What is a Hukamnama?

'Hukamnama' is a Persian word meaning a royal decree.
In the Sikh context this is considered Guru Maharaj's words of
wisdom for the day. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji is opened randomly
to any page and the shabad on that page becomes the
day's Hukam (command). This practice dates back to the time
when Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji was first installed in the
Golden Temple in 1604.

What is Hukamnama?

There are two parts to this word, Hukam, and Nama. The former, Hukam, is a Persian word for a divine order, command, direction, etc. The latter part, Nama, is also Persian and is added to some other words to signify the communication of the word that preceded it. For example, Thankhahnama is the document that outlines Thankhah (spiritual discipline) for the Sikhs as written by Bhai Nand Lal Ji. Zafarnama is the letter of declaration of Victory from Guru Gobind Singh Maharaj Ji to Aurangzeb. Along those lines, Hukamnama is the communication or the decree of a divine order.

What is Hukam, according to Gurbani?

Hukam is referred to in Gurbani as the divine order, divine will, or command of God and Guru Maharaj. There is no Hukam higher than God and Guru Maharaj's Hukam. No king, ruler, statesperson, or any worldly authority can have a Hukam superior to God and Guru Maharaj. Whatever the Creator God wishes to have done in the universe is supreme, and true, and worldly powers cannot be exerted over God.

In Gurbani, Guru ji says:

jo this bhaavai soee karasee fir Hukam n karanaa jaaee ||
He does whatever He pleases. No one can issue any order to Him.

There are many discussions and debates about Hukam, but people always come to the conclusion that whatever is written in Gurbani, that is the Will of God and Guru, and that is what a human being should try to live up to when in the pursuit of following Hukam.

Guru Ji says:

gur kae bachan sath sath kar maanae maerae t(h)aakur bahuth piaarae ||6||
Those who accept the Word of the Guru as True, totally True, are very dear to my Lord and Master. ||6||

Therefore, when the gurbani from Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji or Sri Dasam Granth is recited, it is taken as a direct command or order from the Guru and God.

What is the history behind taking Hukam from Guru Granth Sahib?

In 1604, Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Maharaj Ji completed the first edition of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji, called Sri Aad Granth Sahib, and the whole of the Sikh community celebrated the completion of the compilation of the sacred scriptures. Bhai Gurdas Ji had scribed the whole of the Sri Aad Granth Sahib, and Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Maharaj Ji had supervised and directed the whole process with the blessings of the Creator. Guru Sahib Maharaj Ji organized a procession to the darbar sahib at SachKhand Sri Harimandir Sahib where Sri Aad Granth Sahib was installed upon the throne. Sri Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Maharaj Ji sat at a lower position, on the floor with the rest of the congregation, and instructed the congregation on how to show respect to the divine word of God. At this time, Baba Buddha Ji was requested to fulfill the service of being the Granthi and he took the first Hukamnama of Sri Aad Granth Sahib. The first line of the Hukamnama was:

sa(n)thaa kae kaaraj aap khaloeiaa har ka(n)m karaavan aaeiaa raam ||
The Lord Himself has stood up to resolve the affairs of the Saints; He has come to complete their tasks.

Since that time, the suroop of Sri Aad Granth Sahib was prakash at Sri Harimandir Sahib, and every day Hukam was taken. In 1708, when Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji completed the final suroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji, this suroop was installed on the takhat at Sri Harimandir Sahib, and Hukam was taken from this suroop.

How is the Hukamnama taken at Sri Harimandir Sahib?

During the early morning hours, around 4am, the hazoori ragi kirtani jathas at Sri Harimandir Sahib commence Sri Asa Di Var in kirtan. Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji's suroop is brought by one of the granthis of Harimandir Sahib, or by the head granthi, or by the jathedar of Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib. Guru Sahib Maharaj Ji's suroop is put into a palki and the palki is carried from Sri Akaal Takhat Sahib to Sri Harimandir Sahib. About half-way into the ragi jatha's recitation of Asa Di Var, they begin to recite a shabad about "darshan" and as they complete the shabad the whole sangat stands respectfully as Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji enters into the Darbar Sahib.

The granthi Singh places Guru Sahib Maharaj Ji's suroop on the takhat and some sevadaars recite "Bhatta De Svaiye" while the granthi Singh and other sevadaars prepare Guru Sahib Maharaj Ji's rumallas and basthars. Then the Hukamnama is taken and broadcast around the Harimandir Sahib complex through loud speakers. Meanwhile, people around the world listen or read the Hukamnama from computer, radio, and television.

What is the significance of the Hukamnama?

The daily Hukamnama from Sri Darbar Sahib, SachKhand Sri Harimandir Sahib, is taken to be the instructions or order for the whole of the Sikh community for that particular day. Throughout Sikh history, there have been numerous instances when the Hukamnama from Sri Darbar Sahib was directly relevant to the events of the day in the world. In addition, the Hukamnama is a reminder to all Sikhs to reflect on the word of the Guru, and implement the teachings of the Guru into their life, each and every day. In fact, Gursikhs who are imbued with the colours of Naam follow the teachings of the Guru with each and every breath, and each and every morsel of food. The divine Hukam of the One Supreme Naam, and the whole of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji's teachings, are absorbed into the breaths, blood and bone of the spiritually enlightened Gursikh.

The daily Hukamnama is a reminder for the Sikh community to accept one Guru - Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji, and to be united as one community - Guru Khalsa Panth.

Hukamnama Significance in History

It is not only the case that one Hukamnama is taken from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji at SachKhand Sri Harimandir Sahib each day and that is all. In fact, every gurdwara sahib in the world takes Hukamnama from Guru Ji each morning and on the conclusion of programs, and Guru Ji gives individual Hukams for individual situations, events, and communities. All worldly and spiritual confusions and difficulties can be remedied by reflecting on the teachings of the Guru Maharaj. All worldly and spiritual questions can be answered by reflecting on the teachings of the Guru Maharaj. With this in mind, many Sikhs throughout history have stood before Sri Guru Granth Sahib Maharaj Ji, and prayed with devotion, spilling out all their emotions and frustrations of life and begging Guru Maharaj for some divine advice. Guru Maharaj has always given the perfect advice, and sometimes Guru Maharaj Ji's Hukamnama has played out in actual history - such as in the case of Saka Nankana Sahib.

koee aan milaavai maeraa preetham piaaraa ho this pehi aap vaechaaee ||1||
If only someone would come, and lead me to meet my Darling Beloved; I would sell myself to him. ||1||

dharasan har dhaekhan kai thaaee ||
I long for the Blessed Vision of the Lord's Darshan.

kirapaa karehi thaa sathigur maelehi har har naam dhhiaaee ||1|| rehaao ||

When the Lord shows Mercy unto me, then I meet the True Guru; I meditate on the Name of the Lord, Har, Har. ||1||Pause||

This was the exact devotion of the Gursikhs who went to defend the honour of the Gurdwara and sacrificed their lives, mind, body, and wealth for Guru Maharaj. They were cut in pieces, burnt alive, shot, and brutally beaten to death, but they did not give up their faith in God. They lived up to the Hukam that Guru Maharaj Ji gave them.