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Because devotees live in the world, they sometimes feel influenced by it. This happens by a process of osmosis, whereby one gradually, and often unconsciously, assimilates his environment. As you breathe in the atmosphere of the non-devotees, it is likely that you will become somewhat like them. Devotees begin following the latest trends in electronic appliances, clothing fashions, and street slang. It is not necessarily wrong to be aware of the latest "state-of-the-art" computers, because such things can be used in the service of Krsna. But it may be that a devotee becomes motivated by desires other than pure service. We are not immune to the psychological influence of advertising and political propaganda that affects everyone else in society. Businessmen see devotees as just another type of customer, even if dressed a little strangely. And so devotees become sucked into the same traps as everyone else, because we live in the world. From the viewpoint of pure devotional service, these are obstacles on the path.
In order to protect the devotees from being absorbed into the "pop" consciousness of mundane society, Srila Prabhupada created a subculture. Included in the charter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, as written by Srila Prabhupada, are several references to a society of devotees:
(1) To bring the members of the Society together with each other and nearer to Krishna, the Prime Entity, thus to develop the idea within the members, and humanity at large, that each soul is part and parcel of the quality of Godhead (Krishna).
(2)To erect for the members and for society at large, a holy place of transcendental pastimes, dedicated to the Personality of Krishna.
(3)To bring the members closer together for the purpose of teaching a simpler and more natural way of life.
The Krsna conscious society lives within the buildings of ISKCON. The society is also found in the congregation of devotees who live in their own homes, but who sometimes gather together in the temple or in each other's homes for the purpose of sharing Krsna consciousness. Devotees are social beings, and so the obstacle of being too influenced by the mundane world can only be surmounted by living in the society of like-minded friends.