Q44. What is grace?
If the theory of Karma were carried to its logical extreme, no man would deserve redemption. In Sikhism, the doctrine of Karma is modified by the "Principle of Grace". Man's sincere efforts and noble deeds achieve precious little. What is required is a constant solicitation of His aid in effort of spiritual endeavour. Recitation of Gurbani, meditation, acts of love and charity are merely a means to win His Grace.
An humble devotee, like the true bride, surrenders everything to the pleasure of her lord. Surrender to God does not mean slavery but freedom and the extension of one's horizons. Exemplary conduct, good actions and sweet words are necessary, but without Grace, they produce no result. According to Guru Nanak, Karma can abe undone only by His Grace. Just as it is the privilege of the Head of the State to pardon a felon who has been duly convicted by a court of law, in the same way, it is God's prerogative alone to redeem evil-doers and enable them to enter His Kingdom. It is His privilege to grant Grace to those whom He likes. Accordting to J.C. Archer, the Sovereignty and Omnipotence of God is manifold in his dispensation of His Grace.
The doctrine of Grace, does not mean that there are certain chosen prophets and chosen people, God does not have any favourites nor does He make any arbitrary choice. A devotee only prepares himself for being the recipient of His favour. He must empty his mind of evil and fill it with "The Name". This alone creates an awareness of the presence of God within one's self.
The Grace of God may come to the scholar or the unlettered, the high or the low, the rich or the poor. It does not depend on birth, knowledge wisdom or penance. Those who seek His Grace through service and humility understand the purpose of life. Fire lies dormant in wood; one has to kindle it by effort. To realize the Truth is to get in tune with the Infinite.
The Almighty is so Grace abounding-Kirpanidh-that the receiver shouts to Him: "Enough, no more" His bounties know no limit or hindrance.