Krishna West is being formally introduced all over the world. Given the history of ISKCON it is natural and even laudable that devotees may question if this is another attempt to corrupt or disrupt ISKCON. This document aims to allay some of the most common fears and to show that Krishna West is a fully bonafide ISKCON initiative.
Misconception: Krishna West weakens the spiritual practice and philosophy left by our founder- acharya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
Truth: Krishna West changes absolutely nothing in the spiritual practice and philosophy left by our founder-acharya A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada! It’s the exact same spiritual program, the same spiritual practice with the same emphasis on Srila Prabhupada’s books. Krishna West does not have its own acharya, nor its own teachings or ideology.
Misconception: Krishna West is an excuse to become lax, to not follow the principles or not chant japa.
Truth: Krishna West in no way lessens the importance of 16 rounds a day minimum of the Hare Krishna mantra, nor in any way condones breaking principles. Krishna West leaders will have to demonstrate a sadhana and sattvic pious lifestyle above suspicion.
Misconception: Krishna West wants to change ISKCON.
Truth: Krishna West has no desire to change any ISKCON devotee or change any ISKCON project. We respect and accept as bonafide the way things are done now, even while considering what we are doing as equally respectable and bonafide. We accept there is a section of the population that is attracted to the way ISKCON is currently presenting itself.
Misconception: Srila Prabhupada would not approve Krishna West.
Truth: There is ample evidence that Srila Prabhupada approved and lauded the use of Western clothing and music, use of chairs, etc. in the presentation of Krishna Consciousness. He has done this in Srimad Bhagavatam purports, in conversations, letters and through his personal example. And there is no evidence that Indian ethnicity is a necessary part of Krishna Consciousness – this cannot be found in any shastra, was never mentioned by any previous Acharya and was never written or spoken by Srila Prabhupada.
Misconception: Since Krishna West advocates not using dhotis and saris, the devotees and even the pujaris in Krishna West will be wearing mini-skirts, torn jeans, heavy metal t-shirts, etc.
Truth: We understand that vedic culture means living in sattva, the mode of goodness. As such, clothes that are unchaste, inappropriate, that draw attention to one’s body and away from Krishna or that unnecessarily emphasize one’s social or financial position over others is not appropriate. We will teach this to all our congregation and demand it from our leaders.
Misconception: Krishna West is similar to Kirtananda’s New Vrindavan fiasco.
Truth: Kirtanananda in New Vrindavana changed three basic things that Prabhupada did not want changed: 1. He changed the philosophy, 2. He changed the basic spiritual program in the temple, 3. He was not loyal to ISKCON. In contrast, Krishna West does not change our philosophy or spiritual program, and Krishna West is loyal to ISKCON.
Misconception: Krishna West will be to ISKCON what the Protestant Movement was to the Catholic Church.
Truth: Martin Luther rejected the spiritual efficacy of Catholic rituals. We accept the presence of Krishna in the Deity form, the authority of spiritual hierarchy, etc. A better example would be the case of Paul who turned Christianity into a world religion by allowing people to follow Jesus without the need to become orthodox Jews. Every major world religion succeeded by adapting to time and place.
Misconception: In Krishna West there will be no Deities and no kirtan.
Truth: Krishna West has no policy against Deities and will follow the GBC Ministry of Deity Worship guidelines like any other ISKCON center. And there will absolutely be kirtan in all Krishna West spiritual programs, most likely using mrdangas and kartals, etc.
Misconception: Krishna West will be separatist and look down upon traditional ISKCON Centers and the devotees who prefer the traditional model.
Truth: Krishna West leaders are taught from the beginning to cultivate a mood of respect and appreciation of all other devotees. We respect and appreciate the unity in diversity of ISKCON, and believe it to be essential to the success of ISKCON.
Misconception: Krishna West is just another bridge program.
Truth: Krishna West is not a bridge program. We will offer the entire body of Krishna Consciousness philosophy as presented by Srila Prabhupada, with all the levels of practice and engagement offered by any regular ISKCON program.
Misconception: There must be other shadier motivations to Krishna West that are not being revealed.
Truth: Krishna West is just presenting Krishna Consciousness as it is, just adjusting external elements such as clothing, menu, décor, architecture, chair sitting, etc. to Western sattvic standards. There really is nothing more. There are no other items on our agenda. It’s a simple thing, but we believe it to be essential if we are to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s wish to make Krishna Consciousness a relevant spiritual movement in the world.