Language certainly comes from culture. This brings to light what has always troubled me in general about taking a faith out of the original cultural context. There are bound to be linguistic and cultural adaptations, and inevitably losses. There is an interesting book I read recently called, The Sacred Thread edited by Raymond Brady Williams, about diaspora Indians and how they attempt to preserve thier culture, languages, and religion in Europe and America.
Culture and language, culture and religion, they do a dance of influence back and forth. When you take a religion out of its original culture and transplant it--it will change. If it becomes the dominant religion of the new culture, it will change the culture as well.
Change, in and of itself, is not good or bad. Some of those changes might even be improvements to the religion. Some changes could be viewed either way, depending on the perspective of the observer.
In the case of Vaishnavism, I think it is too soon to tell what will happen to it as a transplant. What we are seeing right here and right now is that these concepts of Vaishnavism have escaped the institution of ISKCON, and that it does not have the final word in how it will adapt to the Western world or how the Western world will adapt to it in the long term. I think the ISKCON version of Vaishnavism is not particularly viable for the long haul, and that those who practice it in a more liberal form outside the institution will end up growing in far greater numbers.
As time goes on, people from each of the cultures Vaishnavism has been transplanted into will all be writing original Vaishnava literature in their own languages. Each language and culture will impart their own flavor and their own world view, as language has always both shaped and been shaped by how we view reality. The Bhagavad Gita itself has already been translated yet again by various followers of Prabhupada, and this trend will continue as each generation contributes their understanding and vision.
While I would certainly suggest that those who are able learn the languages necessary to view source materials in their original languages, I would also say--don't be limited by the original understandings. Religion is a living, growing thing, in my opinion (from the perspective of Anthropology), and it is meant to change over the years. How else can it meet the needs of society, which is also growing and changing?
We were sold the idea that we could practice a pure revival of an ancient religion as it was practiced 5000 years ago. I bought that for awhile, until I woke up one day and realized I was never going to be that idealized Vedic woman that existed only in my mind. I live in America and my spirituality needs to be viable here. And it can be, just not in its original form.
For that matter, no one in India today is living that lifestyle either. Their society is changing and their religions will continue to change as well. There will continue to be interchanges between Indian Vaishnavism and the transplanted forms, and we may even find some cross pollination of ideas. That would really be exciting.
In a global society, sooner or later no aspect will be untouched by influences from other cultures. Maybe that's how we'll make peace--by becoming so intertwined that we have nothing to fight over anymore. In a few thousand years, maybe?
Sorry--didn't mean to write a book. I get carried away over cultural issues.