Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak Likhyea Naal.
Hukmae Andhar Sabh, Bahar Hukme Na Koe
These are the two separate edicts from Guru Nanak Dev. But discussing them together initiates an integrated understanding of the messages while building the desired impact of their practicality in our lives.
Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak likhyea naal in its simple meaning, implies that it is inevitably written, according to Nanak, that we conduct ourselves according to God’s will.
Hukam means order or command, razai stands for acceptance, chalna means walk, and likhyea naal means written down. To follow (razai), the walk (chalna) guided by the hukam of God as inevitably written (likhyea naal) creates our fundamental realization of the divine message from Guru Nanak Dev.
The keyword in the proclamation is Hukam, where our razai or acceptance is based.
Does it mean that we dispel all our reasons and accept every situation or event as the will of God? In other words, is that our fate, good or bad? Is this the way God wants us to accept His will without dissent or action?
If our answer is yes, then we are stereotypically and ritualistically wrong. And we miscarriage the Hukam.
Hukam does not mean fate or something unavoidable. It does not mean we accept every situation as a creation of God, whether we like it or not, and surrender to it.
Passive acceptance is the path for those who seek escape or renunciation. Nanak was against surrender, and so were all other Sikh Gurus, including Guru Gobind Singh.
The history of Sikhism is full of actions to seek righteousness and reject injustice. And that has been the Supreme Command which Nanak is professing.
Hukum razai chalna is the enlightened message that the rest of the Sikh Gurus followed. Rather than acceding, they fought against oppression and tyranny and sought equality for humanity.
It is in this crusade and commitment that Hukam gets its legitimate and revered meaning.
The reality is that when we face an unjust or grave situation that conflicts with our conscious mind, it is not God’s will. Instead, it is created and imposed on us by diverse temporal factors. Our earnest response to tackle or fight back the intolerable circumstance is our pragmatic and intelligent understanding of the 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 encounter.
Hukam-razai does not mean we accept the situation and do nothing or expect “god-willing” it would go away.
Life is an entanglement of suffering. Through Hukam-inspired ethical actions, blissful emancipation is achievable.
A reader of mine has very prudently and concisely written:
“Hukam is, in fact, a dynamic process, not a fixed endpoint, that we can use our free will to exercise using our conscious mind. It also feels different when I hear hukam-nama now. It is not a command or a mandate from a patriarchal God but our relatedness to the Divine.”
We often deal with a situation created by ourselves. And when this situation is ill-conceived or morally and ethically wrong, it goes against the will of God.
Hukmae Andhar Sabh, Bahar Hukme Na Koe
In Japji, Guru Nanak says: “Hukmae andhar sabh, bahar hukme na koe.” A simple translation of the mandate is that everybody (sabh) is under(andhar) His command (hukam), and 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 do not deviate or stray.
Indeed, it is a path that refers to the divine order. The moment we disregard this order, it violates God’s Hukam.
Divine order is the system established by His Hukam, where we do not create chaos and misery for ourselves or fellow humans, animals, plants, and our living environment.
It is an order of ethical and moral conduct in 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 Hukum.
In this order resides our religiosity of being honest, humble, sincere, considerate and helpful to others, being merciful, forgetting and forgiving, loving fellow beings and caring for the environment, including animals, plants, and nature.
And everything else which is pious, pure, and morally firm aligns us with Guru Nanak’s universal dictum: Hukum Razai Chalna, Nanak Likhyea Naal.