6. “In this Kali Yuga, no one is interested in good Karma” Good Works, Transmigration and God’s Will

“ਇਸੁ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ”

The doctrine of Karma (works) is closely related with the theory of rebirth and transmigration (Samsara-Chakra). “Coming and going” (Avagaman) is the most popular phrase used by the Gurus for the concept of transmigration. It states that the soul (Atman) must pass through in its journey to final liberation. According to Sikh law of Karma this present life, is the product of a man’s actions of his past life. Therefore, he reaps what he sows, “The body is the field of Karma in this age; whatever you plant, you shall harvest” (SGGS, p. 78).[1]

Guru Granth further asserts that humans have obtained this prized human birth, which is the highest possible way to find emancipation while he is on this Earth. But none is involved in good Karma,In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, no one is interested in good Karma, or Dharmic faith” (SGGS, p. 161).[2] It further says, “The self-willed manmukhs create Karma, and in the Court of the Lord, they receive their punishment” (SGGS, p.33),[3]andthe punishment for their bad Karma is rebirth, “The blind, self-willed manmukhs come and go in reincarnation” (SGGS, p. 161).[4]

The Guru accepted the doctrine of Karma not as unchangeable as seen in Indian religious traditions rather as a system of nature. Karma is whether good or bad, whether past or present, whether old or new are subject to Hukam (Divine law, Divine will or Divine pleasure (bhana, raza); Divine fiat (amar, farman); Divine power or Divine creation (qudarat)and Nadar (Divine Grace).Thus, though the law of Karma and Samsara- Chakara are very similar to Hinduism yet they are slight different from Hinduism. Consequently, Karma becomes the part of divine law (Hukam) in Sikh belief to achieve bliss.

To escape from Samsara-Chakara or in other wordsbad Karmas, Guru Nanak suggested that one should gain knowledge of Hukam thereby should submit to God’s will (Raza). About the Will of the Almighty Lord, Guru Nanak says, “How can one become pure; how can the veil of illusion be torn away? O Nanak, walk in His Hukam; it is written in your destiny” (SGGS, p.1).[5] To add in it, Guru Granth further says: “Realizing the Hukam, one obtains the True Lord” (SGGS, p. 1169).[6] Accordingly, living in harmony with the

“Divine Will” or “Hukam” brings everlasting peace. So, the bottom line is that a Sikh must bring his will in line with the Will of God or Hukam, “Recognizing the Hukam of His Command, you shall meet with your Lord and Master”[7]

SGGS,  p. 92

Therefore, to sum up the doctrine of Karma one finds that a Sikh‘s ultimate goal is the achievement of Saachkhand (Gods dwelling place). It is moving from Manmukha (self-willed person) to Gurmukha (a person subjected to the will of God), “O Nanak, the Gurmukhs recognize the Lord; in His Mercy, He unites them with Himself” (SGGS, p.444).[8]  When a Bhakta submits himself to the order of God and lives according to His will (Raza).  One receives the divine grace (Nadar, which annihilates Haumai (I-ness) thereby liberates a person turning him into Jivan-Mukta, i.e., one is liberated while still living, “By the Karma of past actions, the robe of this physical body is obtained. By His Grace, the Gate of Liberation is found” (SGGS, p. 2).[9] Thus, to say this that, call is given to walk in the light of his Hukam and in order to walk in the light one has to meet with True Master (Satguru).

However, this again leaves a person to probe out serious questions such as why a person reaps what he sows. Why a person is not involved in good Karma.  Why his Dharmic faith is not sufficient to bring eternal peace to him. What is Hukam (Divine law, Divine will or Divine pleasure) and how one can be subject to it. How one can recognize the Hukam. How can one become a person from Manmukha (self-willed person) to Gurmukha. Where is that light through which one can be aligned with the merciful God and His Hukam? To find answers to these questions, one has to look again at the Granth Bible.

Granth Bible clearly says that, the reason why a person reaps what he sows is because, even though human being are God’s best creation, in fact the crown of Almighty’s creation, “For thou hast made him… and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:5), yet humans are separated from the most compassionate and merciful God due to his own pathetic situation, due to his own choice and due to his own rebellion:

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one”

Romans 3:11-12

As a result, his religious works are nothing but filth rages, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6). Therefore, the first point in Divine order is that due to this, no matter what means humans take, humankind is not capable enough to achieve the grace of God, because ultimately grace (Nadar) is the gift of God, something that none of us deserve by nature, for Granth Bible says, “For grace is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Thus, it does not matter, what a man would claim, what a man would teach, what a man would propose, what a man would follow, whatever ‘Name’ a man would recite based on his own thinking, whatever formula, philosophy he may be having, it all comes from the well of his filthy and dirty heart. Satguru Jesus Christ puts light on this:

“But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person”

Mathew 15:18-20

 That’s why a seeker also falls short of God’s grace, remains away from his friend, remains away from his beloved, remains separated from having union with the Almighty. The second point in the Divine order that is seen in the Granth Bible is that, humans are weak enough to achieve their own emancipation or bliss or eternal peace or Suchkhand due to sins that are bad Karmas and due to our corrupt nature that produces nothing but filth and dirt. Hence, one needs God’s grace (nadar, mehar, kirpa, karam, etc.). So, a person has to not only meet the light, but also walk in the light to find this grace.  

The grace that Granth Bible talks about has got universal scope in its nature and has absolute sufficiency for salvation or bliss. A man has to do nothing to earn this. It is granted freely. Granth Bible says that,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast”

Ephesians 2:8-9

Logically speaking, because our filthy works or bad Karmas have made us spiritually dead, hence, we have no hope to save ourselves, no hope to awaken ourselves by any mean that might include even punishing oneself, or withdrawing from this world. Granth Bible further adds saying that, Satguru Jesus Christ is, “the light of the world. Whoever follows [Him] will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Therefore, “even when we were dead in our trespasses, he made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:5).

So, what shall we say then? It is clear that, the very moment a person, a Manmukha (self-willed person) accepts and receives this grace; he becomes Gurmukha (a person subject to the will of God). He is tuned with the Hukam (Divine law, Divine will or Divine pleasure) and he is subject to it. Hukam is being further well defined in Granth Bible in term of Salvation,

“For from him [Divine law – Bhana, Divine creation (qudarat) Divine fiat (amar, farman)] and through him (Divine Grace – Nadar) and for him (Divine pleasure – Raza) are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen”

Romans 11:36

As we have seen above, no one can achieve bliss or eternal peace by his/her own efforts. No one is able enough to annihilate his Humai (I-ness). No one is able enough to get rid from theveil of illusion unless grace is achieved is granted to a devotee him. But, no one can achieve this grace of their own. Hence, it is only God’s grace that can save us. It is purely God’s doing, only he can help us because of His mercy and compassion, for He himself is light.

The grace of God has to merit us, for He himself is the very embodiment of Grace. It is the grace of God that has to equip us to get in tuned with his Hukam, for He alone can make us to understand it. Thus, the Grace of God has to help us, it is his Grace that take us to the other side of this ocean. However, in God’s Divine order to make this possible and to qualify us with God’s grace, God himself had to come down. Granth Bible says that,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.He was with God in the beginning… Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory… [we have seen him] full of grace and truth. Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given… grace and truth came through [Satguru] Jesus Christ”

John 1:1-16

To put this in a nutshell, in order to achieve the emancipation the Divine Order that is seen in Granth Bible is that, a person cannot receives God’s grace due to his/her bad Karmas.  By default a person’s nature does not qualifies them to earn this grace through whatever mean they try. However, grace is still available free of cost irrespective of one’s bad or good Karma in order to be in tuned with God and to have union with Him. On the other hand it is this grace is abundantly available through Satguru Jesus Christ, who is the very embodiment of light, truth and grace. Hence, one has to come to Him and receives it from Him. If a Sikh refuses this offer then the wordings of Guru Grantha are apt for him, “One who does not know the Hukam of the Lord’s Command cries out in terrible pain” (SGGS, p. 85).[10]

[1] ਕਰਮ ਧਰਤੀ ਸਰੀਰੁ ਜੁਗ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਜੋ ਬੋਵੈ ਸੋ ਖਾਤਿ ॥

[2] ਇਸੁ ਕਲਿਜੁਗ ਮਹਿ ਕਰਮ ਧਰਮੁ ਨ ਕੋਈ ॥ ਕਲੀ ਕਾ ਜਨਮੁ ਚੰਡਾਲ ਕੈ ਘਰਿ ਹੋਈ ॥

[3] ਮਨਮੁਖ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਵਣੇ ਦਰਗਹ ਮਿਲੈ ਸਜਾਇ ॥੧॥

[4] ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਅੰਧਾ ਆਵੈ ਜਾਇ ॥੩॥

[5] ਹੁਕਮਿ ਰਜਾਈ ਚਲਣਾ ਨਾਨਕ ਲਿਖਿਆ ਨਾਲਿ ॥੧॥

[6] ਹੁਕਮੈ ਬੂਝੈ ਤਾਂ ਸਾਚਾ ਪਾਏ ॥੪॥

[7] ਨਾਲਿ ਖਸਮੈ ਰਤੀਆ ਮਾਣਹਿ ਸੁਖਿ ਰਲੀਆਹ ॥

[8] ਨਾਨਕ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਰਾਮੁ ਪਛਾਤਾ ਕਰਿ ਕਿਰਪਾ ਆਪਿ ਮਿਲਾਵੈ ॥੭॥

[9] ਕਰਮੀ ਆਵੈ ਕਪੜਾ ਨਦਰੀ ਮੋਖੁ ਦੁਆਰੁ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਏਵੈ ਜਾਣੀਐ ਸਭੁ ਆਪੇ ਸਚਿਆਰੁ ॥੪॥

[10] ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਬਹੁਤਾ ਰੋਵੈ ॥ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਧੋਖਾ ਨੀਦ ਨ ਸੋਵੈ ॥