[PADA: Very nice analysis. ys pd]
Personally, this temple is the first I walked into, and I've always been treated very well and have done fairly well with my sadhana because of the subtle encouragement and kindness of this congregation (and let me not forget a history of transcendental prasadam). I am always treated like a devotee even though I have never been "formally" initiated.
I sing bhajan / kirtan in the temple occasionally and have even led kirtans a few times with no issues. I would like to mention that I never hear any discouraging remarks about any issue, or even mention of typical ISKCON issues such as books, rascal gurus, etc.....you know all the issues. This temple population is very active though with a growing and building devotee neighborhood with most of the neighborhood inhabited by devotees; with more to come.
So......although I am very fortunate to have knowledge of ISKCON "issues" through social media -- for my personal benefit; I am very happy that "my" temple never speculates on such items. It would be hard to describe the devotional activity here as "watered down".
There are regular in "house" programs, and the devotees are sincere, diligent, very knowledgeable, and mostly very kind. If this is "watered down"; because I would have been a lost Mayavadi without ISKCON - even with all it's corruption / scandal and rascal guru issues ---it is all I have.
Why is the Ukraine / Eastern Europe doing so well with the surge of devotee activity and attendance??? Good question! My wife is Ukrainian / Orthodox, and we have property in Kiev. I would venture that Ukraine being the third poorest nation in Europe hasn't as much going on materially as in the U.S. / West. They also have a rich Orthodox culture that is very sincere, and hasn't changed it's Liturgy perceptively for centuries (about 1700 years) with a priestly parampara that goes back to the Apostles.
I'm guessing there is, or has been, some friction from the Orthodox Church towards ISKCON, but that does not affect people like my wife and the younger generation in Ukraine. If I were to guess; I would say that a deep religious sentiment runs through the veins of the Eastern European younger generation.
And having attended many an Orthodox Mass with my wife..... well, chanting Hare Krishna, listening to Bhagavad Gita / Bhagavatam Class, darshan with the Deities, sharing Prasadam with like minded devotees in the Vegetarian effulgence of the dining facility......is just a lot more fun! Hari Bol!!!!!! So please, I personally appreciate knowing about the "issues" that affect ISKCON.
I do not want to see ISKCON "watered down".... but do not forget even the ...."watered down" ISKCON is, for my (and others probably) religious investment, still the best game in town / Universe. Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water .... and I plead, "...don't let the issues ruin your devotee association and Vedantic fun..."
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare......so simple and so overwhelming and so necessary once you have it......and without Srila Prabupada and ISKCON......even watered down......where would we be?????????