Taking a Hukam – by Shakti Parwha Kaur Khalsa
“Although Yogi Bhajan had assured me many times that it was not my fault, as a mother I felt terribly guilty and responsible for the way my son Jamesâ€™ life had turned out.
After a fifteen-year separation from James, I was shocked when I saw him again. He had gained a huge amount of weight, and even worse, when I visited his apartment and saw the conditions in which he was living, I was horrified. I saw paper bags full of newspapers strewn around all over the place as well as other signs of an abnormal situation.
He had met his wife, Lucille, at an outpatient rehab center shortly after he had been discharged from the Army. Although he had gotten well, she hadnâ€™t. His wife was a mental patient. He was her legal Conservator. James told me that frequently in the middle of the night she would try to commit suicide, and he would have to call 911 and get her to the hospital for treatment. When I visited their apartment, she was away on one of those occasions.
When I got home, I was terribly upset. In tears, I phoned my dear friend, Dr. Sat-Kaur Khalsa the Secretary of Religion for Sikh Dharma International who is a professional Marriage and Family counselor. I told her what I had just seen and how disturbed I was about James.
She suggested a procedure I could follow if I wanted to get clarity and guidance about the situation. She said, â€œWrite down the whole story about your son, your relationship with him, and how you feel about it. Then when it is all down on paper, go to the Gurdwara, say an Ardas, and then take a Hukam.
On my next day off, I remember it was a Thursday; I sat down at my typewriter (this was many years before I had a computer) and started writing. I typed and cried, and typed and cried. I kept on typing with tears streaming down my face until I had written pretty much the whole scenario: my marriage at 18, Jamesâ€™ birth at 20, divorce at 22, James taking drugs at 18 while I was in India, his enlisting in the Army where he attempted suicide and went AWOL, then my receiving his letter saying he was planning to go to Canada.
It was at that point in time, December of 1968, that I had met Yogi Bhajan who said to me, â€œYour sonâ€™s in trouble isnâ€™t he?â€ When I said, â€œYes,â€ he said, â€œI can help you.â€ And so he did. He told me â€œThereâ€™s nothing more powerful than the prayer of a mother for her son, and if you will chant this mantra (EK ONG KAR SAT NAM SIRI WHA GURU) for one hour every day for forty days, before sunrise, your son will be all right.â€
And of course that worked, it actually only took about 10 days before I heard from James, and he came safely, if not sanely, back to LA.
Then after a few days, James left town and there was the fifteen-year separation during which I didnâ€™t hear from him. When I did see him again, and met his wife, and then had just seen how they lived – well, I needed a way to deal with my feelings. So I did what Sat-Kaur suggested.
As soon as I got it all down on paper, I went to the Gurdwara, made an offering, said a prayer, and then I took a Hukam.
The Guru absolutely spoke to the situation. The words confirmed what Yogi Bhajan had told me years ago! The hukam said that even in the motherâ€™s womb, it is God who is responsible for the life of every soul. I wish I had written down the exact words, but the message was quite clear. It was sufficient to ease my guilt (it certainly verified what Yogi Bhajan had told me), and demonstrate that the Guruâ€™s words can supply whatever answers we need, whenever we need them. I went home and burned the document I had typed. No need to go over the past again.
Anyone can take a Hukam. A Hukam is the â€œorder of the day.â€ It is the Guru telling us what to remember and understand in order to guide our lives and put our circumstances into perspective. The procedure is that after washing your hands (of course your head is covered), stand and offer a prayer, make an offering, and bow your forehead to the ground, then go and sit behind the Siri Guru Granth Sahib. After chanting a few lines of an appropriate shabd, or mantra, meditatively asking for guidance, you open the pages of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib at random. Read the first words you see on that page, they are the Guruâ€™s message to you.
At Guru Ram Das Ashram we write down the first and last lines of each Hukam taken at every Gurdwara, so that anyone can later locate the full passage. The Hukam should be read out loud and clear with the understanding that you are conveying the Guruâ€™s powerful pronouncement. It is the Guru speaking directly to the sadh sangat (congregation) giving an order, an instruction to be meditated upon and taken to heart. So the reader sharing the Guruâ€™s words needs to speak with firmness and conviction.