Concept of Hukam (Will)
Hukam or Hukm in Gurbani means Will of God. Depending on the context it can have different meaning. Hukam, Bhaana, and Raza are synonymous in Gurbani. Raza also refers to God’s pleasure/approval. In other words, a human doing actions that are pleasing to Vaheguru results in him (human) living according to Raza. So we will quote verses including Hukam only.
Hukam in general sense means ‘Order’. Order can be verbal, written, or set of laws. In Gurbani, Hukam is of three types: Command, Creative Will, and Prescriptive Will. Let’s discuss all three:
Hukam - Command
ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੋਵਨਿ ਆਕਾਰ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਨ ਕਹਿਆ ਜਾਈ ॥
By His Command, bodies are created; His Command cannot be described.
ਹੁਣਿ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਹੋਆ ਮਿਹਰਵਾਣ ਦਾ ॥
Now, the Merciful Lord has issued His Command.
The entire creation came into existence by Vaheguru’s Command. Gurbani says:
ਕੀਤਾ ਪਸਾਉ ਏਕੋ ਕਵਾਉ ॥
You created the vast expanse of the Universe with One Word!
This type of Hukam is also referred to as Furmaan of Vaheguru. For example:
ਸਾਚੇ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਤੇਰਾ ਸਚੁ ਫੁਰਮਾਣੁ ॥੨॥
O True Lord and Master, True is Your Order.
Command can be Verbal or Written. But it is Hukam of Vaheguru. Verbal Command refers to God’s eternal speech. His speech is not like that of creatures but wholly unique to Him. His speech is something that behooves His majesty. Since God is not like His creation or has any resemblance to the creation, His speech is also not like anything in the creation.
Hukam – Creative Will
Creative Will refers to set of laws or orders in which the creation is created, sustained, managed, and operated, and destroyed. It is the Hukam of Vaheguru that runs the creation.
ਹੁਕਮੀ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਚਲਾਏ ਰਾਹੁ ॥
The Commander, by His Command, leads us to walk on the Path.
In the verse above, it is the Hukam of Vaheguru, not Vaheguru Himself, that runs the creation. The correct meanings are: Vaheguru’s Hukam runs the creation. The proof lies in the aunkad under the word Hukam. If there was no aunkad, the meanings would be “Vaheguru with His Hukam runs the creation”. In this case, Vaheguru would’ve been delivering commands for each thing and creature which would’ve left no room for relative free will. This is why Guru Sahib says:
ਹੁਕਮੈ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਸਭੁ ਕੋ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਹੁਕਮ ਨ ਕੋਇ ॥
Everyone is subject to His Command; no one is beyond His Command.
Everything and everyone is under Hukam. Law of karma, transmigration, birth, death, gravity etc. all come under this type of Hukam. No one can change these orders and establish new ones. For example, everyone will be judged by their karma; no one can change this. No one can establish a new system. These systems have no limits and we can never understand these to full extent. It must be understood here that even when gravity is manipulated or karma is altered, it happens according to the same laws of God (Hukam). Whatever we understand about these systems so far, it is not the end of it and we will never be able to comprehend these fully. Because these are part of Hukam and since Hukam is one with Vaheguru, it is infinite just like Vaheguru.
Hukam – Prescriptive Will
This Hukam refers to what has been prescribed to creatures to follow in order to become one with God. In other words, these set of laws are commands or injunctions for us to follow.
ਤਨੁ ਮਨੁ ਧਨੁ ਸਭੁ ਸਉਪਿ ਗੁਰ ਕਉ ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਪਾਈਐ ॥ ਹੁਕਮੁ ਮੰਨਿਹੁ ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇਰਾ ਗਾਵਹੁ ਸਚੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥
Surrender body, mind, wealth, and everything to the Guru; obey the Order of His Will, and you will find Him.
ਹੁਕਮਿ ਮੰਨਿਐ ਹੋਵੈ ਪਰਵਾਣੁ ਤਾ ਖਸਮੈ ਕਾ ਮਹਲੁ ਪਾਇਸੀ ॥
Obeying the Order of His Will, he becomes acceptable, and then, he obtains the Mansion of the Lord's Presence.
This Hukam refers to rehat prescribed to us by Vaheguru through Satguru. We have the choice (free will) whether to follow or not follow the rehat. Taking Amrit, Naam Simran, Seva, Dasvandh, etc. are all part of this Hukam. If we decide to follow, we become gursikhs otherwise we suffer the consequence by following manmat. Having a choice does not mean the rehat is optional or not required. It is absolutely required for humans to follow this Hukam to become good moral and ethical beings. Having a choice simply means that it is in our effort or power to exercise our free will to make right or wrong decisions.
So how does karma fit into this whole thing? In a nutshell, all our decisions, actions etc. are part of Prescriptive Will (Hukam). This is where we accumulate and live karma (good and bad). We make choices and decisions and then commit them to actions. So this is part of free will and Prescriptive Will. But it is not under our choice how we should be judged. So when Gurbani says we get judged according to the karma system, it is taking about the Creative Will which we cannot change.
The only way to escape karma system or transmigration is by meditating upon God’s Name (Gurmantar) because God’s Name like God Himself is free from karma. Naam is obtained from Satguru only. The only way to obtain Naam is by taking Amrit administered by Panj Pyare. There is no other way. This is the only way that Gurbani prescribes.