on Aug. 30, 2008
Indian Hindus are populating ISKCON Temples in the West in a way never seen before over the last forty-two years. This is happening all over the world at a massive rate and is not a phenomenon, as some suggest. The fact is, as India becomes a wealthier nation, we can only expect more and more students to leave India and attend Western educational institutions as well as many more arriving from India to become citizens of other countries.
Also we are seeing that many of these students eventually take up residency in countries like Australia. As a result, "Hinduism" has increased 153% just in the last four years in Australia! We have also seen in recent years that some of those students have moved into the ISKCON temples and have taken up the life of brahmacaris.
We are all living in interesting times. As the world becomes more and more like a global village, due to technology, we are seeing a massive movement, or the travelling of the world's population never before seen in recorded history. Already the most popular nation on the planet who speaks the English language is not England, America, Canada or Australia, it is India, whose enormous population is on the move.
At the Melbourne Australia ISKCON Temple on the weekend there were 12,000 people, of which 98% where Indian Hindus, Sikhs and even some Indian Muslims, celebrating Janmastami (Lord Krishna's appearance day); the other two percent were of European background.
From the perspective of white Australians like myself, this was truly an amazing Janmastami like no other experienced in ISKCON Melbourne's history. There was a queue of people, mostly Indian Hindus, that went from the front gate of the Temple for two blocks, all waiting to enter the Temple. I have never seen anything like this in Australia. It was truly fascinating to watch as those in different parts of the queue were having their own kirtan while waiting to see the beautiful Deities of Sri Sri Radha-Vallabha and then honour delicious maha-prasadam (sanctified food).
I felt very privileged to be a part of and witness to this truly amazing event of Janmastami in 2008 and thought how Srila Prabhupada would be so pleased that ISKCON was providing the facility to worship Krishna in every corner of the planet.
This is a very auspicious historical event that is happening now and has been unfolding for the past forty-two years. There is a famous saying, that history is never recognized in its own time. What Srila Prabhupada achieved in the mid-1960s will eventually be recognized as the most significant event. He planted the seeds of a coming bona fide spiritual movement that will inundate the entire World.
As we were watching the vast queue of people slowly making their way into the temple, I mentioned to some young brahmacaris, of who most were of Indian origin, that they must never forget why Srila Prabhupada came to the West in the first place. We must understand His Divine Grace came first to America to give Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and cause of all causes, to everyone, regardless of race, colour, political persuasion, or religion.
Srila Prabhupada further wanted to influence all the age-old branches of so-called Hinduism and bring them back to the original essence and cream of Vedic teachings, The beautiful Bhagavat Purana or Srimad Bhagavatam. In the Caitanya-caritamrta it is stated that the essence and conclusion of all Vedic texts is Srimad Bhagavatam.
This message was brought to the West by Srila Prabhupada in 1965, and then taken back to India by Prabhupada with his ‘dancing white elephants' in 1970. This was a name Srila Prabhupada used to describe his Western devotees he had brought with him to India for the purpose of building ISKCON temples all over India. In this way, ISKCON would help rejuvenate and re-establish the worship of Krishna, the original cause of all causes, Lord Caitanya, so that the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, meant for this age of Kali-yuga, can spread to all those of Hindu background and bring about a spiritual revolution within India.
It was further emphasised, as we watched this massive Hindu invasion of Melbourne temple on Janmastami day, that we must not just preach to the Indian Hindus who are coming on their own accord anyway, due to Krishna being part of their ancient tradition. We, including those of Indian birth, must also be determined to preach to all others, regardless of religious or cultural backgrounds. Krishna or God is for everyone and is in every living being's heart.
What ISKCON is offering to all the Hindus who are taking citizenship in Australia is the basic foundations of the faith of their birth, above the customary demigod worship many of them were accustomed to back in India. However, the brahmacaris were reminded to keep up the mood of Srila Prabhupada and preach to everyone regardless if they worshiped the demigods, or race or culture. The main focus is to also keep attracting those of Western backgrounds and follow the disposition and example of preaching Srila Prabhupada set for us all.