KARMA, FREEWILL & HUKAM IN SIKHISM source: "Introduction To Sikism" - Author: Dr. Gobind Singh Mansukhani Q42. What is Karma? The scientific concept of cause and effect, action and reaction is called the law of Karma(in religious parlance). A man reaps what he sows. Is it not typical that in spite of the law of Karma, man expects nectar after sowing poison? Just as our present life is the result of our past Karma, the present Karma will determine our future life. Karma operates in this life and successive ones. The law of Karma does not cease to operate after death, because death is just a matter of physical disintegration, and has no effect on the soul, which survives. God is the Creator of the first Karma, the origin of the universe, and the destroyer of Karma. Good or evil by frequent repetition leave their impression on character. A man doing wicked deeds continuously will turn into a bad character. This produces states of mind, like anxiety, fear and guilt, all of which will cause pain and suffering to the individual. Karma does not mean that everything is preordained and that man has no freewill. He carries his past Karma in the form of character. It is his own actions that make him what he is. Guru Nanak says, "The record of my deeds cannot be effaced because God has recorded them." Man has to sow seeds, the choice and the initiative to certain extent. He also has the ability to change the course of events even though circumscribed by heredity and environment. God as the Ruler of the Universe controls the over-all destiny of individual. Like the prodigal son, sinners turn to Him only as the last resort. Sikhism modified the theory of Karma in two directions. Firstly, efforts of the individual are necessary for improving his own condition. Man is responsible for his lot. He must not blame God for his destiny. He must think of the present and the future. Secondly, Karma can be changed by prayer and the Grace of God. When an individual learns to submit to His will, he ceases to make new Karma. He offers all his actions to Him; he acts as the instrument of His Will. According to Sikhism, all past Karma may then be erased through the association with saints, and meditation on "The Name". Q43. Is there Fate or Freewill, according to Sikhism? Sikhism affirms the omnipotence of God and consequently modifies the concept of Karma. Man is not a helpless puppet. The course of fate may be compared to the flow of a river, while individual action may look like an eddy, or a whirlpool or a wave. Man has a dual role: firstly, as a person in a particular community and environment, working under certain limitations, and secondly, as an individual with a free will, wanting to do this thing or that to elevate himself. He is like a merchant trading with a certain capital. He may lose it or invest it wisely, to earn profit. He is free to sow the seed, but once he has done so, he has no option other than to reap the fruit. Predestination is responsible for the present; but the present gives us an opportunity to mould our future. It is just like the rotation and revolutions of the earth. The earth revolves around the sun and is influenced by it, but it also has its own motion. According to Sikhism, man is an action being, a Karma Yogi, who has to overcome his difficulties with understanding and wisdom. The effort of the individual should take the form of detached action and not, feeding his ego. He must work altruistically, for mankind, and not for the self. Spiritual effort has to be blessed by Divine favor in order to be successful. This effort requires self-surrender, to His Will. If man works selfishly, in Maya, he suffers; if he works selflessly according to the Will of God he is saved. This self-surrender is a conscious effort to win divine grace. The self-effort is to bring the Divine Will and individual free will into harmony. That is how the two wills become reconciled. Man's salvation lies in his own effort to drown his Ego in the Divine Will. Guru Nanak explains the point through a metaphor: "The mind is the paper on which are recorded in the sum of our deeds, good and bad, the impressions, of the habits of our cumulative past. Against this, and limitless are the virtues of our Lord, for He turneth dross into gold and the fires(passions) of the body extinguish." Q32. What is Hukam? Hukam means order: that is God's order. By God's order all forms came into existence. The Divine Will is responsible for the creation, sustenance and dissolution of man and the Universe. Whatever happens is by His Will. Hukam takes the form of Natural Laws or Universal axioms. All the parts of the Universe are under His control. According to Sikhism, true happiness is attained by accepting and submitting to the Divine Will. Guru Nanak says: "How can I be truthful and break the wall of falsehood? By submission to His Will, as it is ingrained in me." [SIZE=-1](A.G., p.1)[/SIZE] Living in harmony with the Divine Will brings everlasting peace. Like a child, the disciple is to be guided by the elders. Everything emanates from Him and is, therefore significant. Saints and martyrs, in spite of occult powers, have submitted to torture and death in order to honour His Will. "Thy Will be done" is one of the basic principles of Sikhism. This does not imply the negation of individual volition. A Sikh must bring his will in line with the Will of God. What is God's Hukam? The Gurus tell us that God's command is that one must merge one's will in His Will. The service of God's creation is the best way of working in harmony with the Divine Will. Secondly, God desires that man who has the Divine essence in him should once again merge in Him and thereby end the cycle of Karma and transmigration. Submission to God's Will produces a sense of humility and self-abnegation. When man surrenders himself completely to him, he regards himself as an instrument of His Will. He realizes that whatever comes from Him is for his own good. Every misery that he faces is a sort of mercy. He is full of gratitude and prayer for all he has done. Guru Arjan says: "What pleases Thee, O Lord, that is acceptable. To Thy Will, I am a sacrifice." [SIZE=-1](A.G., p.676) [/SIZE] The only antidote for egoism and vanity is complete surrender to His Will. Only by conquering the self, can one enter the realm of God's Grace.