New Goloka’s history reflects the changing nature and identity of its parent movement, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). At its founding in 1982 as a communal retreat (ashram), New Goloka represented a frontier outpost of an emerging American new religious movement. Leading a few dedicated celibates (monastics and students) to the town of Hillsborough, on the outskirts of North Carolina’s Triangle region (Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill), the American-born monk (sanyasi) Bir Krishna das Goswami and his disciples settled on a rural 17-acre lot that they purchased with the aid of the local Asian-Indian community.
Just as New Goloka’s roots as an ashram represent ISKCON’s earlier identity as a new religious movement deeply ingrained within the American counterculture, today’s New Goloka reflects the new realities of ISKCON and the Triangle. Twenty years later, New Goloka has become a thriving suburban temple, serving thousands of Hindu Asian-Indian devotes of the god Krsna (Krishna) and over 100 Western Hare Krishnas. The Triangle’s population has nearly doubled, and the Indian population grew by a factor of 10. The young Anglo-American converts who had joined the movement in the 60s or 70s matured, married, and had children. New Goloka became a congregation.