The Concept of Nadir in Sikhi
Principal Sadhu Singh
In the search for the ultimate truth, not all are able to tread the right path, mainly because of the ignorance and the attractions of the illusory world (maya) that easily distract. In spiritual parlance, this is known as bondage and that it is possible to break free this binding force only through God’s Grace. This is amply demonstrated, and illustrated in the lives of the Sikh Gurus and their Bani and of the Bhagats in Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Over and above all, Guru Sahiban and Bhagats are sensitive to the Akal Purkh’s Grace who conferred the gift of Bani on them. Simran of Akal Purkh paves the way for His Grace. At the opportune moment Waheguru showers His grace on the deserving devout. He makes them deserving to serve Him, sing His glory and serve mankind.
What is meant by the Grace of God? It means all the good gifts we enjoy in life. Life itself is the fundamental gift, with all its delights. This gift of life includes the wonderous gift of being human and that also at the head of the creation. This is the bedrock of Grace – creation, life, human being. As humans, we are given a unique place in the created order. According to God all creation is full of grace.
Grace is generally defined as the favour of God bestowed freely on humans and that definition leaves out Buddhism because they do not believe in the existence of God. Let us examine the other major religions’ concept of Grace before discussing the concept of Grace in Sikhi.
In Christian theology, Grace is God’s gift of God’s self to human kind. It is understood by Christians to be spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved” – that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners. Christian orthodoxy has taught that the initiative in the relationship of Grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God. Roman Catholic Church holds that Grace is infused in a particular way through sacraments, while Protestantism almost universally does not hold this belief. According to Roman Catholism Grace is not just God’s loving kindness, favour or mercy, but God’s divine life itself. Through Grace people can become new creations, “partakers of the divine nature.” The essence of Grace is that it is freely offered gift, given through the sacraments, particularly baptism. According to Charles C, Ryrie modern liberal theology, “gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to effect his own salvation entirely apart from God’s Grace.” He writes that theological conservatives maintain God’s Grace is necessary for salvation.
Hindu Concept of Grace
Hindu devotional or bhakti literature available throughout India is replete with references to grace (Kirpa) as the ultimate key required for self-realization. Some, such as the ancient sage Vasistha, in his classical work Yoga Vasistha, considered it to be the only way to transcend the bondage of lifetimes of Karma. One Hindu philosopher, Madhvacharya held that Grace was not a gift from God, rather it must be earned.
Grace in Islam
Dr Umar Ali-Ashkar, Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Law, at Zarqa University in Zarqa, Jordan wrote that, “Paradise is something of immense value; a person cannot earn it by virtue of his deeds alone, but by the Grace and Mercy of Allah.” This stance is supported by Hadith: according to Abu Huraira, Mohammad once said that, “None amongst you can get into Paradise by virtue of his deeds alone…. Not even I, but that Allah should wrap me in his Grace and mercy.”
Concept of Grace in Sikhi
Sikhism is the most modern and dynamic religion of the world. The fundamental belief of Sikhi is that God exists, not merely as an idea or concept, but as a real entity, indescribable yet knowable and perceivable to anyone who is prepared to dedicate the time and energy to become perceptive to His persona. The Gurus never spoke about proofs of the existence of God. For them He is too real and obvious to need any logical proof. Guru Arjan says, “God is beyond colour and form, yet His presence is clearly visible.”
ਰੂਪੁ ਨ ਰੇਖ ਨ ਰੰਗੁ ਕਿਛੁ ਤ੍ਰਿਹੁ ਗੁਣ ਤੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਭਿੰਨ ॥
ਤਿਸਹਿ ਬੁਝਾਏ ਨਾਨਕਾ ਜਿਸੁ ਹੋਵੈ ਸੁਪ੍ਰਸੰਨ ॥
– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 283
And again “Nanak’s Lord transcends the world as well as the scriptures of the east and the west, and yet He is clearly manifest”
ਬੇਦ ਕਤੇਬ ਸੰਸਾਰ ਹਭਾ ਹੂੰ ਬਾਹਰਾ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਕਾ ਪਾਤਿਸਾਹੁ ਦਿਸੈ ਜਾਹਰਾ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 397
In any case the knowledge of the ultimate reality is not a matter for reason, it comes by revelation of the ultimate reality through ‘Nadir’ or Grace and by ‘anubhava’ or mystical experience. Says Guru Nanak “He is not accessible through intellect, or through mere scholarship or cleverness at argument; He is met, when He pleases, through devotion”
ਬੁਧਿ ਪਾਠਿ ਨ ਪਾਈਐ ਬਹੁ ਚਤੁਰਾਈਐ ਭਾਇ ਮਿਲੈ ਮਨਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਠਾਕੁਰ ਮੀਤ ਹਮਾਰੇ ਹਮ ਨਾਹੀ ਲੋਕਾਣੇ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 436
God for the Sikhs as described in the Mool Mantra, the first passage in Guru Granth Sahib and the basic formula of the faith is (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1):-
ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ ਕਰਤਾ ਪੁਰਖੁ ਨਿਰਭਉ ਨਿਰਵੈਰੁ ਅਕਾਲ ਮੂਰਤਿ ਅਜੂਨੀ ਸੈਭੰ ਗੁਰ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦਿ ॥
One Universal Creator God, the Name is Truth, Creative Being personified, No fear, No Hatred, Image of the timeless one, Beyond Birth, Self Existent, By Guru’s Grace.
The Mool Mantra ends with gurprasadi, meaning thereby that realization of God comes through Guru ‘s Grace. “Guru’ in Sikh theology appears in three different but allied connotations, viz God, the ten Sikh Gurus, the enlightened ones and the enlighteners, and the Gur-shabad or Guru’s utterances as preserved in Guru Granth Sahib. Of God’s Grace, Guru’s instructions and guidance and the scriptural shabad, the first is the most important, because, nothing happens without God’s will or pleasure. His Grace is essential to make a person inclined towards a desire and search for union with Him. The following quotes illustrate and substantiate these:
ਨਦਰੀ ਸਤਗੁਰੁ ਸੇਵੀਐ ਨਦਰੀ ਸੇਵਾ ਹੋਇ ॥
ਨਦਰੀ ਇਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੈ ਨਦਰੀ ਮਨੁ ਨਿਰਮਲੁ ਹੋਇ ॥
– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 558
ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਹਿ ਜੇ ਆਪਣੀ ਤਾ ਨਦਰੀ ਸਤਿਗੁਰੁ ਪਾਇਆ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 465
ਸਿਖੀ ਸਿਖਿਆ ਗੁਰ ਵੀਚਾਰਿ ॥ ਨਦਰੀ ਕਰਮਿ ਲਘਾਏ ਪਾਰਿ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 465
ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰੇ ਤਾ ਪਾਈਐ ਸਚੁ ਨਾਮੁ ਗੁਣਤਾਸਿ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 52
ਜਿਨ ਕਉ ਨਦਰਿ ਕਰਮੁ ਤਿਨ ਕਾਰ ॥ ਨਾਨਕ ਨਦਰੀ ਨਦਰਿ ਨਿਹਾਲ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 8
The Creator also sustains His creation compassionately and benevolently. “He is the eradicator of the pain and sorrow of the humble” (SGGS, p. 263-64)
ਦੀਨ ਦਰਦ ਦੁਖ ਭੰਜਨਾ ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਨਾਥ ਅਨਾਥ ॥
ਸਰਣਿ ਤੁਮਾਰੀ ਆਇਓ ਨਾਨਕ ਕੇ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਾਥ ॥
The universe is created, sustained and moved according to His hukam or Divine Will and Divine purpose. The inscrutable hukam is the source of all forms, all creatures. All are within the ambit of hukam; there is nothing out side of it.
ਹੁਕਮੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹੁਕਮ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥
Another principle that regulates the created being is karma (actions, deeds); it is the law of cause and effect. The popular dictum, “As one sows so shall one reap” is stressed again and again in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, pp. 134, 176, 309, 706, 730)
ਜੇਹੇ ਕਰਮ ਕਮਾਇ ਤੇਹਾ ਹੋਇਸੀ
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 730
ਜੈਸਾ ਬੀਜੈ ਸੋ ਲੁਣੇ ਜੋ ਖਟੇ ਸੋ ਖਾਇ ॥
ਅਗੈ ਪੁਛ ਨ ਹੋਵਈ ਜੇ ਸਣੁ ਨੀਸਾਣੈ ਜਾਇ ॥
– Sri Guru Granth Sahib, p. 730
In Sikhi, there is amazing kind of God’s Grace, i.e. God’s gift of redemption, the grace which prompts to repent, to strive in order to seek His Grace, to be worthy of it. Grace (Parsadi, Kirpa, Nadir) is the distinctive watchword and is found over thousand times in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The Sikh Gurus couple Grace with the Guru (Gur Parsadi), meaning that Grace is mediated through the Guru. Guru Arjan in Sukhmani Sahib’s ashtpadi no 6 reminds us that all blessings come to us not through our own merit but through God’s Grace :
ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਅਰੁ ਲੋਭ ਮੋਹ ਬਿਨਸਿ ਜਾਇ ਅਹੰਮੇਵ ॥
ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਸਰਣਾਗਤੀ ਕਰਿ ਪ੍ਰਸਾਦੁ ਗੁਰਦੇਵ ॥
Sukhmani Sahib teaches “By Grace all may be saved” All religions, especially Sikhi, teach virtuous conduct as the primary and essential step-ladder to attain Grace, a gateway to Heaven. A person qualifies only through supreme efforts for the Divine Grace.
All the civilizations, which have flourished in the world so far, have been eulogizing their own philosophies and concept of the Grace. Concept of Grace in Sikhi is modern civilization’s highest hope. Civilization is not transmitted in heredity, but has to be acquired anew by every individual. Sikhi is a faith of Grace and devotion, open to all men and women. The unique concept of Grace in Sikhi is a forward looking, joyful fulfillment of life, creative force and potent source of enlightenment. The concept of Grace in Sikhi makes Sikhi a thoroughly modern and progressive religion for all times to come. Hence, the concept of Grace has given to Sikhi its sterling and unique character.
Note : The article is based on the following:
2. The Sikhs and their Scriptures by C.H. Loehlin Ph.D.
3. Descent of Grace by Gajindar Singh
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All