Svatantrya Temple provides a space for peace and gathering

Svatantrya Temple provides a space for peace and gathering

Svetlana Anzak, a member of the Svatantrya temple, prepares the shrine inside the temple to do puja, a Hindu prayer. Sarah Sarder

Svatantrya Temple provides a space for peace and gathering
April 26
19:34 2017

Cierra Edmondson | Contributing Writer

A light spring wind cascades in from the open windows, gently kissing the skin and causing the candle flames to dance excitedly. It is time for the gathering to begin.

The dark living room is lit by a few candles as the temple members gather on the floor around a vegan dinner.

Nestled on the corner of West Congress street sits a house. A house so average-looking that if one were searching to find a temple, as it is called, it could be easily missed, given its external appearance.

The magic of the Svatantrya Temple happens inside of its dwelling. As the definition goes, a temple can be many things, and does not have to necessarily look like what one would image a temple to be. The body, in many beliefs, is viewed as a temple. The underlying definition is that it is a sacred place of which one would practice love and worship.

“One of our intentions for creating this place is to experience oneness and community,” said Shelly Howard, a holistic counselor and body worker. “In our culture where it’s all about No. 1 and individualistic obsession, I think it’s really important and necessary to have a place where people can come to feel comfortable.”

The temple prides itself on being the very first tantric community here in Denton. Although tantra, to many people, entails an over-excess of sex and/or sexual behavior, the members of the Svatantrya Temple seek to educate what its authentic meaning is and shelter those who wish to express themselves without limits.

Components of a Hindu puja ritual sit aside a figure of a Hindu god in the Svatantrya temple, which is located inside a house on West Congress Street in Denton. Sarah Sarder

“Tantra is about the way you interact with your environment,” Chris Semler, 25, said. “The two main concepts that are studied is Shiva, which is the absolute and then the Shakti, which are the various forms of the absolute. If you act accordingly, then you are free to interact creatively with your environment. That is Tantra.”

The word svatantrya is derived from the Sanskrit word “personal or highest freedom.” Sanskrit is the primary sacred language of Hinduism and a philosophical language of Buddhism.

There are many different activities that the temple hosts and are open to the public. Guests can expect yoga, meditations, movie nights, dance nights, dinners and much more. All that the temple asks is that donations be made in return.

Many of the original community members are still around, visiting whenever they can, and still keeping in touch. Regardless of distance, however, together they continue to nurture and build their sacred space.

The important message that the temple hopes that people take with them from their time spent within its walls, is that tantra is about transcendence and love; unconditional love for yourself and love of those around you.

“It’s a place for people to come together and freely talk about spiritual ideas,” said Kristen Helpert, a temple member, mother and certified yoga teacher. “For me, I didn’t really find a place like that here until this was started. I felt like this was what Denton really needed. I love this place and fully support it.”

Peek inside of Svatantrya Temple’s ‘Spiritual Show & Tell’ here.

Featured Image: Svetlana Anzak, a member of the Svatantrya temple, prepares the shrine inside the temple to do puja, a Hindu prayer. Sarah Sarder

About Author

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder

Sarah Sarder is the Senior News Writer for the North Texas Daily.

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