The Role of Community in Spiritual Formation: An Indian-Christian Perspective
A human being is informed, formed and transformed not in isolation but in a family or community. The spiritual formation and integration of a holistic vision of life is engrained and founded on a healthy community setting. This is fundamentally a reality in religious ethos and cultures of both Hinduism and Christianity. The Hindu concept of a community has been evolved from Vedas, Bhagavad Gita and linked to the varna system (Caste) in Manusmriti is a code of conduct for Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras. Gurukula (house of a Master) style of training is envisaged in such a way that the knowledge and formative instructions are imparted to the seekers and candidates under the tutelage of a Guru (Teacher). Patanjanli’s Astanga Yoga (Eightfold steps of discipline) with a special emphasize to the principles of self-control (Yama) and the rules (Niyama) are to be seen as the best practices for spiritual formation and subsequent transformation of a student. Christian perspective of spiritual formation starts with human formation based on the teaching and life example of Jesus Christ. The Trinitarian understanding of a community presupposes unity and strong bonding. The Church as the community of faithful plays a pivotal role in the accompaniment of her members through different structures and communities. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the apostolic exhortations of different popes highlight the need for cohesiveness and collective witnessing by every faithful in the Church for a challenging testimony of the Kingdom values in the modern world. Thus, different religious communities are playing an important role in the spiritual formation of her members.