Bhai Moola, Bhai Sooja, Bhai Chandu, Bhai Raamdaas Bhandaari, Bhai Baala and Bhai Sayeen Daas came to Siri Guru Arjun Dev jee Maharaj and asked a very important and pertinent question about way the system of Karma works in Sikhi. They asked if the Paap (sins) and Punn (good deeds) of Gursikhs are accounted for and rewarded separately or are they netted out against each other and only the remaining Paap or Punn are rewarded. In other words, their question was that as an example if someone has 100 Punns and 60 Paaps, then do they pay for 100 minus 60 = 40 Punns or do they get fruits of 100 Punns and 60 Paaps separately.
This is a very relevant question for us. Do our Punns delete our Paaps and do our Paaps dampen the fruits of our Punns or are the Paaps and Punns accounted for separately and the Jeev gets fruits of all the Punns and Paaps they commit.
Siri Guru Arjun Dev jee in response to their question, informed them that for the purpose of the accountability of Karma, there are 4 kinds of Sikhs:
1. Sehkaam Karmi
2. Nihkaam Karmi
3. Upaashna waale
Then Guru Sahib asked them, about which kind of Sikhs was their question related to. The Sikhs with folded hands and extreme humility requested Guru Sahib to tell them about all 4 kinds of Sikhs and how Karma affects them differently.
Hereon, the summary of Guru Sahib's Updesh, as written by Bhai Mani Singh jee in Sikha dee Bhagatmaala, is presented:
In the rule of a king, there are 4 kinds of citizens. The first kind pay taxes based on a certain percentage and no matter what, they have to pay their share. The second kind have a fixed amount they pay as taxes and even if their income is high, still they end up paying little taxes and get to keep most of their wealth. The third kind are close to the king and sometimes present the king with good horses or other gifts and as a result they enjoy tax free income and also get many other perks. The fourth kind are the Maafi citizens who are very close to the king. They go about travelling with the king and instead of paying taxes, they get paid by the state for being close to the king.
Same way, Maharaj jee too has 4 kinds of Sikhs:
Sehkaam Karmi, the first type of Sikhs are Sikhs in appearance only but all their priorities are Maya related. Any Karma related to Dharma that they do is only to forward their Maya related agenda. Any Paath or Naam Simran they do is only for their selfish needs. On the heads of such people, the stick of Jamdoots (messengers of death) always remains. Their Paaps and Punns are accounted for separately. If they have total of 160 Karma which include 80 Punns and 80 Paaps, they get fruits of all 160 Karams and none of their sins are netted out against their good deeds. Depending on their Karma, they enjoy the fruits of heaven and hell in the next world. Since they are Sikhs, they do get to be born in the homes of rich and prosperous people in their next life and occasionally are given opportunities to earn Gurmat related Karma - Naam Simran and Gurbani Paath.
Nihkaam Karmi, the second type of Sikhs, they become Sikhs not out of some greed or vested interest but because they like to be Dharmi (religious). They do good deeds and religious deeds out of pleasure and because such is their natural disposition, as opposed to doing it just for their Maya-related agenda. Even though they have natural tendency to do good deeds, still they do end up committing many sins as well because due to lack of serious Naam Simran and Gurbani Paath, they come under the influence of Maya and 5 Bikaars. Their Paaps and Punns are taken together and evened out and they only pay for their remaining Karma. As an example, if a Nihkaam Karmi Sikh has a total of 160 Karma which include 100 Punns and 60 Paaps, most of their Karma are netted out and they pay the fruits of only 40 Karma. Their sins are netted out against their good deeds and they seldom go to hell as a punishment of their sins. They get to be born in homes of Sant Gursikhs and are given ample opportunities to engage in Naam Simran and Gurbani Paath.
Upaashna Waale Sikh: Upaashna waale Sikhs are such Sikhs who have their priority set on Naam and Gurbani Paath only. Their natural disposition is religious and they willingly do only good Karma. They always do Punns and spend time in Naam Abhyaas and Gurbani Paath but still contrary to their natural disposition, they commit some Paaps (sins) as a result of their Prarabadh (destiny) or when they come under the influence of Bikaars. Guru Sahib forgives their Paaps and if such Gursikhs don't reach their spiritual destiny, then they take another Janam and are born in the homes of Sant Gursikhs and eventually get Gyaan and are released from birth and death.
Gyani: Gyan Gursikhs who have realized their self as well as Vaheguru, consider this world to be Mithiya (false). They reject the system of Karma and depend solely on Vaheguru jee's Naam. Since they don't associate with Haume, none of their Karma falls under the Karma system. Just as darkness does not go near sun, same way Bikaars and Paaps don't go near Gyani Gursikhs. They are free from Karma. They neither get rewarded for their Punns nor get punished for their mistakes. First of all they don't commit any mistake but if they unwittingly do commit a mistake as per this Gurbani Pankiti: ਜੇ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਭੁਲਿ ਚੁਕਿ ਬੋਲਦੇ ਭੀ ਖਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥, they are not held accountable for it. Then the Gursikhs asked Guru Sahib as to what happens to the Punns that are done by a Gyani and the mistakes they make. Guru Sahib gave the most interesting and revealing answer. Guru Sahib said that since the Gyani rises above the effect of Karma, any Punns that they do during their life here on Earth, are given to the ones who serve them. In other words, the Gursikhs who serve the Gyani Gursikhs, get the rewards of the Punns done by Gyani Gursikhs. On the other hand the ones who slander Gyani Gursikhs, get the fruit of unwitting mistakes committed by the Gyani Gursikhs. Gyani stays Nirlep (aloof) from all effects and fruits of Paaps and Punns.
As for the future of these 4 types of Gursikhs, the Sehkaam Karmi Sikhs are born in heavens and other high realms where they enjoy good life and then come back on Earth and are born in the homes of rich and prosperous people. They occasionally get chance to earn Gursikhi and eventually over many life forms, slowly rise to become Jeevan Mukat.
The Nihkaam Karmi and Upaashna waale Gursikhs get to go to higher Khands and are reborn here in this world in the homes of Sant Gursikhs. They get many chances of doing Bhagti and they get to meet Sadh Sangat. Eventually they become Gyani Gursikhs and get everlasting blissful life in Sachkhand.
Gyani Gursikhs of course get to go to Sachkhand after their exhausting their time here on Earth.
The above thoughts are in accordance to Gurmat. In religions like Buddhism and many sects of Hinduism, the system of Karma is all powerful and totally independent. In Gurmat, the system of Karma is there but it is not run automatically (especially for Gursikhs) but Vaheguru jee is actively involved as a witness of the Karams of Jeevs and in giving the fruits of the good and bad Karma of Jeevs and Gursikhs. It seems natural that everyone cannot be given the same fruit of a single Karma.
Let's take a worldly example to illustrate the point that all sinner are not treated equally by Vaheguru. If a repeat offender goes to the court of a worldly judge, the judge is likely to give him the maximum sentence possible and on the other hand if a first time offender goes to the same judge for the same offense as the repeat offender, then the judge is likely to go easy on the first time offender. Same way, a Gursikh who is indulged in Naam, Gurbani and Punns for the most part would get much less punishment for a rare sin as opposed to a Sikh of first stage who is still very much engaged in Maya.
This Updesh of Guru Sahib should prompt us to strive to become Gyani Gursikhs and at least at the current time be at the level of Upaashna waale Gursikh, who are always eager to do Bhagti by engaging in Naam Abhyaas, Gurbani Kirtan and Paath. Guru Sahib Kirpa Karan.