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Recognising God's Will

Late Brig Hardit Singh

Japji is the prime rubric of Guru Nanak Dev (1469-1539), which was composed by him towards the end of his life. It contains the entire Sikh philosophy and Guru Nanak’s highest mystic insight and revelation. After portraying the characteristics and attributes of the Supreme Reality in the creedal statement, i.e., the Mool Mantra, the opening sloka of the Japji describes God as the only True One – the Abiding Reality that is not subject to the ravages of time, and remains True One in all the ages.

In the first stanza (Pauri 1) of the Japji, Guru Nanak mentions then current modes of worship for realization of God, such as bathing (in holy places), observing silence, fasting and intellectualism. After rejecting these practices as of little or no value, as these pertain to the physical body and not to the soul, he poses a question – ‘How then, can we achieve attunement to the True One (Sachiara) and how shall the wall of ignorance or falsehood (Koor-di-Pal) be rent apart?’ The Guru himself answers it in the next verse – “By living attuned to His Will (Hukam) and Pleasure (Raza) which is embedded in the core of human conscience or soul.’1

In the above question and answer serial, Guru Nanak has used four terms, i.e., Sachiara, Hukam, Raza, Koor-di-pal (ego) which need explanation before recognizing God’s Will imbedded in the human soul.

Sachiara means attuned to God, God filled, God inspired, God incarnate with all the godly qualities like truthfulness, compassion, contentment, and nobility.2 Truthful living and service to His creation is more important than merely having his mystic vision or power which may follow and not precede it – “Truth is higher than everything, but higher still is truthful living”.3

Guru Arjun Dev (1563-1606) in his Sukhmani (Psalm of Peace) canto – 8 dwells on the qualities and virtues of a Sachiara. A few excerpts are given below:

“He thinks the True One, talks the True One, And sees nothing but the True One anywhere.
The God-awakened man lives pure amid the impurities of the world.
While always counteracting evil, he keeps himself unsullied.
He looks on all with the same benevolence.
He possesses his soul uniformly in patience.
He is in his nature like the fire that warms and lights and cleans."

– Guru Granth Sahib, p 272

The ultimate divine aim of human life, according to Guru Nanak, is to become a Sachiara. God Himself is Sachiara.4 Those who imbibe the glory of God also become Sachiara.5

Hukam and Raza
Hukam encompasses Divine Will or Command Divine, Decree, Universal Laws of Nature, Moral Law, Universal Order and Divine Principles. The entire creation is His Divine Will. It is the Divine Will that creates, nourishes, sustains and dissolves the universe. Everything happens as He commands and nothing is beyond His control. Only that which pleases Him comes to pass. God lives in all things and manifests His glory. Whatever appears in action is prompted by His Will, and there is no other doer. The Guru explains His Will in the next Pauri II after stressing that “The Will is inexpressible”:

“By divine command all forms manifest.
Unfathomable, unthinkable, is the Lord’s behest.
Souls dwell in their bodies by His command;
Some lowly, some exalted, and others grand.
Divinely ordained, men are made high and low,
By His order they live in joy or sorrow.
Upon some, by His order, grace is bestowed,
While others must tread transmigration’s long road.
All of the world by His law are controlled;
None can escape His sustaining hold.

Nanak says :

If man would only embrace God’s command,
Egoless, noble and free would he stand.”

– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1
(Translation By Swami Rama)

Raza like Hukam is Arabic. It means consent, acquiesce, submission or resignation to the Pleasure of God. Basically, Raza and Hukam are almost synonymous, but Raza also carries the imprint of Ordainer’s Will. Divine Raza is not arbitrary or ordinary order, as it also carries His Behest and pleasure to which devotes submit voluntarily and gladly, as they are convinced that whatever God desires is the best and good for them. They keep away their own selfish wishes and cleverness.6 Living in conformity with and obedience to the Divine Behest is identification and involvement in the Divine Cause. It was under this holy design that Guru Arjun Dev gladly bore all the severe tortures inflicted on him by the Mughal emperor Jahangir. “Sweet is His Will”7 and “Whatever pleases Him, that alone is good for me”8 – was his reply to Sain Mian Mir’s outcry against the barbarities.

God’s ways are inscrutable. Things happen as He wishes. People carry on the work assigned to them as is His Will. The best way to abide by His Hukam and Raza is to make His Will our own, i.e., we should accept gladly whatever pleases Him. Only those who attune themselves to the Will of God become acceptable for admission into His court.9 Hukam is understood through the grace of God, when a devotee begins to practice the word of the Guru.

Egotism (Koor-di-pal)
The reason for discarding the mortal, mental and intellectual practices like bathing, fasting, etc., is that these are materialistic approaches which provide no strength to the soul, whereas God is moral and spiritual Being. Instead of being of any value, these practices generally lead to egotism. Egotism also arises from a feeling of superiority due to caste, wealth, vanity, power or status. Egotism is a pernicious malady1 0 It is the main cause of human suffering. Yet it is the tiny ego granted by the Almighty, which gives us individuality and leads us to action. The inflated ego is an impediment (koor-di-pal) which stands in the way of God realization. Its remedy lies when, through the grace of God, a person’s tiny will is attuned to the supreme will by practising the word of the Guru”1 1 Naam and ego are opposed to each other, the two cannot abide together.1 2 Guru Nanak in his Asa-di-Var – VII dwells at length on all the aspects of egotism. In one verse of this Var he says:

“By his ego, man degrades himself from the human order,
Is wise or foolish,
And looses all consciousness of salvation.
By the ego, he is in maya self-obscured,
And goes into lives of different creatures.
Man can see the gate of heaven only if he understands the self”

– Guru Granth Sahib, p. 466

Surrendering the ego to His Will and Pleasure is living in harmony with the source of all the power and might, and that is God. Gurbani confirms that ego is the Koor-di-pal.1 3

Ego can be harnessed and not all together eliminated by (a) cultivation of humility – “Happy are the meek in spirit, who efface themselves”1 4 – b) practicing the Guru’s word,1 5 and (c) by obeying the Guru’s command.1 6 Once the fire of ego is extinguished, the gateway to Him opens up and one merges with the Lord.1 7

Recognizing God’s Will
We have discussed above, who is a Sachiara, his qualities, virtues, his love for God and His creation and his truthful living. Moulding our lives in conformity with and obedience to the Divine Will and Pleasure is the true import of Hukam and Raza. Ego is the Koor-di-pal which separates us from God, and how it can be harnessed has also been examined. The challenge now is to recognize the Hukam which is ingrained in our soul.

Guru Nanak in one of his Gurbani verses has stated “The Satguru, i.e., God had revealed that there is only one Hukam and that is Naam”1 8. Naam mainly implies remembrance of God. In another verse he has further informed that “Remembrance of God, i.e., Naam is ingrained in the deepest recess of the mind and body.1 9 The specific Hukam is thus the Name of God – Naam. The Hukam also proves its presence in our soul when our conscience sends warning signals against our bad intentions and reflects pleasure at our noble deeds. By listening and acting on these instructions, a devotee reforms himself to become a better person. Again the Hukam manifests itself in another way. Elders have an ingrained wish, or for that matter all human beings desire that their relatives and children are well behaved and obedient to them to win their favour.

The very mission of Guru Nanak was propagation of Naam. It is the cornerstone of Guru Nanak’s gospel and thrust of gurbani.2 0 In the Pauri V and VI of Japji itself, it is said, “O, God, make me realise that may I never forget the One Lord”2 1. In Pauri XIX, he says that “Whatever He has manifested is His Naam.”2 2 The exalted status of Naam is further stressed in Pauri XXIV as “Great is the Lord, high is His seat, most exalted is His Naam.”2 3 Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the Enthroned Word, is the repository of Naam. Every verse in it exhorts us to constantly remember Him. To Guru Nanak, life is Naam and death is in its forgetting.2 4 Above all, the original and prehistoric Name of God is Satnaam.”2 5

Peace here in this world and beyond comes from understanding His Hukam of remembering Him.2 6 Those who do not obey His Hukam remain in pain.2 7 Apart, the Naam is the only potent detergent that washes the soiled mind of its impurities.2 8 Once the mind is cleansed of its impurities by practicing the Guru’s Word, the ego disappears and we become Sachiaras. Naam thus is the Hukam ingrained in our soul.



1 Kiv sachiara hoeye kiv koore tute pal,
Hukam rajayae chalna Nanak likhya nal
. – Guru Granth Sahib, p 1
2. Sachiari sach sanchia sacho naam amol. – Guru Granth Sahib, p 937
3. Sacho ure sabh ko, upar sach achar – Guru Granth Sahib, p 62
4. a) Nanak aeve janie sab ape sachiar – Guru Granth Sahib, p 2
b) Tun sacha sachiar, jin sach vartaiya – Guru Granth Sahib, p 1279
5. Suche saye Nanka, jin mun vasiya soye – Guru Granth Sahib, p 472
6. Jo kish kare so bhala kar manie, hikmat hukam chokaye – Guru Granth Sahib, p 1132.
7. Tera kiya mitha lage – Guru Granth Sahib, p 394
8. Jo tudh bhave saye bhali kar – Guru Granth Sahib, p 3
9. Hukam rajayee jo chale, so pave khazane – Guru Granth Sahib, p 421.
10. Haumain dirag rog hai– Guru Granth Sahib, p 166
11. Kirpa kare je apni tan gur ka shabad kumaye – Guru Granth Sahib, p 466.
12. Haumain nave nal virod hai, doe na vase ik thaen” – Guru Granth Sahib, p 560.
13. Haun haun bheet bhio hai beecho – Guru Granth Sahib, p 624
14. Sukhi vase muskinian ap nivar tale – Guru Granth Sahib, p 278.
15. Jap har har haumain mari – Guru Granth Sahib, p 666.
16. Nanak hukme je bhuje, ta haumain kahe na koye – Guru Granth Sahib, p 1
17. Haumain bhuje tan dur sujhe – Guru Granth Sahib, p 466
18. Eko Naam hukam hai, Nanak satgur diya bhujae jio – Guru Granth Sahib, p 72
19. Simar govind mun tun dhur likhya – Guru Granth Sahib, p 199.
20. Nanak ke ghar kewal naam – Guru Granth Sahib, p 1136
21. Guran ik deh bhujae sabhnau jia ka ik data so main bisar na jaiyae – Guru Granth Sahib, p 2
22. Jeta keeta teta nao – Guru Granth Sahib, p 4
23. Vada sahib, ucha thao, uche upar ucha nao – Guru Granth Sahib, p 5
24. Akha jiva, visre mar jao – Guru Granth Sahib, p 349
25. Satnam tera parapurbala – Guru Granth Sahib, p 1083
26. Tis ka hukam bhooj sukh hoye – Guru Granth Sahib, p 281
27. a) Tab lug hukam na bhujaiye, tub lug lau dhukhiya – Guru Granth Sahib, p 400.
b) Dukh tade, ja visar jave – Page 98
28. Bharie mut papa ke sung, oh dhope nava ke rung – Guru Granth Sahib, p 5



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