Ritualistically inspired and politically promoted by the Hindutva regime of India’s Uttar Pradesh province, the world’s largest religious congregation, the Kumbh Mela, began January 15 until March 4, 2019, in the city of Praygraj, formerly Allahabad.
Devotees come to the historic city where Hindu sacred rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and mythical Saraswati confluence.
It is a pilgrimage with the strong belief that all the sins one has committed will be cleaned with a simple dip in the holy waters. And one can re-emerge and start his or her life with a clean slate. Moreover, one gets “mukti’, meaning liberation from the cycle of life and death according to Hindu belief.
This year’s Kumbh Mela besides its ritual and traditional values has political importance also because of the upcoming parliamentary election in India. As millions of pilgrims from all over the country are expected to attend the mela, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party, is spending millions of rupees in arrangements and facilities to cash in on the goodwill it would generate.
As per the ritual of the bath or few dips in the holy waters to cleans one’s sins is concerned, it does not carry any rationale. This ritual can be accepted as part of Hindu customs and traditions of pilgrimage to the revered rivers, especially at their confluence point, called Sangam.
Expecting, that a devotee can wash off all the bad deeds he or she has committed can’t be accepted to realistic and progressive Hindu mind.
17th-century poet, humanist and philosopher Bulleh Shah has aptly condemned these kinds of ritualistic beliefs. He says:
Makkay gayaan, gal mukdee naheen Pawain sow sow jummay parrh aaeey Going to Makkah is not the ultimate Even if hundreds of prayers are offered – Ganga gayaan, gal mukdee naheen Pawain sow sow gotay khaeeay Going to River Ganges is not the ultimate Even if hundreds of cleansing (Baptisms) are done – Gaya gayaan gal mukdee naheen Pawain sow sow pand parrhaeeay Going to Gaya is not the ultimate Even if hundreds of worships are done – Bulleh Shah gal taeeyon mukdee Jadon May nu dillon gawaeeay Bulleh Shah the ultimate is When the “I” is removed from the heart!
Lohri is a traditional Punjabi festival of pure secular nature. It is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, and Christians.
January 13th every year is the marked date for the festival in both India and Pakistan’s Punjab regions, and all over the world where Punjabis are settled.
They say it is a celebration to mark the end of harsh winters of the region. But there is folklore linked to the popular Lohri song Dulla Bhatti Wala Ho….
It is “a legend of Dulla Bhatti, whose real name was Abdullah Bhatti and lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Dulla Bhatti was regarded as a hero in Punjab, for rescuing Hindu girls from being forcibly taken to be sold in the slave market of the Middle East. Amongst those he saved were two girls Sundri and Mundri, who gradually became a theme of the Punjab folklore.” -Source Wikipedia.
In this part two of my interpretation of Guru Nanak’s divine message Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak Likhyea Naal, we take another aspect of the edict. But first, let me briefly recap what was presented in the first discussion.
In the previousviewpoint, the perception was when we are facing an unjust or grave situation that conflicts with our conscious mind, then it is likely 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 do nothing or expecting “god-willing” it would go away.
Hukum razai chalna is the sacred message which was followed by the Sikh Gurus. Rather than acceding, they fought against the injustice and tyranny and sought equality for humanity. It is in this crusade and commitment that Hukam gets its legitimate and revered meaning.
Life is an entanglement of sufferings. The blissful emancipation can be achieved through Hukam-inspired righteous actions.
Hukum is the beginning, and it is the end. In between are our related thoughts and actions. Hukam is the cause of generating an effect. The latter is produced by our deeds where God gives us the freedom to act according to our consciousness.
A keen reader in response to my first article very prudently and concisely says:
“Hukum 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 hukum-nama now. “It is not a command or an edict from a patriarchal God but our relatedness to the Divine.”
Now, as we move to the second part of this discussion, 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 do 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 Guru Nanak’s dictum: Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak Likhyea Naal.
Perhaps the most relevant message of Guru Nanak Dev as we usher into the New Year and make fresh resolutions in the conduct of our lives, is Hukam Razai Chalna, Nanak likhyea naal.
In its simple meaning, as usual addressing himself, 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 means to walk, and likhyea naal meaning inevitably written down. To follow (razai) the walk (chalna) guided by hukam of God as inevitably written (likhyea naal), create our basic understanding of this divine message from Guru Nanak Dev.
The key word in the edict is Hukam, and this is 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, that is 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 answer is 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.
This is passive acceptance. That 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 and reject injustice. And that has been the Supreme Command which Nanak is professing.
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 means 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.
While most of us are getting into the joyous mood of New Year eve celebrations in the company of friends and families, some folks are lonely and ending the last few hours of 2018 just being alone.
In the company of their own self, they are away from society, families, and friends in the confines of their situations. Loneliness is not just being physically apart, it can be an emotional state as well.
Fortunately, those who are alone they have company in the tech world of today. Thru the internet and many other gadgets, people are connected all the time worldwide. The latest toy is from Amazon’s where Alexa gives a friendly company with questions from you and her spontaneous answers on topics and queries of both sensible and weird choices.
Home alone with lonely feelings maybe not an issue for many. But there are still those poor souls, not that tech savvy or forced by their circumstances, who will just let the year slip by and seek hope in the New Year.