Walking the Will: “Hukam Rajai Chalna…..”
Hukam or ‘Divine Will’, as we know it. Haven’t you wondered where do we draw the line? If it is the divine will, that controls what happens then what part do our vices play, don’t our actions matter? Then all those engaged in wrongdoing are absolved? How about those people who have been treated poorly by others? Are they to accept mistreatment as divine will, and not strive to stand up for themselves? Growing up as a Sikh woman, I looked around and saw many sisters, friends, aunties enduring so much sexism and I often wondered about all this. Was it destiny that controlled all?
What is our role? How does hukam apply in everyone’s existence? Where do I find the answers?
I had read that “… when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” – Paul Coelho, ‘The Alchemist’. This quote materialized for me. As a woman who was juggling various roles, duties and responsibilities in life, the Sikh in me would nudge, tickle my inner most sentiments about my much loved, yet much to unravel spirituality (Sikhi). So many questions, so many thoughts… how do I embark on this journey? And baby steps with AWAT (A Word A Thought from Gurbani) was a gift to me from the universe.
While editing the recent Jap Ji series for AWAT, I got the opportunity to delve into this concept. Everyone knows the value of Jap Ji Sahib. In our tradition, all are encouraged to teach their children this beautiful Bani. Guru Nanak has bestowed us with simple yet life enlightening philosophy in Jap Ji Sahib. One of the key messages is what I will share with you. The law of hukam – we need to understand what hukam is, and how is this concept applicable in our lives. The Jap Ji series by AWAT surmises this very aptly.
The first stanza of Jap Ji concluded with the advice – “walk in accordance with hukam”. The second stanza now defines hukam. It is the “divine or cosmic order or law” by which every action and reaction that is happening in this universe is governed. It is synonymous with the laws of nature, the laws of the universe that we must comprehend and accept because they are inviolable. Nothing can happen outside of these laws. These laws apply to every one of us. We reap what we sow.
Two things stood out to me. Firstly, that one needs to “walk in accordance with hukam” which to me meant that I have to accept hukam and live with the faith that whatever happens is ordained. Secondly, that divine law governs the universe. Every action and reaction is part of this cosmic law. And I saw more clarity – We reap what we sow. There you go! My inner conversations with myself began.
My mind deliberated upon those questions in the exposition of this article. Yes divine will, controls what happens and yes – our actions, our vices and more importantly our reactions too matter. You may query, “How this is so?” Let me explain my understanding. We need to see that the cosmic law which resonates with Gurbani’s fundamental teachings also resonates with the main tenets of most religious teachings and the words of great philosophers! And that is the universal law of goodwill, of nature, and of the greater good of mankind. AWAT also mentions that “the laws of nature, the laws of the universe, we must comprehend and accept because they are inviolable”. Because most of us have failed to see that these fundamentals are “inviolable” is why there is so much sadness, sorrow permeating the cosmos. Gurbani advocates:
ਨਾ ਕੋ ਬੈਰੀ ਨਹੀ ਬਿਗਾਨਾ ਸਗਲ ਸੰਗਿ ਹਮ ਕਉ ਬਨਿ ਆਈ॥
naa ko bairee nahee bigaanaa sagal sang ham kau ban aaee.
No one is my enemy, and no one is a stranger, I get along with everyone.
ਜੋ ਪ੍ਰਭ ਕੀਨੋ ਸੋ ਭਲ ਮਾਨਿਓ ਏਹ ਸੁਮਤਿ ਸਾਧੂ ਤੇ ਪਾਈ॥
jo prabh keeno so bhal maanio eh sumat saadhoo te paaee.
I have obtained this sublime wisdom from the Guru, and whatever the Divine does, I accept that as good.
ਸਭ ਮਹਿ ਰਵਿ ਰਹਿਆ ਪ੍ਰਭੁ ਏਕੈ ਪੇਖਿ ਪੇਖਿ ਨਾਨਕ ਬਿਗਸਾਈ॥
sabh mahi rav rehiaa prabh ekai pekh pekh naanak bigsaaee.
Nanak: The One God is pervading in all; beholding Him permeating everywhere, I blossom forth in happiness. (SGGS, 1299)
This is what Gurbani’s message is, that the Divine resides in all, and therefore we must treat others as embodiments of the Divine. This universality of ‘live and let live’ is present elsewhere too:
“To be good and to do good, that is the whole of religion.” – Swami Vivekanand
“Do not do onto others as you do not want others to do onto you.” – Christianity
“We chose our destiny in the way we treat others.” – Buddha
“Serve God… and do good – to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, … For God loveth not the arrogant, the vainglorious” – Islam
“Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” – Immanuel Kant
“Happiness springs from doing good to others.” – Plato
These and many more countless wise have reiterated this. Have we lived our lives on this value system? Those who do not treat others right, sow seeds in the universe which will warrant actions and reactions from others in time. Thus violating hukam, one will reap the fruits as per hukam too, be it ripe or rotten fruits.
Those ever so good people, who put up with others’ injustice and oppression, will suffer for their weakness unless they stand up for what is right.
Do good and be good. Do wrong to none. Do not let wrong be done to you.
So my friends, walking with hukam to me means to live life in accordance with humanity in general. To earn your honest livelihood, to be mindful and conscious of the divinity and to share and spread goodwill to all – kirat karni, naam japna, wand chhakna in today’s context.
Thanks again to AWAT for leading me to renewed understandings of spirituality.
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