I think a more appropriate name for Krishna West would be “Krishna Adaptable to Different Cultures.” In other words, lets say we go to China, then probably Krishna West would utilize people eating with chopsticks. So people would feel more comfortable. The idea is that whatever culture you’re in, present the essence of Krishna consciousness and then you can have the external cultural things that people are comfortable with. Because you have to have something that people are comfortable with.
There are studies done at different universities with how to get people to change their lifestyle. There is one very famous university in the United States, Stanford; and there is a professor Fog whom I’ve actually studied some of his work. He talks about how in order to get people to change their life they have to do baby steps. You can’t expect people to all of a sudden jump off to a new thing. So baby steps means you give them Krishna consciousness gradually and allow them to progress at their own rate; and allow them to stay there (temple) if they happen to want to stay and not want to put on a dhoti. That’s Krishna West.
One of the things that Hridayananda Maharaj says that can be taken out of context is “Krishna West is not a bridge but a destination.” That does’t mean that it’s not ISKCON. It is ISKCON. It’s full ISKCON. And in the same way that ISKCON has student hostels in India, that means we allow students to dress their normal way, live in hostels, get prasadam, and go to different universities in India like the IIT. And we’re making thousands of devotees that way in India. So even in India we have to present things in a more western way than devotees are accustomed to, so what to speak of the western world?
If you look at the progress we’re making in the western world during the last 10-15 years, it’s minimal. I mean, just to be honest, most of our temples in the west are primarily functioning with Indian devotees. And I love Indian devotees, I work with them all the time, but if you go to the west and it’s all Indian devotees, I mean, it would be like going to India and only having Americans in your temple. I mean, it would just be weird. Isn’t it?
I mean, you come to New Zealand, just look at how many Kiwis do we have coming to the temple? If you want to be successful in New Zealand, you have to have Kiwis – in addition to Indians, in addition to Chinese. The mix should represent the percentages in a particular location. Let’s say there are 10% of people from India, so 10% of your devotees should be from India. If you have 20% Chinese, so 20% of the devotees should be Chinese. It should be representative of the local population if we’re actually going to be successful.
So if we look at the last 15 years, the temples in at least America, New Zealand and Australia have largely become influenced or catering to the Indian population, and we’re not making many local people any more. And what that means long-term, we’re not going to have a world-wide movement any more. It’s just going to be one particular culture in the movement, whereas Prabhupada wanted United Nations of the spiritual world.
Prabhupada wanted everyone to work together – the westerners, the Indians, the Chinese, the Russians. This is the success of our movement if we can do that. To make the world Krishna conscious, we have to start making thousands of devotees, or tens of thousands, millions of devotees. If we make devotees one by one, that’s not very good. It’s going to take till the next Satya yuga to become prominent. It’s crazy!