Chapter III

The Lord’s Will – Hukam

What is the Will of the Lord, or His Bhana?

Bhana means that which is liked by the heart or which is pleasing or gives pleasure. In Punjabi they generally say, "I like it and am pleased with it. It suits me and is very good." 

The Gurus in the line of Guru Nanak have mentioned the word 'Bhana' many times in their writings.

They served according to the wishes of the Lord. They acted according to His Will. They who did so, succeeded. They remained very happy. That is happiness which He likes. That is greatness which He approves, what He likes He considers to be true. He dwells in His Will.

Do such deeds as please the Lord. Perform the actions with which He is pleased. Whatever is liked by the Lord should be desired by us also. Therefore, "surrender to His Will" means that we should be happy in His Will. 

The Muslim Saints describe it as "submission to His Will". Such a person always says, "Oh Lord, whatever you like is good". 

A Persian Saint has said:

The work that did not succeed according to our desire. It was good that it did not succeed.

Whatever one does should be done to please the Lord, so that we may become dear to Him. The key to obtaining His pleasure lies in acting according to His Will.

I bow my head before the wishes of the Beloved.

We should consider what we should do when we wish to please someone. The main thing would be to obey him implicitly. We should not transgress his directions even by a hair-breadth. Look at the animals. A dog that understands the command of its master and does not even remotely transgress it, is liked and patted by its master. An obedient son gives great satisfaction and pleasure to his parents. An obedient wife is loved by her husband. An obedient servant is pleasing to his master. The law-abiding and good citizens are a source of delight to their government. Wherever you may look, you will find this same principle in action. That is, if you wish to please anyone, carry out his commands. Be content with what he wills. This is the way to remain happy and in his will.

All deeds and duties should be performed with a view to pleasing the Lord. Guru Nanak, in the first Stanza of the Jap Ji Sahib, has considered the various methods customarily used to realise the Lord. He says that the Lord is not within the reach of the intellect or reason. He cannot be realised by practising austerities, by keeping fasts, by observing silence and so on. He is not to be found by wisdom or cunning. How are we, then, to proceed in order to gain access to His door and to see Him after tearing away the curtain of Maya? 

Guru Nanak says that the Lord cannot be realised by any other method except that of obeying and following His Will. This is the most fundamental principle.

He cannot be conceived however hard we may think. He cannot be reached by observing silence however long. Nor can contentment be bought by all the wealth of the world. Of a myriad clevernesses, not one works, 

How can we be true? How can the curtain of falsehood be rent asunder By following the Divine Will. It is so written in our fate, oh Nanak.

Jap Ji, 1-5

Divine dispensation, divine law and divine Will are three different aspects of the same reality, namely, Bhana or the Lord's Will. The Lord's dispensation is the result of the Lord's Will and so are happiness and pleasure. It is through this that His Law operates. The divine law is the materialized form of divine dispensation. It is the Shabd, Name or Word.

Oh Nanak, the Lord's Name is the Law. It is explained by the Master.

 Sri Rag M1, 72-2

He is blessed who knows the Law. The true Shabd is His distinguishing sign.

Asa M4, 386-2

'Raza' means to comply with the law without murmur or complaint and joyfully. Raza, in Arabic, means happiness, joy or will. The pleasure of the lawgiver is the prime consideration. We should abide by the law happily and cheerfully. There is complete lack of self and egotism in it. One has to become the very embodiment of the Divine Will.

Rabia Basri once met two holy men. She asked them to tell her something about Raza. 

One holy man said, 

Whatever pain and suffering one receives from the Lord, one should bear them.

Rabia Basri said, 

There is egotism in the idea.

The other holy man said, 

Whatever sufferings come from the Lord, they should be accepted cheerfully.

Rabia said, 

This also smacks of egotism."

Rabia then added, 

One should lose the faculty of distinction between the pleasure and pain that comes from the Lord and regard both of them as His gifts.

In Jap Ji it is said:

Countless people suffer and are hungry. This is also Your boon, oh Bountiful Lord.

Jap Ji, 5-13

Those who act in accordance with the Divine Law or Will are conscious co-workers with it and act according to its provisions. This does not mean that one should sit idle and do nothing. He alone is a doer who performs actions. 

The problem of the relationship between fate and self-effort is very knotty. 

There is a Persian saying:

Man proposes; God disposes.

A man conceives thousands of plans and puts some of them into effect, but fate sits by his side and laughs at him. Effort is the outcome of man's will. Fate, however, is the outcome of the Will of the Lord. What can the will of man do against the Will of the Lord? It has no chance whatever.

However hard one may try, it is to no purpose. That only happens, which is ordained by the Lord.

We come together or separate according to our fate karmas and His Will. Whatever He wills, happens. No one can interfere with His supreme Will.

Some attain to union with Him; others depart in separation. All that is His Will shall happen; who else can do any thing?

 Sri Rag M1, 18-8

Both the fools and the wise are all tied with the same rope. Human effort is of no avail against His Will. His law is working in all and no one else is the doer. 

Guru Arjan, the fifth Guru in the line of Guru Nanak, says:

No one is foolish, no one is wise. Whatever happens, it is Your Will.

Majh M5, 98-16

Whatever You will, happens. There is no other who can do a thing.

M5 Gauri 154-1

Everything happened as willed by Him; no one else did any thing. By His Will is deluded the world, and lying asleep it does not awaken.

 Gauri M5, 207-11

Guru Nanak has also said:

All happens according to Your Will. The mind drags one into the mire in the end.

Asa M1, 356-11

Namdev, a fourteenth century Indian Saint, says to the same effect:

Nothing will come out of what I do. What the Lord wills that alone is what comes to pass.

Namdev, Bhairon,  1165-15

Shamas-i-Tabriz says that man thinks up many plans but is not aware of his fate. But only that happens which is ordained by God.

You try to act, but do not know your fate. Nothing avails against one's ordained fate.

Hafiz says, "You should live happily according to His Will, since we have not been given any say in this matter."

Reconcile yourself to what has been ordained. Frown not at what happens; for we have little say in the matter.

Sheikh Sa' adi has also said:

The arrow of fate cannot be avoided, submit to it cheerfully.

Since there is no escape from the arrow of fate, a man can do nothing but submit to his ordained fate. It is our everyday experience that howsoever much we may try, success or failure is not within our hands. Of course, it is our duty to make an effort. Lord Krishna gave the same advice to his disciple Arjun, to do his duty but to leave its fruit to the Lord, since he had no control over the fruit of his actions. 

An old story says that one day an Arab said to Prophet Mohammed, 

"Oh Prophet of God! The Lord is constantly watching over us. What if I do not tie the legs of my camel in the night and thus leave my camel's wanderings to Him, relying on His Will? Would it do any harm?"

Maulana Rumi has described the reply given by the Prophet in the following words:

In a loud voice the Prophet said: Tie the legs of the camel. And then rely on God.

The Prophet said authoritatively that it was the man's duty to tie the legs of his camel. Perform your duty. Then remain content with the will of God and leave the result to Him. Try your best and leave the rest to God.

Man is free to a certain extent. He is bound beyond that. We can make this clear by an illustration. A boy is flying a kite. His father has given him a hundred or two hundred yards of string. Hiding himself he has kept the rest of the string with himself. The boy is free to fly the kite to the extent of the string that is with him, and no more. Similarly, we should try to act as best we can according to our strength and then leave the rest to the Lord. We should make use of our effort and intelligence to the extent that we can and then bow before the Will of God, accepting It as sweet and welcome. 

Guru Granth Sahib says:

Live by making an earnest effort. Thus earn and abide in happiness. Contemplating the Lord meet Him and dispel all care and anxiety.

 Gujri Var M5, 522-15

March forward and look not behind.

Maru Var M5, 1096-13

Oh Kabir, do today what you would do tomorrow. Do just now what you would do today.

Kabir, Shalok, 1371-16

Oh my wandering mind! A stranger are you. How would you meet the Lord?

 Gauri M4, 234-4

The Lord's Will and man's free will are mentioned many times in the writings of the. Gurus. If by the Lord's Will, it is meant that everything that happens is bound to happen and that man's efforts are of no avail whatever, then what was the use of the Gurus, incarnating themselves again and again, giving out their teachings, taking pains to hold spiritual discourses and putting out scriptural writings? The Gurus say that it is necessary for us to make our own efforts, but these should be in accordance with the Will of the Lord.

The question arises as to how are we to know His Will? 

The Gurus say:

The virtues loved by the Lord, are taught to us by the Master. Submit to the Master's Will, and then you will be blessed. I worship the Master.

 Tilang M4, 725-12

The divine virtues that are dear to the Lord are known and achieved through the Master. The True Master is indistinguishable from the Lord, and the Will of the Lord is dear to Him.

He alone is a devotee of the Master Who is content with the Lord's Will. Within him ring unstruck Melodies of bliss and the Lord Himself embraces him.

Ramkali, Rag 923-10

The Master is the Lord's Will personified or made flesh. It is by following the will of the Master that the Will of the Lord is known. But this can be known from a perfect Master only.

Oh Lord, keep me ever in your Will and bless me with the glory of your Name. It is through the perfect Master that Your Will is known And one merges in Equipoise.

Prabhati M3, 1333-8

Mention of these things is made in many religious scriptures. Ponder over them while sitting in the company of a realized soul. The most important thing is to take refuge with a perfect Master and then follow without hesitation the path that he enjoins. His utterances are those of God Himself and his orders are God's orders.

Oh Lalu, as I receive the word of the Lord, so do I utter.

 Tilang M1, 722-15

When by following the directions of a perfect Master, one understands it, he becomes the administrator of His will. Whatever he does, he does on behalf of the Lord. The Lord works through him. His will becomes one with the Lord's Will.

Man's will and intellect, being finite, are weak, deficient and incomplete. If we make them one with the eternal Will and the perfect wisdom of the Lord they will also become infinite. Since the law of harmony is in tune with His Will, the echo of the Divine Melody is felt within man. The deficient will of man then awakens in the perfect Will of the Lord and takes its form. He begins to truly understand and follow His Will. He is no longer obliged to grope in the dark. He sees everything in a clear-cut manner. He is rid of all delusions.

I have tasted His will. I am rid of all my doubts.

Sri Rag M1, 72-7

He begins to see and understand the writings that tell of His Will. He becomes familiar with all the three aspects of time. Such persons generally keep silent, but sometimes in their delight they say something about the matter.

We may be rich or poor, healthy or diseased, happy or unhappy. All these states are boons from Him, a result of our own karmas. Accept them cheerfully. Be happy with His Will. Try to act as you are directed by the Master, and thus free yourself from the shackles of karmas and death, through the Name of the Lord. His Will is His greatest gift. Nothing excels it. It is only if He wills it that we obey Him. We can meet a Master if it is so willed by Him. We can attune ourselves to Truth and then share the bliss, only if He wills it. But only those for whom it is ordained can obtain it.

I obey as He wills. I get bliss as He wills. He wills and I meet a Master. He wills and I contemplate on Truth. No boon is greater than His Will. Verily this is the truth. I take refuge with the Creator.

Maru M3, 1093-14

When He wills a thing it happens. One gets a Master and one gets the Name of God.

 Maru M3, 1064-1

The entire universe has been created by His Will. He alone, whom He wills it, loves His Will.

He by His own Will created all the universe. He, whom He wills, loves His Will.

Maru M3, 1064-2

Pain and pleasure, honour and glory, birth and death, the union of the soul with the body, coming together and separation, habitation in hell or heaven, recitals and penances, wandering in different species, knowledge and devotion, and crossing the ocean of the universe, all are happening according to His Will.

When You are with me, oh Lord, I attain everything. When You abide within me, I am at peace. When You dwell within me, I am blessed. By Your Will You make me a king; by Your Will a beggar. By Your Will flow rivers in the desert; by Your Will bloom flowers in the sky. By Your Will we cross the sea of life; by Your Will are we drowned midstream. By Your Will we love the Lord, and are dyed in His hue. By Your Will He appears dreadful, and we keep coming and going.

 Suhi M3, 762-15

He is the greatest of all. All are under His discipline, and He rules all. All act according to His Will.

Great is the glory of the unfathomable Lord. Through Guru's Word I see His vision. An enraptured and inner peace descends upon me. He is the Over-Lord and His Will rules over all. The Lord has yoked all to His Will. Nanak, the Lord does as He wills.

 Sarang Var M4, 2151-12

That alone is true knowledge and contemplation, which is pleasing to Him. That alone is true worship and recital, which pleases Him.

That alone is true contemplation, which is approved by Him. That alone is recital Which is pleasing to Him. To abide in His Will Is perfect knowledge. 

Majh M5, 100-8

Only when the True Lord wills it, can we worship Him with His Will enshrined in our hearts. It is a true devotee alone Who knows what worship is Living utterly in His Will. Oh Saints, he who accepts God's Will Is in bliss. In the end it is His Name alone that keeps one company.

 Ramkali M3, 910-7

He who is dear to the Lord and submits to His Will is successful.

Blessed is he who is dear to You, may I be a sacrifice unto Your Will.

 Dhanasri M5, 676-12

Blessed are they Who obey the Lord's Will. The Guru's Shabd guides them, and they reach the abode of the Lord.

Bhairon M3, 1129-18

May we be a sacrifice to the one who is loved by the Lord.

He who meets the Master Knows the Lord. I am a sacrifice to Him Who submits to the Lord's Will.

Ramkali Var M5, 958-14

When one is loved by the Lord, the Lord Himself forgives him and unites him to Himself.

I am a sacrifice to Him Who forgives and unites me with Himself. Says Nanak, in His Will The Lord merges me in Himself.

Malar Var M1, 1291-12

Those who love the Will of the Lord become perfect.

Whatever is ordained, o one can efface. Nanak, they become perfect, Who love the Will of the Lord.

 Malar M3, 1276-14

He who submits himself to the Will of the Lord merges in Him. This is the highest praise of the Will.

He who accepts your Will Unites with You. He who is pleased with Your Will Merges in You. Glorious is submission to God's Will, but rare is the one who submits to it.

 Maru M3, 1063-19