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Polish Ashram

Since 2004, Radha and Paramanand, known as Renata and Franek, have been the stewards of the ashram. It once served as a holiday retreat but has transformed into a sacred sanctuary dedicated to Herakhan Baba. The emergence of this Hindu religious enclave in the heart of a small town in Lesser Poland initially posed a challenge for the local residents and their parish priest. Over time, however, relations have settled into a mutual respect, even though a Hindu temple amidst a Catholic city remains an extraordinary sight.

At the ashram, the day commences early, around 5 a.m. Franek embarks on his daily prayers within one of the rooms, serving as the sanctuary for Siva. He welcomes my presence without hesitation. The walls are adorned with paintings of Jesus Christ, Siva, and Babaji. Franek chants a few mantras, concluding the ritual. Simultaneously, Radha oversees the center’s operations, conducting yoga classes, tending to culinary duties, and maintaining cleanliness. Visitors seeking peace and harmony can readily lend a hand in these chores, ensuring that help is never in short supply.

I too eagerly join the effort, rolling up my sleeves to peel carrots and potatoes. In a few days, members of the Berlin commune are expected to arrive for a weekend retreat.

Upon their arrival, I participate in a fire ceremony, cleansing both my mind and body, alongside a small gathering of others. Under a rustic pavilion, Franek prepares a sacred hearth and offerings for the guru. He recites mantras and anoints the sacred stone with a mixture of water, milk, butter, and honey. The assembled participants contribute fresh flowers, rice, coconut, and raisins to the ritual pot.