up to the town of Khonsa during the night after a day of rain, the roads were so
bad that without a four-wheel drive jeep there would have been no way we
could have gotten through the mud, which was easily six inches deep or more
along steep hillsides. I have been on narrow mountain roads of the Himalayas
before while going up to Badrinatha or Gangotri, so I know what they can be
like. But when the tires start spinning and the jeep begins sliding around in the
mud and getting close to the edge of the road, then it gets a little hair-raising.
Long drop offs down from the edge of the road were not unusual.
To reach these towns I traveled in a jeep and was accompanied by a
driver, along with two members of the Vivekananda Kendra, Rupesh and
Ramana, and my own personal security officer for extra safety. This was not
because the people are unfriendly, but because of the danger the region has
suffered due to the effects of militant Christian insurgents coming from
Nagaland. They come in and terrorize the people and force them with threats to
pay high taxes to fund their cause, or with death if they do not convert to their
religion. This is called "gunpoint conversions". They have even taken people
out to the forests to shoot and kill them when they have refused to convert.
Furthermore, when we were traveling from Mergherita to Khonsa we had a
truck with four additional armed soldiers follow us into the forest region for a
few hours for extra protection. You never know when the insurgents could
show up in the middle of a forest, set up road blocks, and threaten your life.
Though I never felt in peril, you never knew if something might happen. So
while traveling and speaking on the benefits and glories of Vedic culture, this
was one of the dangers with which we had to contend.
An example is the town of Khonsa. This is a pleasant hillside town with
neighboring villages. Yet, some years ago the town and its shops would often
stay open with activity until eight o'clock or later. But after the insurgents
started coming and making their demands, the town now closes up shortly after
dark, which is around five PM or later. The people became fearful of what
could happen. Even though the police and military have increased its numbers
to add protection, the people have become extra cautious, and there are certain
things that they can no longer do. This is one way in which their freedom to
practice their culture is being threatened. The original traditions of this region
are parts of the great river of Sanatana-dharma that flows throughout India, or
are all tributaries of that great river. Naturally we are respectful toward all
religions. But it should not be at the expense of one's own culture. We must not
humble ourselves out of our own existence, or our own values and traditions.
We must know when to stand and take counter measures for preserving our
own heritage. This is why attention needs to be given to the Northeast region so
that the simple and innocent people of this area can be protected from falling as
victims of destabilizing forces.
The people in the region are wonderful, for the most part. Extremely
hospitable and courteous. They are simple, humble, shy, and incredibly
conscientious of others' feelings and well being. They maintain ecological
lifestyles and acquire whatever they need by living off the land. I met many
people there who always invited me to their homes for dinner or lunch to try
their local vegetarian foods. And they were always giving me gifts that
represented their local crafts and traditions. I also met other Indians who were
from other parts of the country that upon arriving in Arunachal Pradesh simply
loved the people so much that they have stayed there.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the ecologically built houses are made mostly
from bamboo and do not even have doors or locks on them. People can come
and go as they like with no fear from thieves or dacoits from within their own
village. Because of their values, these villages have no beggars, no orphans or
destitutes. Everyone takes care of everyone else. For example, when a young,
newly married couple wants to build a house, the whole community works
together to build it in what's called "community house building." If any house
gets burned down, the whole village comes together to rebuild it. I was
personally shown a part of a village where several houses had burnt down. The
houses were all rebuilt in two days because everyone worked together. Then
others come to offer the people in need such items as blankets, utensils, or other
necessities. In this way, within 24 hours or so a well-furnished house can be
ready for a family. When a whole village is burnt, other neighboring villages
come together to rebuild and furnish the houses. The society responds to the
needs of its members. Therefore, it does not need an orphanage or a destitute
home, nor a police force, or government forms of welfare. The society itself is a
welfare society. And yet the western or converted missionaries want to
"civilize" these people by making them change their ways and religion. Then
wherever conversions take place, these traditional values and community
cooperation are lost.
During my tour, I visited and lectured at several schools to both
students and teachers, as well as several community centers where people
gathered to hear me and ask philosophical and spiritual questions. I spoke to
local people as well as tribal chiefs or local government officials. Some of the
students had never seen an American before.
When I would speak, I was always introduced as being a disciple of His
Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, and having joined the Hare
Krishna movement back in 1975. Even though I was working with
organizations outside Iskcon, I was surprised at how many Krishna bhaktas I
met. And I was also impressed with how many people view Srila Prabhupada
with the utmost respect and feel that Iskcon is an organization that is working
very nicely for the protection, preservation and expansion of Vedic culture. So
for this reason, I'm happy to broaden my participation with whom I work for
these preaching efforts. After all, it was the Vivekananda Kendra and other
organizations who had arranged for my travel and speaking engagements
through this region, and who paid for and arranged for my transportation and
the places for me to stay. We were working to achieve the same thing, which is
the continuance and expansion of the Vedic principles and culture.
For me personally, I am also working to keep India the homeland of a
living and dynamic Vedic civilization, which in many ways is being threatened in
particular areas of India. The Northeastern region is another area in which a
growing militant view, influenced by western religions, makes people demand
succession from India as a separatist country. This is especially in Nagaland,
Tripura, Mizoram, Assam, Arunachala Pradesh, etc., although a fair number of
people still want to follow their own indigenous culture. So this is one reason I
have gone on lecture tours throughout India, and was visiting the northeastern
region on this trip. When people see a westerner speaking with such dedication
to the Vedic path, it gives them more self-confidence.
After all, what other culture in the world has given society such deep
and philosophical insights into the reasons for life, and the perception of our
spiritual identity? What culture has given more realizations into humanity's
spiritual unity, and our connection with God?
In America there are more people than ever looking toward the East for
spiritual knowledge and a heightened understanding in the meaning of life.
There are over seven million Americans who practice yoga on a regular basis,
and many others are adopting to the Eastern forms of diet and Ayurvedic health
care for improving their lives. More magazines than ever before are found at the
news stand that deal with Eastern lifestyles and philosophy, such as
reincarnation, life after death, diet and exercise, or even the philosophical
adaptations for corporate management.
Another thing that is happening in America is the epidemic of
depression. The statistics say that as many as 70 million Americans are suffering
from depression. This is a lack of motivation, of purpose in life, and feeling
lethargic, uninspired, and even suicidal over the way life is going for them. So
again, people are looking for more purpose in life. This shows that merely
adapting to the Western lifestyle or its religions may not be the way to be
perfectly happy or solve all our problems. It may not be all that is required to
advance in life. There is something more that is necessary. America is a young
country, so it really does not have much culture of its own. That is why when
Americans look for culture, they often have to look outside of their own
country. And that search often takes people toward the East. So it may surprise
many people who live in India and the Eastern countries how the West is
looking toward them to add purpose and deeper meaning and understanding to
Because of this, and also due to the increasing number of Indians and
foreign people who practice Vedic culture or forms of Sanatana-dharma who
are moving to America, the demographics in the United States is rapidly
changing. You find an increasing change in the religious temperament of the
population. There is more openness to alternative spiritual paths than only
Christianity. There is a decrease in the evangelism that goes on in the West,
which is presently so popular in India. It is becoming more of a thing of the
past. Churches are also not as full, especially in Europe. People are looking at
the more personal ways of practicing spirituality, something that the Vedic
system has provided for centuries.
The Vedic culture is also the oldest of any culture in the world, and for
thousands of years has provided mankind with standards, ideals and insights for
living that have provided for peace, harmony and spiritual development. The
world has always looked toward India for spiritual guidance. Therefore, who
should tell me that if I expect to advance into the 21st century that I must give
up this culture? Or that the Vedic customs are evil and Satanic? Since when did
they ever become Satanic, except with the presence of the foreign missionaries?
The Vedic tradition and all its tributaries in the region have already existed for
thousands of years, so who is to tell me that it is not good enough to last for
another several thousand years?
The Vedic customs and philosophy have withstood the test of time
because of their universal nature. It has lasted because of the respect given to
the individual, as opposed to forcing people into following the dictates of an
institution at the expense of individual freedom. Under the Vedic umbrella there
is, nonetheless, the freedom for religious diversity. Recognizing our spiritual
similarities provides the means for unity in diversity. The Vedic system
establishes certain principles by which we can live and grow in peace. As long
as those principles are respected and practiced, it does not demand that people
drastically change from their indigenous culture.
The people of Bharat are rooted in religious culture. In fact, as I have
traveled around most of India, I can see that many of the social problems that
have developed are not because of the culture itself, but because of the
distancing or even disconnection from the true teachings of Vedic culture. Or it
is because of following a perversion of what the culture once was.
This doesn't mean that people must give up on technological
advancement. No. As my own spiritual master Srila Prabhuapda has said, along
with others like Vivekananda, the need is to combine the advancements of
the West with the spiritual knowledge of the East. This is what provides for a
decent and progressive society. The only need is to keep the basis of Vedic
culture, but merely add to it the modern technological developments of the
West. You simply broaden your education to include the modern technologies
that are helpful and applicable to the region. Include what is necessary to
improve the roads and methods of transportation, the medical systems and
hospitals, the communication systems, the agricultural techniques, and so on.
You don't have to give up your culture or religion to do this. Keep what you
have and simply add to it. Or modify the customs according to what is most
appropriate to the times, but do so with proper respect for the tradition.
The point to consider is that the farther a people go from their original
indigenous culture and the values and principals it contained, often the worse
life becomes for them. They become but slaves to a new establishment that
cares little for their genuine welfare or original traditions. Forgetting their own
ethics and values is often what happens at the demands of the foreign institution
or religion, thus, often furthering interest in shallow or false aims of life.
The lectures and presentation that I gave went so well that they want me
to return next year and spend more time in that area cultivating the values and
focusing on the glories of Vedic culture and the original traditions of the region.
So I want to do this. As I get to know the people on an increasingly personal
level, then the more effective I can be in working to retain the natural culture of
the area and delivering genuine
The Dangers in the Northeast
In personally interviewing the local people about the situation, this is
what I learned: That the northeast region has become so infected by Christian
militants and conversions that they want to secede from the rest of India and
become their own Christian country, against the wishes of those who want to
remain a part of the Vedic or indigenous cultures.
Assam, for example, has an economy based on agriculture and oil.
Assam produces a significant part of the total tea production of the world, and
produces more than half of India's petroleum. Assam has 30 major tribes of
people while the nearby state of Arunachal Pradesh has 24 major tribes.
However, the current political situation in Assam is unstable with the United
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) fighting a low-intensity but widespread
guerrilla warfare for independence from India. Although the Indian military has
tried to quell the insurgents with a large presence for more than ten years, they
have not been very successful. Plus, there are other militant groups that are
seeking independence or autonomy in Assam.
Mizoram is another state that is now mostly converted to Christianity,
but whose people have shunned the path of violence and are peace loving. They
are, nonetheless, reviving their age old culture, traditions and festivals after
feeling the dread impact of westernization which invaded their land with the
Manipur, south of Nagaland and north of Mizoram, still remains
attached to its old Vedic culture, especially through its song and dances, many
of which tell the stories of Lord Krishna. However, many changes have also
been felt there as well.
Christians entered Nagaland and Mizoram in 1860-70, and Arunachal in
1952. Because of the influence of western evangelists, the local traditions are
now in the process of being transformed beyond recognition or wiped out
totally. Taking advantage of the poverty, lack of employment and education,
these foreign missionaries have lured away a large part of the people from their
traditional moorings. Types of food, drink, dress, songs, dances and festivals
are all being lost or forgotten because of recently being regarded as
unrighteous, and being replaced by modern western pop songs and dances.
However, the people have not completely snapped the bond with the culture of
their forefathers. Conversion tears the individual away from his or her family,
and from the rest of the community. Acts of conversion, therefore, create social
unrest and clashes in an area that has until recently been a place of community
peace and cooperation. What is now appearing is the typical form of
competition found in western society, and a class struggle emerging in the once
classless society. In this way, we can understand that the work of religious
conversion in the guise of social service by calling the indigenous cultures and
the forefathers as satanic or worshipers of Satan, or people of darkness and
damned to hell, is a form of violence of the worst sort. It is, therefore, all the
more necessary to think of ways and means to stem the tide of this so-called
modernism which is producing the loss of the Vedic indigenous cultures in the
One of the methods of the missionary schools to make Christian
converts is that they offer free education to the local children. They educate
them freely for one or two years and then begin charging them for books and
clothes. However, if the parents cannot pay the costs, the schools tell them that
if they make four or five boys into Christians, then they do not have to pay the
school tuition. Thus, the education narrows their views of their own culture to
the point where they willingly give it up and help perpetuate that limited notion.
The people are also told that they are not Indian, and should not think
they need to be loyal to India or the Indian traditions. They are told by the
schools that they are actually "austro-mongoloid" (by anthropologists) to
inspire a feeling that the people do not belong here since they do not look like
other Indians. Or since there is a difference in food habits, as some people eat
beef in Arunachal Pradesh, they should not identify with other Indians. The
missionary schools then focus on differences, and people become influenced
because they do not have a deeper understanding of the unifying principles.
The idea is given that unless the people become Christian, they will not
become qualified to develop themselves like America has done. They are told
that becoming Christian is the way to become more materially successful.
Another method is that when the Church comes in, the missionaries say
that the people and their ancestors have been practicing evil. Sometimes they
are even told that they and their customs are Satanic. Thus, all traditions,
worship, festivals, etc., must stop since it is equal to devil worship. However,
when people listen and adopt the ways of Christianity, the harmonious
community living ends and the people become divided. The new Christians no
longer participate in community activities, such as festivals, town meetings, or
in respecting the land when a section is cleared for farming for a few years and
later replanted with trees for future balance. Nor do they help with community
house-building. All this stops among the Christian converts.
For example, in the villages people are so united that, as previously
explained, when a house burns down, everyone helps to build a new house for
the people who had been living there. Some people will also give utensils,
others give blankets, and so on so that in a few days the people whose house
burned down will have a new place and everything they need to go on as
normal. So when this cooperation ends because some of the townspeople have
become Christian, people become selfish and alienated from age-old traditions
and from each other.
A simple example of this is the regional custom of making rice beer. The
Christian missionaries have come in and told people they must give up their
traditions because they are evil, including the making of rice beer, which anyone
can do. It's not an industry. Rice beer is made from rice and is actually a
nutritious drink. Yet, it must stay contained and ferment for a long period of
time before it becomes a strong brew. You have to drink a lot of it if you expect
to become inebriated. Otherwise, it is like a fruit drink with very little strength.
So, with the incentive of the foreign missionaries they give up making the rice
beer and instead they are encouraged to simply buy wine. Now there are so
many wine and liquor shops in some areas like Assam that alcoholism is
becoming a real concern. And there are far more health problems with liquor
than there is with rice beer. So, in the name of progress, the situation has
become more detrimental to the people than helpful or improved.
The missionaries, as part of their campaign for conversion, have also
called the gods and goddesses of the communities "spirits." The people were
told, "You do not have God, You only worship spirits. What you have is only
primitive ideas of religion and a bundle of superstitions. If you want to be
saved, you must follow our One True God." Thus, they took away the people's
confidence in their culture, but by using the word "spirit" they also
philosophically separated the local Vanavasi people from their Hindu or Vedic
At many times the church has not made any attempt to hide what they
are doing. Actually, they have to include the number of converts they are
making because that helps increase the funding they receive from the West.
Thus, local people have been hearing and reading in the Christian propaganda
that third world countries like India are the prime missionary fields. They
declare their intention through radios, literature, or in church services, of
turning India into a land of Christ by hook or crook.
A few other things that the church uses as techniques for conversion is
explained by Naga Rani Gaidinliu. In 1978 the people of Lungkao village in
Manipur had been approaching the state government for establishing a medical
dispensary. As it could not happen for a long time, the men from the Christian
church began visiting the people and would tell them that God could fulfill their
desire for a dispensary only if they all stopped pursuing their age-old indigenous
faiths and accepted Jesus Christ only as their personal savior. They began to
repeatedly tell the simple and innocent villagers that as long as they were on the
side of "Satan" (meaning the indigenous faith) they would not have their desired
dispensary but worse, they would also be burnt in hell fire before long. They
were about to begin succeeding in this process when the State Government of
Manipur gave approval to allow for the medical dispensary and saved the
Failing to convert adult Hindus, the economically powerful American
Baptist Church, which had been working in the Kiriba town, as well as the
Roman Catholic Church elsewhere, entice the minor children to join their
school. Thereafter, they work to convert them by baptizing them without the
knowledge of the parents. As soon as a tribal child is converted, his or her
indigenous name is changed in the school register the next day to something like
that of John, Joseph, Mary or Margaret. Such conversions of minor children
invariably lead to disharmony, unhappiness and eventual shattering of the
families, along with their age-old traditions and culture. This could be compared
more closely to psychological warfare against the people and communities in
which such churches have been allowed to exist, rather than social service,
welfare and upliftment.
The northeast region of India, especially around and in Nagaland, has 40
different missionary groups, all quarreling and competing for converts to
Christianity. But it also has 18 major Christian militant groups, which are
extremely dangerous. The Nagaland militants get church money and then buy
guns, such as AK47s and AK57s from Burma or Bangladesh. They will also go
into villages and threaten people to pay a tax to them. Then they use the money
to buy guns and weapons. The Indian Army is helping to stop such activities,
but the secular press writes against the Army activities, making them appear to
be villains working against the freedom of the people.
These militant groups travel throughout the area and kidnap people for
ransom money. They patrol Arunachal towns to make them Christian. They tell
the people that their lives are in danger if they do not build a church or pay a
tax to them. Some people may argue that these are not real Christians, but
"Nagaland for Christ" is the name they use, which is stamped on the notes that
demand tax. These groups may also say that they are servants of the
government, and thus collect a tax which they use for their purpose. Of course,
some people may say that these are not real Christians, so we should not take
them seriously. Yet, if that's the case, then why don't you try telling them that
and see what happens? They may not be convinced of your point of view and
may end up turning their guns toward you. They are completely convinced that
they are doing the right thing for their religion.
What the militants do is that groups of 20 to 30 men will come from
places like Nagaland and then travel through the forest into towns of Arunachal
Pradesh. They take food and rest, and then demand that the people should
become Christian and threaten them with guns. Due to fear, people then convert
in "gunpoint conversions". There are both Catholic and Baptist militant groups.
Though these groups are all Christian, they still have no respect for each other
and often fight amongst themselves. One such group, the National Socialist
Council of Nagaland has two factions. One is the Kaplan group, and the other is
the Isak Muria group. On December 14 of 2002, The Kaplan group attacked
the latter group when they were at church during a Sunday gathering. Four
people were killed and others injured. So we have to ask ourselves; how can
social harmony come from such disharmony? How can unity come from such
disunity? So how can we combat this
chaos and clean up this dilemma?
Working to Restore Cultural Balance
To summarize the situation in the words of Talom Rukbo the Father of
the Donyipolo Movement in Arunachala Pradesh from a talk he gave called
"The Truth Every Bharatiya Should Know":
"The church--Christian missionaries--quickly capitalized on the
innocence of our forefathers. They fraudulently convinced our people that we
were barbarians and converted some into Christianity. Having put into them the
fear of God, the temptation of Paradise, they put the Bible into their hands and
employed the local youth to translate it and hymns in their local dialect. The
books were made for free distribution in the local areas. Those brainwashed
youths became their tools and handmade for propagation of their religion and
erected churches to attract the innocent Arunachalee people, thus converting
them into missionaries. The so called "Service" they offered--medicines and
school--were thin disguises for their crooked purpose of conversion. They
declared that the converted persons must discard (1) the "animist" practices,
(2) our festivals and that our Gods and Godesses were Saitan (evil spirits--
Satan). Christians must depend only on the CROSS for their safety and security.
Slowly this created frequent disturbances and social disharmony. The Christian
missionaries were stooping to the lowest, most uncivilized means to tear social
fabric of our society apart.
"Our traditions, customs, rituals, faith, festivals, dress, etc., have deep
roots and profound meaning. We should remember that our forefathers have
lived it with peace and happiness. We should take supreme pride in them,
preserve then and guard them from the attack of any force--whichever it might
be. Yes, it may have to be modified as per the social needs but without
destroying its essentials. Seeing and worshiping the sun, moon, tress, earth... all
these natural things, are reflections of our culture. We are seeing in them the
expressions of ultimate divinity! Being the inheritors of such a lofty philosophy,
why should we feel inferior to anyone or accept foreign faith? Let us stop using
the word tribal, henceforth as a cancerous legacy from the 'colonialists'. It was
in keeping with their 'divide and rule policy'. Never be under the impression that
modernization means westernization, it is not. Let us not imitate but adapt and
accept whatever is constructive and in tune with our moral aptitude. Let this be
To help in this way, the Vivekananda Kendra has been establishing
schools since 1977 with 60-70% support from the local people. Now they do
not convert to Western religions so easily anymore in those areas. The quality
of work of the Vivekananda Kendra Vidyalayas (VHVs) can be judged by the
fact that starting in 1977 with only 7 schools, 23 teachers and 220 students, the
VKVs have grown to 20 schools, 267 teachers and 6278 students in 25 years.
Three more schools are scheduled to start in 2003, and the Kendra is still not
able to meet the demand for more schools.
Graduates are becoming doctors, engineers, lawyers, administrators, but
are also taking active roles and important positions in local government to work
for the preservation of the cultures. Many also come back to Arunachal to work
toward the development of the state and its people. The education provided in
the VKVs is based on the principle of "Man Making and Nation Building,"
which encompasses a full curriculum of subjects and activities for mental,
intellectual, physical and spiritual development.
Vivekananda Kendra also started the Vivekananda Kendra Aruna Jyoti
in 1993, a multi-dimensional service project for everyone. It includes five
separate wings for education, health care, youth, women, and culture.
The goal is the development of the local culture through the arts and
crafts for economic progress and freedom from the schemes of the Church to
bride people with money to become Christian. Also, the Northeast regions have
lush forests with many medicinal and Ayurvedic plants that are useful on the
international markets. So these are also being harvested and marketed by local
people. The people in these areas are also naturally very creative, so the
emphasis is on getting the local economy more organized through sustainable
development with local culture and traditions, along with crafts of bamboo and
cane work, woodcarving, textiles, and other handmade crafts. By encouraging
everyone to have strong roots in their own way of life and traditions, their
culture can be protected in time.
Arun Jyoti is the organization that promotes culture in education and
personality development and nation-building work in Arunachala. In the area of
the Itanagar belt of Arunachal Pradesh, 172 study centers have been
established, while in the eastern area there are not as many.
The Changalang district of Arunachala Pradesh is primarily Buddhist but
as we travel south it becomes mostly Christian. At least 60% of the people,
however, support the Vivekananda Kendra because they now want to continue
their own traditions. To further cultural awareness, the Vivekananda Kendra
has one or two large seminars in the tribal areas each year, along with smaller
symposiums in each town one or two times a year. This helps provide the
venues in which people can discuss issues, ideas, and the means of protecting
the practice of their own traditions that they have known for many hundreds of
years. However, from the article that follows, there is much work that needs to
be done, and quickly. And we members of Iskcon should take note of this and
realize the need to do our part in preserving and expanding the true depths of
HINDUSTAN TIMES, DECEMBER 31, 2002
NOW A CHRISTIAN-HINDU DIVIDE IN TRIPURA VILLAGES
Agence France-Presse, Guwahati, December 31
Tribal Hindu villagers in Tripura on Tuesday pledged to fight alleged
extortion demands by a Christian separatist group, community leaders said.
Militants of the outlawed National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) have
served extortion notices to hundreds of Hindu tribals and threatened them with
death if they do not pay up.
"The demand notes were served only to tribal Hindu villagers with warnings
of capital punishment to those who violated their diktat," Aswathama Jamatia,
head priest of the Jamatia Hoda, an influential tribal Hindu group, told AFP by
Police have confirmed the extortion demands by the NLFT, which is a
predominantly Christian group fighting for an independent tribal homeland.
Community leaders say the NLFT has demanded three per cent of the
annual earnings of all government employees as tax, besides charging anything
between Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 from farmers and businessmen.
Villagers in remote areas have formed vigilante groups to foil the NLFT's
drive. "People armed with sticks and other crude weapons, including bows and
arrows, patrol vulnerable villages to scare away militants who come for
extorting money," Rampada Jamatia, secretary of the Jamatia Hoda, said. "At
no cost are we going to pay the militants."
Tribal Hindus account for about 22 per cent of Tripura's 3.2 million people.
Christians are just about eight per cent of the state's population.
Tribal Hindus also accuse the NLFT of converting people to Christianity at
gunpoint. Insurgency in the state took root after a massive influx of
Bengali-speaking refugees when East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, was created
during India's partition in 1947.
The indigenous tribal people, who accounted for 95 per cent of the Tripura
population in the 1931 census, are now just 30 per cent.
More than 10,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in Tripura
during the past two decades.
HIDDEN FROM HISTORY
The Canadian Holocaust
Through the Canadian residential school system, the Christian churches along
with state authorities, the judiciary, doctors and the police implemented a
policy of genocide against the native population.
by Rev. Kevin D. Annett, MA, MDiv
2001 The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 9, Number 2 (February-March 2002)
PO Box 30, Mapleton Qld 4560 Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: +61 (0)7 5442 9280; Fax: +61 (0)7 5442 9381
From our web page at:
(The following is an edited extract from the report, "Hidden From History: The
Canadian Holocaust - The Untold Story of the Genocide of Aboriginal Peoples by
Church and State in Canada - A Summary of an Ongoing, Independent Inquiry into
Canadian Native 'Residential Schools' and their Legacy", by Rev. Kevin D.
Annett, MA, MDiv. The report is published by The Truth Commission into Genocide
in Canada, a public investigative body continuing the work of previous Tribunals
into native residential schools: The Justice in the Valley Coalition's Inquiry
into Crimes Against Aboriginal People, convened in Port Alberni, British
Columbia, on December 9, 1994, and The International Human Rights Association of
American Minorities Tribunal into Canadian Residential Schools, held in
Vancouver, BC, from June 12-14, 1998.
Jasper Joseph is a sixty-four-year-old native man from Port Hardy, British
Columbia. His eyes still fill with tears when he remembers his cousins who were
killed with lethal injections by staff at the Nanaimo Indian Hospital in 1944.
I was just eight, and they'd shipped us down from the Anglican residential
school in Alert Bay to the Nanaimo Indian Hospital, the one run by the United
Church. They kept me isolated in a tiny room there for more than three years,
like I was a lab rat, feeding me these pills, giving me shots that made me sick.
Two of my cousins made a big fuss, screaming and fighting back all the time, so
the nurses gave them shots, and they both died right away. It was done to
silence them. (November 10, 2000)
Unlike post-war Germans, Canadians have yet to acknowledge, let alone repent
from, the genocide that we inflicted on millions of conquered people: the
aboriginal men, women and children who were deliberately exterminated by our
racially supremacist churches and state.
As early as November 1907, the Canadian press was acknowledging that the death
rate within Indian residential schools exceeded 50% (see Appendix, Key Newspaper
Articles). And yet the reality of such a massacre has been wiped clean from the
public record and consciousness in Canada over the past decades. Small wonder;
for that hidden history reveals a system whose aim was to destroy most native
people by disease, relocation and outright murder, while "assimilating" a
minority of collaborators who were trained to serve the genocidal system.
This history of purposeful genocide implicates every level of government in
Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), every mainstream church, large
corporations and local police, doctors and judges. The web of complicity in this
killing machine was, and remains, so vast that its concealment has required an
equally elaborate campaign of cover-up that has been engineered at the highest
levels of power in our country; a cover-up that is continuing, especially now
that eyewitnesses to murders and atrocities at the church-run native residential
"schools" have come forward for the first time.
For it was the residential "schools" that constituted the death camps of the
Canadian Holocaust, and within their walls nearly one-half of all aboriginal
children sent there by law died, or disappeared, according to the government's
These 50,000 victims have vanished, as have their corpses - "like they never
existed", according to one survivor. But they did exist. They were innocent
children, and they were killed by beatings and torture and after being
deliberately exposed to tuberculosis and other diseases by paid employees of the
churches and government, according to a "Final Solution" master plan devised by
the Department of Indian Affairs and the Catholic and Protestant churches.
With such official consent for manslaughter emanating from Ottawa, the churches
responsible for annihilating natives on the ground felt emboldened and protected
enough to declare full-scale war on non-Christian native peoples through the
The casualties of that war were not only the 50,000 dead children of the
residential schools, but the survivors, whose social condition today has been
described by United Nations human rights groups as that of "a colonized people
barely on the edge of survival, with all the trappings of a third-world
society". (November 12, 1999)
The Holocaust is continuing.
This report is the child of a six-year independent investigation into the hidden
history of genocide against aboriginal peoples in Canada. It summarises the
testimonies, documents and other evidence proving that Canadian churches,
corporations and the government are guilty of intentional genocide, in violation
of the United Nations Convention on Genocide, which Canada ratified in 1952 and
under which it is bound by international law.
The report is a collaborative effort of nearly 30 people. And yet some of its
authors must remain anonymous, particularly its aboriginal contributors, whose
lives have been threatened and who have been assaulted, denied jobs and evicted
from their homes on Indian reserves because of their involvement in this
As a former minister in one of the guilty institutions named in our inquiry -
the United Church of Canada - I have been fired, blacklisted, threatened and
publicly maligned by its officers for my attempts to uncover the story of the
deaths of children at that church's Alberni residential school.
Many people have made sacrifices to produce this report, so that the world can
learn of the Canadian Holocaust, and to ensure that those responsible for it are
brought to justice before the International Criminal Court.
Beginning among native and low-income activists in Port Alberni, British
Columbia, in the fall of 1994, this inquiry into crimes against humanity has
continued in the face of death threats, assaults and the resources of church and
state in Canada.
It is within the power of the reader to honour our sacrifice by sharing this
story with others and refusing to participate in the institutions which
deliberately killed many thousands of children.
This history of official endorsement of, and collusion in, a century or more of
crimes against Canada's first peoples must not discourage us from uncovering the
truth and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
It is for this reason that we invite you to remember not only the 50,000
children who died in the residential school death camps, but the silent victims
today who suffer in our midst for bread and justice.
(Rev.) Kevin D. Annett
The Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada
Vancouver, British Columbia, February 1, 2001
PART ONE: Summary of Evidence of Intentional Genocide in Canadian Residential
Article II: The intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnic,
racial or religious group; namely, non-Christian aboriginal peoples in Canada
The foundational purpose behind the more than one hundred Indian residential
schools established in Canada by government legislation and administered by
Protestant and Catholic churches was the deliberate and persistent eradication
of aboriginal people and their culture, and the conversion of any surviving
native people to Christianity.
This intent was enunciated in the Gradual Civilization Act of 1857 in Upper
Canada, and earlier, church-inspired legislation, which defined aboriginal
culture as inferior, stripped native people of citizenship and subordinated them
in a separate legal category from non-Indians. This Act served as the basis for
the federal Indian Act of 1874, which recapitulated the legal and moral
inferiority of aboriginals and established the residential school system. The
legal definition of an Indian as "an uncivilized person, destitute of the
knowledge of God and of any fixed and clear belief in religion" (Revised
Statutes of British Columbia, 1960) was established by these Acts and continues
to the present day.
Then, as now, aboriginals were considered legal and practical non-entities in
their own land and, hence, inherently expendable.
This genocidal intent was restated time and again in government legislation,
church statements and the correspondence and records of missionaries, Indian
agents and residential school officials (see Documentation section). Indeed, it
was the very raison d'tre of the state-sanctioned Christian invasion of
traditional native territories and of the residential school system itself,
which was established at the height of European expansionism in the 1880s and
persisted until 1984.
By definition, this aim was genocidal, for it planned and carried out the
destruction of a religious and ethnic group: all those aboriginal people who
would not convert to Christianity and be culturally extinguished. Non-Christian
natives were the declared target of the residential schools, which practised
wholesale ethnic cleansing under the guise of education.
As well, such "pagans" were the subject of government-funded sterilisation
programs administered at church-run hospitals and tuberculosis sanatoriums on
Canada's west coast (see Article IId).
According to an eyewitness, Ethel Wilson of Bella Bella, BC, a United Church
missionary doctor, George Darby, deliberately sterilised non-Christian Indians
between 1928 and 1962 at the R. W. Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella. Ms
Wilson, who is now deceased, stated in 1998:
Doctor Darby told me in 1952 that Indian Affairs in Ottawa was paying him for
every Indian he sterilised, especially if they weren't church-goers. Hundreds of
our women were sterilised by Doctor Darby, just for not going to church.
(Testimony of Ethel Wilson to International Human Rights Association of American
Minorities [IHRAAM] Tribunal, Vancouver, BC, June 13, 1998)
According to Christy White, a resident of Bella Bella, records of these
government-funded sterilisations at the R. W. Large Hospital were deliberately
destroyed in 1995, soon after a much-publicised police investigation was to open
into residential school atrocities in British Columbia. Ms White stated in 1998:
I worked at the Bella Bella hospital, and I know that Barb Brown, one of the
administrators there, dumped sterilisation records at sea on two occasions. Some
of the records were found washed up on the beach south of town. That was just
after the cops opened their investigation into the schools, in the spring of
1995. They were covering their tracks. We all knew Ottawa was funding
sterilisations, but we were told to keep quiet about it. (Testimony of Christy
White to Kevin Annett, August 12, 1998)
Legislation permitting the sterilisation of any residential school inmate was
passed in BC in 1933 and in Alberta in 1928 (see "Sterilization Victims Urged to
Come Forward" by Sabrina Whyatt, Windspeaker, August 1998). The Sexual
Sterilization Act of BC allowed a school principal to permit the sterilisation
of any native person under his charge. As their legal guardian, the principal
could thus have any native child sterilised. Frequently, these sterilisations
occurred to whole groups of native children when they reached puberty, in
institutions like the Provincial Training School in Red Deer, Alberta, and the
Ponoka Mental Hospital. (Former nurse Pat Taylor to Kevin Annett, January 13,
Of equal historical significance is the fact that the Canadian federal
government passed legislation in 1920, making it mandatory for all native
children in British Columbia - the west coast of which was the least
Christianised area among aboriginals in Canada - to attend residential schools,
despite the fact that the same government had already acknowledged that the
death rate due to communicable diseases was much higher in these schools and
that, while there, the native children's "constitution is so weakened that they
have no vitality to withstand disease". (A. W. Neill, West Coast Indian Agent,
to Secretary of Indian Affairs, April 25, 1910)
That is, the Canadian government legally compelled the attendance of the most
"pagan" and least assimilated of the native peoples in residential schools at
precisely the time when the death rate in these schools had reached their
pinnacle - about 40%, according to Indian Affairs officers like Dr Peter Bryce.
This fact alone suggests a genocidal intent towards non-Christian aboriginals.
Article II (a): Killing members of the group intended to be destroyed
That aboriginal people were deliberately killed in the residential schools is
confirmed by eyewitness testimonies, government records and statements of Indian
agents and tribal elders. It is also strongly suggested by the bare fact that
the mortality level in residential schools averaged 40%, with the deaths of more
than 50,000 native children across Canada (see Bibliography, inc. the report of
Dr Peter Bryce to Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent Duncan Campbell
Scott, April 1909).
The fact, as well, that this death rate stayed constant across the years, and
within the schools and facilities of every denomination which ran them - Roman
Catholic, United, Presbyterian or Anglican - suggests that common conditions and
policies were behind these deaths. For every second child to die in the
residential school system eliminates the possibility that these deaths were
merely accidental or the actions of a few depraved individuals acting alone
Yet not only was this system inherently murderous, but it operated under the
legal and structural conditions which encouraged, aided and abetted murder and
which were designed to conceal these crimes.
The residential schools were structured like concentration camps, on a
hierarchical military basis under the absolute control of a principal appointed
jointly by church and state, and who was usually a clergyman. This principal was
even given legal guardianship rights over all students during the early 1930s by
the federal government, at least in west coast residential schools. This action
by the government was highly unusual, considering that native people were by law
the legal wards of the state, and had been so since the commencement of the
Indian Act. And yet such absolute power of the school principal over the lives
of aboriginal students was a requirement of any system whose killing of
aboriginals had to be disguised and later denied.
The residential schools were constructed behind this deception in such a way
that the deaths and atrocities that constitute genocide could be hidden and
eventually explained. In the Canadian context, this meant a policy of gradual
but deliberate extermination under a protective legal umbrella, administered by
"legitimate and trusted" institutions: the mainline churches.
It should be clarified from the outset that the decisions concerning the
residential schools, including those which caused the deaths of children and
resulting cover-ups, were officially sanctioned by every level of the churches
that ran them and the government which created them. Only such sanction could
have allowed the deaths to continue as they did - and the perpetrators to feel
protected enough to operate with impunity for many years within the system,
which they universally did.
Exposure to Diseases
In 1909, Dr Peter Bryce of the Ontario Health Department was hired by the Indian
Affairs Department in Ottawa to tour the Indian residential schools in western
Canada and British Columbia and report on the health conditions there. Bryce's
report so scandalised the government and the churches that it was officially
buried and only surfaced in 1922 when Bryce - who was forced out of the civil
service for the honesty of his report - wrote a book about it, entitled The
Story of a National Crime (Ottawa, 1922).
In his report, Dr Bryce claimed that Indian children were being systematically
and deliberately killed in the residential schools. He cited an average
mortality rate of between 35% and 60%, and alleged that staff and church
officials were regularly withholding or falsifying records and other evidence of
Further, Dr Bryce claimed that a primary means of killing native children was to
deliberately expose them to communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and then
deny them any medical care or treatment - a practice actually referred to by top
Anglican Church leaders in the Globe and Mail on May 29, 1953.
In March 1998, two native eyewitnesses who attended west coast residential
schools, William and Mabel Sport of Nanaimo, BC, confirmed Dr Bryce's
allegation. Both of them claim to have been deliberately exposed to tuberculosis
by staff at both a Catholic and a United Church residential school during the
I was forced to sleep in the same bed with kids who were dying of tuberculosis.
That was at the Catholic Christie residential school around 1942. They were
trying to kill us off, and it nearly worked. They did the same thing at
Protestant Indian schools, three kids to a bed, healthy ones with the dying.
(Testimony of Mabel Sport to IHRAAM officers, Port Alberni, BC, March 31, 1998)
Reverend Pitts, the Alberni school principal, he forced me and eight other boys
to eat this special food out of a different sort of can. It tasted really
strange. And then all of us came down with tuberculosis. I was the only one to
survive, 'cause my Dad broke into the school one night and got me out of there.
All of the rest died from tuberculosis and they were never treated. Just left
there to die. And their families were all told they had died of pneumonia. The
plan was to kill us off in secret, you know. We all just began dying after
eating that food. Two of my best friends were in that group that was poisoned.
We were never allowed to speak of it or go into the basement, where other
murders happened. It was a death sentence to be sent to the Alberni school.
(Testimony of William Sport to IHRAAM officers, Port Alberni, BC, March 31,
More overt killings of children were a common occurrence in residential schools,
according to eyewitnesses. The latter have described children being beaten and
starved to death, thrown from windows, strangled and being kicked or thrown down
stairs to their deaths. Such killings occurred in at least eight residential
schools in British Columbia alone, run by all three mainline denominations.
Bill Seward of Nanaimo, BC, age 78, states:
My sister Maggie was thrown from a three-storey window by a nun at the Kuper
Island school, and she died. Everything was swept under the rug. No
investigation was ever done. We couldn't hire a lawyer at the time, being
Indians. So nothing was ever done. (Testimony of Bill Seward, Duncan, BC, August
Diane Harris, Community Health Worker for the Chemainus Band Council on
Vancouver Island, confirms accounts of the murders.
We always hear stories of all the kids who were killed at Kuper Island. A
graveyard for the babies of the priests and girls was right south of the school
until it was dug up by the priests when the school closed in 1973. The nuns
would abort babies and sometimes end up killing the mothers. There were a lot of
disappearances. My mother, who is 83 now, saw a priest drag a girl down a flight
of stairs by her hair and the girl died as a result. Girls were raped and
killed, and buried under the floorboards. We asked the local RCMP to exhume that
place and search for remains but they've always refused, as recently as 1996.
Corporal Sampson even threatened us. That kind of cover-up is the norm. Children
were put together with kids sick with TB in the infirmary. That was standard
procedure. We've documented thirty-five outright murders in a seven-year period.
(Testimony of Diane Harris to the IHRAAM Tribunal, June 13, 1998)
Evidence exists that active collusion from police, hospital officials, coroners,
Indian Agents and even native leaders helped to conceal such murders. Local
hospitals, particularly tuberculosis sanatoriums connected to the United and
Roman Catholic churches, served as "dumping grounds" for children's bodies and
routinely provided false death certificates for murdered students.
In the case of the United Church's Alberni residential school, students who
discovered dead bodies of other children faced serious retribution. One such
witness, Harry Wilson of Bella Bella, BC, claims that he was expelled from the
school, then hospitalised and drugged against his will, after finding the body
of a dead girl in May 1967.
Sadly, the two-tiered system of collaborators and victims created among native
students at the schools continues to the present, as some of the state-funded
band council officials - themselves former collaborators - appear to have an
interest in helping to suppress evidence and silence witnesses who would
incriminate not only the murderers but themselves as agents of the white
A majority of the witnesses who have shared their story with the authors and at
public tribunals on the west coast have described either seeing a murder or
discovering a body at the residential school he or she attended. The body count,
even according to the government's own figures, was enormously high. Where,
then, are all these bodies? The deaths of thousands of students are not recorded
in any of the school records, Indian Affairs files or other documentation
submitted thus far in court cases or academic publications on the residential
schools. Some 50,000 corpses have literally and officially gone missing.
The residential school system had to hide not only the evidence of murder but
the bodies as well. The presence of secret gravesites of children killed at
Catholic and Protestant schools in Sardis, Port Alberni, Kuper Island and Alert
Bay has been attested to by numerous witnesses. These secret burial yards also
contained the aborted foetuses and even small babies who were the offspring of
priests and staff at the schools, according to the same witnesses. One of them,
Ethel Wilson of Bella Bella, claims to have seen "rows and rows of tiny
skeletons" in the foundations of the former Anglican residential school of St
Michael's in Alert Bay when a new school was built there in the 1960s.
There were several rows of them, all lined up neatly like it was a big cemetery.
The skeletons had been found within one of the old walls of St Mike's school.
None of them could have been very old, from their size. Now why would so many
kids have been buried like that inside a wall, unless someone was trying to hide
something? (Testimony of Ethel Wilson to Kevin Annett, Vancouver, BC, August 8,
Arnold Sylvester, who, like Dennis Charlie, attended Kuper Island school between
1939 and 1945, corroborates this account.
The priests dug up the secret gravesite in a real hurry around 1972 when the
school closed. No one was allowed to watch them dig up those remains. I think
it's because that was a specially secret graveyard where the bodies of the
pregnant girls were buried. Some of the girls who got pregnant from the priests
were actually killed because they threatened to talk. They were sometimes
shipped out and sometimes just disappeared. We weren't allowed to talk about
this. (Testimony of Arnold Sylvester to Kevin Annett, Duncan, BC, August 13,
Local hospitals were also used as a dumping ground for children's bodies, as in
the case of the Edmonds boy and his "processing" at St Paul's Hospital after his
murder at the Catholic school in North Vancouver. Certain hospitals, however,
seem to have been particularly favourite spots for storing corpses.
The Nanaimo Tuberculosis Hospital (called The Indian Hospital) was one such
facility. Under the guise of tuberculosis treatment, generations of native
children and adults were subjected to medical experiments and sexual
sterilisations at the Nanaimo Hospital, according to women who experienced these
tortures (see Article IId). But the facility was also a cold storage area for
The West Coast General Hospital in Port Alberni not only stored children's
bodies from the local United Church residential school; it was also the place
where abortions were performed on native girls who were made pregnant at the
school by staff and clergy, and where newborn babies were disposed of and
possibly killed, according to witnesses like Amy Tallio, who attended the
Alberni school during the early 1950s.
Irene Starr of the Hesquait Nation, who attended the Alberni school between 1952
and 1961, confirms this.
Many girls got pregnant at the Alberni school. The fathers were the staff,
teachers, the ones who raped them. We never knew what happened to the babies,
but they were always disappearing. The pregnant girls were taken to the Alberni
hospital and then came back without their babies. Always. The staff killed those
babies to cover their tracks. They were paid by the church and government to be
rapists and murderers. (Testimony of Irene Starr to Kevin Annett, Vancouver, BC,
August 23, 1998)
Article II (b): Causing serious bodily or mental harm
Early in the residential schools era, the Indian Affairs Superintendent, Duncan
Campbell Scott, outlined the purpose of the schools thus: "to kill the Indian
within the Indian".
Clearly, the genocidal assault on aboriginals was not only physical but
spiritual: European culture wished to own the minds and the souls of the native
nations, to turn the Indians it hadn't killed into third-class replicas of white
Expressing the "virtues" of genocide, Alfred Caldwell, principal of the United
Church school in Ahousat on Vancouver Island's west coast, wrote in 1938:
The problem with the Indians is one of morality and religion. They lack the
basic fundamentals of civilised thought and spirit, which explains their
child-like nature and behaviour. At our school we strive to turn them into
mature Christians who will learn how to behave in the world and surrender their
barbaric way of life and their treaty rights which keep them trapped on their
land and in a primitive existence. Only then will the Indian problem in our
country be solved. (Rev. A. E. Caldwell to Indian Agent P. D. Ashbridge,
Ahousat, BC, Nov 12, 1938)
The fact that this same principal is named by eyewitnesses as the murderer of at
least two children - one of them in the same month that he wrote this letter -
is no accident, for cultural genocide spills effortlessly over into killing, as
the Nazis proved so visibly to the world.
Nevertheless, Caldwell's letter illuminates two vital points for the purpose of
this discussion of mental and bodily harm inflicted on native students: (a) the
residential schools were a vast project in mind control, and (b) the underlying
aim of this "re-programming" of native children was to force aboriginals off
their ancestral lands in order to allow whites access to them.
To quote Alberni survivor Harriett Nahanee:
They were always pitting us against each other, getting us to fight and molest
one another. It was all designed to split us up and brainwash us so that we
would forget that we were Keepers of the Land. The Creator gave our people the
job of protecting the land, the fish, the forests. That was our purpose for
being alive. But the whites wanted it all, and the residential schools were the
way they got it. And it worked. We've forgotten our sacred task, and now the
whites have most of the land and have taken all the fish and the trees. Most of
us are in poverty, addictions, family violence. And it all started in the
schools, where we were brainwashed to hate our own culture and to hate ourselves
so that we would lose everything. That's why I say that the genocide is still
going on. (Testimony of Harriett Nahanee to Kevin Annett, North Vancouver, BC,
December 11, 1995)
It was only after the assumption of guardianship powers by the west coast school
principals, between 1933 and 1941, that the first evidence of organised
pedophile networks in those residential schools emerges. For such a regime was
legally and morally free to do whatever it wanted to its captive native
The residential schools became a safe haven - one survivor calls it a "free fire
zone" - for pedophiles, murderers and brutal doctors needing live test subjects
for drug testing or genetic and cancer research.
Particular schools, such as the Catholic one at Kuper Island and the United
Church's Alberni school, became special centres where extermination techniques
were practised with impunity on native children from all over the province,
alongside the usual routine of beatings, rapes and farming out of children to
Much of the overt mental and bodily harm done to native students was designed to
break down traditional tribal loyalties along kinship lines by pitting children
against each other and cutting them off from their natural bonds. Boys and girls
were strictly segregated in separate dormitories and could never meet.
One survivor describes never seeing her little brother for years, even though he
was in the same building at the Alert Bay Anglican school. And when children at
the schools broke into each other's dormitories and older boys and girls were
caught exchanging intimacies, the most severe punishments were universally
applied. According to a female survivor who attended the Alberni school in 1959:
They used the gauntlet on a boy and girl who were caught together kissing. The
two of them had to crawl naked down a line of other students, and we beat them
with sticks and whips provided by the principal. The girl was beaten so badly
she died from kidney failure. That gave us all a good lesson: if you tried
having normal feelings for someone, you'd get killed for it. So we quickly
learned never to love or trust anyone, just do what we were told to do.
(Testimony of anonymous woman from the Pacheedat Nation, Port Renfrew, BC,
October 12, 1996)
According to Harriett Nahanee:
The residential schools created two kinds of Indians: slaves and sell-outs. And
the sellouts are still in charge. The rest of us do what we're told. The band
council chiefs have been telling everyone on our reserve not to talk to the
Tribunal and have been threatening to cut our benefits if we do. (Harriett
Nahanee to Kevin Annett, June 12, 1998)
The nature of that system of torture was not haphazard. For example, the regular
use of electric shocks on children who spoke their language or were
"disobedient" was a widespread phenomenon in residential schools of every
denomination across Canada. This was not a random but an institutionalised
Specially constructed torture chambers with permanent electric chairs, often
operated by medical personnel, existed at the Alberni and Kuper Island schools
in British Columbia, at the Spanish Catholic school in Ontario, and in isolated
hospital facilities run by the churches and Department of Indian Affairs in
northern Quebec, Vancouver Island and rural Alberta, according to eyewitnesses.
Mary Anne Nakogee-Davis of Thunder Bay, Ontario, was tortured in an electric
chair by nuns at the Catholic Spanish residential school in 1963 when she was
eight years old. She states:
The nuns used it as a weapon. It was done on me on more than one occasion. They
would strap your arms to the metal arm rests, and it would jolt you and go
through your system. I don't know what I did that was bad enough to have that
done to me. (From The London Free Press, London, Ontario, October 22, 1996)
Such torture also occurred at facilities operated by the churches with
Department of Indian Affairs money, similar to the sterilisation programs
identified at the W. R. Large Memorial Hospital in Bella Bella and the Nanaimo
Frank Martin, a Carrier native from northern BC, describes his forcible
confinement and use in experiments at the Brannen Lake Reform School near
Nanaimo in 1963 and 1964:
I was kidnapped from my village when I was nine and sent off to the Brannen Lake
school in Nanaimo. A local doctor gave me a shot and I woke up in a small cell,
maybe ten feet by twelve. I was kept in there like an animal for fourteen
months. They brought me out every morning and gave me electric shocks to my head
until I passed out. Then in the afternoon I'd go for these X-rays and they'd
expose me to them for minutes on end. They never told me why they were doing it.
But I got lung cancer when I was eighteen and I've never smoked. (Videotaped
testimony of Frank Martin to Eva Lyman and Kevin Annett, Vancouver, July 16,
Such quack experimentation combined with brutal sadism characterised these
publicly funded facilities, especially the notorious Nanaimo Indian Hospital.
David Martin of Powell River, BC, was taken to this hospital in 1958 at the age
of five and used in experiments attested to by Joan Morris, Harry Wilson and
other witnesses quoted in this report. According to David:
I was told I had tuberculosis, but I was completely healthy; no symptoms of TB
at all. So they sent me to Nanaimo Indian Hospital and strapped me down in a bed
there for more than six months. The doctors gave me shots every day that made me
feel really sick, and made my skin all red and itchy. I heard the screams of
other Indian kids who were locked away in isolation rooms. We were never allowed
in there to see them. Nobody ever told me what they were doing to all of us in
there. (David Martin to Kevin Annett, Vancouver, November 12, 2000)
A recurring and regular torture at the residential schools themselves was
operating on children's teeth without using any form of anaesthesia or
painkiller. Two separate victims of this torture at the Alberni school describe
being subjected to it by different dentists, decades apart. Harriett Nahanee was
brutalised in that manner in 1946, while Dennis Tallio was "worked on by a sick
old guy who never gave me painkillers" at the same school in 1965.
Dr Josef Mengele is reputed by survivors of his experiments to have worked out
of Cornell University in New York, Bristol Labs in Syracuse, New York, and
Upjohn Corporation and Bayer laboratories in Ontario. Mengele and his Canadian
researchers, like the notorious Montreal psychiatrist Ewen Cameron, used
prisoners, mental patients and native children from reserves and residential
schools in their efforts to erase and reshape human memory and personality,
using drugs, electric shocks and trauma-inducing methods identical to those
employed for years in the residential schools.
Former employees of the federal government have confirmed that the use of
"inmates" of residential schools was authorised for government-run medical
experiments through a joint agreement with the churches which ran the schools.
According to a former Indian Affairs official:
A sort of gentlemen's agreement was in place for many years: the churches
provided the kids from their residential schools to us, and we got the Mounties
to deliver them to whoever needed a fresh batch of test subjects: usually
doctors, sometimes Department of Defense people. The Catholics did it big time
in Quebec when they transferred kids wholesale from orphanages into mental
asylums. It was for the same purpose: experimentation. There was lots of grant
money in those days to be had from the military and intelligence sectors: all
you had to do was provide the bodies. The church officials were more than happy
to comply. It wasn't just the residential school principals who were getting
kickbacks from this: everyone was profiting. That's why it's gone on for so
long. It implicates a hell of a lot of top people. (From the Closed Files of the
IHRAAM Tribunal, containing the statements of confidential sources, June 12-14,
Such experiments and the sheer brutality of the harm regularly inflicted on
children in the schools attest to the institutional view of aboriginals as
"expendable" and "diseased" beings. Scores of survivors of 10 different
residential schools in BC and Ontario have described under oath the following
tortures inflicted on them and other children as young as five years old between
the years 1922 and 1984:
--tightening fish twine and wire around boys' penises;
--sticking needles into their hands, cheeks, tongues, ears and penises;
--holding them over open graves and threatening to bury them alive;
--forcing them to eat maggot-filled and regurgitated food;
--telling them their parents were dead and that they were about to be killed;
--stripping them naked in front of the assembled school and verbally and sexually degrading them;
--forcing them to stand upright for more than 12 hours at a time until they collapsed;
--immersing them in ice water;
--forcing them to sleep outside in winter;
--ripping the hair from their heads;
--repeatedly smashing their heads against concrete or wooden surfaces;
--daily beating without warning, using whips, sticks, horse harnesses, studded metal straps, pool cues and iron pipes;
--extracting gold teeth from their mouths without painkillers;
--confining them in unventilated closets without food or water for days;
--regularly applying electric shocks
to their heads, genitals and limbs.
Perhaps the clearest summary of the nature and purpose of such sadism are the
words of Bill Seward of Nanaimo, a survivor of the Kuper Island school:
The church people were worshipping the devil, not us. They wanted the gold, the
coal, the land we occupied. So they terrorised us into giving it to them. How
does a man who was raped every day when he was seven make anything out of his
life? The residential schools were set up to destroy our lives, and they
succeeded. The whites were terrorists, pure and simple. (Testimony of Bill
Seward to Kevin Annett and IHRAAM observers, Duncan, BC, August 13, 1998)
To obtain a copy of "Hidden From History: The Canadian Holocaust", contact The
Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada, c/- 6679 Grant Street, Burnaby, BC V5B
2K9, Canada, telephone +1 (604) 293 1972, email email@example.com or
firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website http://annett55.freewebsites.com.
See review, NEXUS 9/01.
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