By Promod Puri
For contemporary society as well as in the conduct of our personal lives, one of the most relevant messages of Guru Nanak Devji is:
Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak likhyea naal.
In its simple interpretation, Nanak says, it is inevitably written that we conduct ourselves according to the will of God.
Hukam means order or command, razai means acceptance, chalna stands for walk, and likhyea naal signifies inevitably written down.
Following (razai) the walk (chalna) guided by hukam of God as inevitably written (likhyea naal), creates our basic understanding of this divine message.
The key word in the edict is Hukam, and this is where our razai or acceptance is based upon.
Does the commandment mean that we dispel all our reasons and accept every situation or event as the will of God? In other words, is this our fate, good or bad? Is this the way God wants us to accept His will without any action on our part?
In this discussion, if our answers are yes, then we are ritualistically wrong.
Hukam does not mean fate or something unavoidable. It does not mean that we accept every situation as a creation of God whether we like it or not, and we surrender to it.
Passive acceptance is the path for those who seek escape or renunciation. Nanak was against renunciation, and so were all other Sikh Gurus including Guru Gobind Singh.
The history of Sikhism is full of actions to seek righteousness. Hukum razai chalna is the sacred message which was followed by the Sikh Gurus. Rather than acceding, they fought against injustice and tyranny and sought equality for humanity. It is in this crusade and commitment that Hukam gets its legitimate and revered meaning.
Hukum is not rigid and a closed commandment, rather it encourages rational thinking followed by action. That is the entirety of Hukam. Here the word chalna (to walk) is very crucial. It instructs that we carry on with our mission until the goal is achieved.
Hukum is the beginning, and it is the end. In between are our related thoughts and actions.
Hukum is the cause of generating an effect. The latter is produced by our actions where God gives us the freedom to act according to our consciousness.
In our personal commitments, Hukam is the discipline we’re creating in the execution of resolutions we make.
The perception is when we are facing an unjust situation that conflicts with our conscious mind, then it is not the will of God. Rather it is created and imposed on us by diverse temporal factors. Our earnest response to tackle or fightback the intolerable circumstance is our pragmatic and rational understanding of Hukam.
In our personal lives when we face problems, that could be health issues, harm and ill-will inflicted on us, hatred based on race or caste reasons, etc., etc. then the divine Hukam demands to tackle the obstacle or crisis we face. Hukum razai does not mean we accept the situation and expecting “god-willing” it would go away.
Life is an entanglement of sufferings. The blissful emancipation can be achieved through Hukam-inspired righteous actions. It is not a command or an edict from a patriarchal God but our relatedness to the Divine.
VIOLATION OF HUKAM
Widening our understanding of the eternal message, let us relate it to our personal lives where we’re dealing with the situation created by our own self. And when this situation is ill-conceived, morally and ethically wrong, it goes against the will of God.
In Japji, Guru Nanak says: “Hukmae andhar sabh, bahar hukme na koe.”
A simple translation of the edict is that everybody (sabh) under His command (hukam), nobody (na koe) is beyond (bahar) His command.
The question is, what is that divine command or hukam, “signed and delivered” by Nanak, from which we should not deviate or stray.
Truly, it is a path which is referred to as the Divine Order. The moment we disregard this order, it is a violation of His Hukam.
Divine Order basically is the system established by His Hukam where we don’t create chaos and misery for ourselves or for fellow human beings, animals, plants and the environment we live in.
It is an order of ethical and moral conduct of our lives where our conscious mind generates virtuous thinking to execute virtuous actions.
This way we are neither damaging our conscious mind nor hurting others. And we are staying hukmae andhar or within His order.
The Divine Order is a disciplined and conscientious undertaking to get into the spirit of the Hukam.
In this Order resides our religiosity of being honest, humble and sincere, be considerate and helpful to others, be merciful, forget and forgive, love fellow beings and care for the environments, including animals, plants and nature. And everything else which is pious, pure and morally firm to bring us in alignment with the Guru Nanak’s dictum:
Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak Likhyea Naal.