Hukamnama, literally means "Royal Order." As Akal Takht
Sahib is the Throne of the Almighty, the orders issued by Akal Takht
Sahib are called Hukamnamas. The letters written by the Sikh Gurus
too were also called Hukamnamas. In the middle ages, the orders from
the worldly rulers were also known as Hukamnama but the people carried
out the orders under compulsion. But, the Hukamnamas of the Sikh Gurus
was a matter of pride and privilege. Not only the carrying out the
Guru's Order but even the Darshan (a simple look) at Guru's Hukamnama
was a matter of pride for a Sikh.
The first Hukamnama from Akal Takht
Sahib was issued by Guru Hargobind Sahib himself. This Hukamnama
asked the Sikhs to wear arms for self defence. Since then several
Hukamnamas must have been issued. Some Hukamnamas issued by Guru
Gobind Singh Sahib, his wife, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, Sarbat Khalsa,
Akal Takht Sahib etc. are still available in the original. (Two
collections of Hukamnamas are available in print form, one edited
by Dr. Ganda Singh and the other one by Bhai Shamsher Singh Ashok,
both published in 1968 by Punjabi University and the S.G.P.C. respectively.
These volumes have Hukamnamas by the following: 2 by Guru Hargobind
Sahib, one by Guru Harkrishan Sahib, 22 by Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib,
34 by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib, 2 by Banda Singh Bahadur, 2 by Sikh
During the eighteenth century, the
Sarbat Khalsa issued Hukamnama-s to the Sikhs for manifold purposes.
Through one Hukamnama, Akal Takht Sahib asked the Sikhs to release
the wife of a Brahmin (Hindu of priestly class) whom the Afghan
Chief of Kasur had carried away. In 1759, Sarbat Khalsa issued a
Hukamnama to the Sikhs to send funds for the reconstruction of the
After the British annexation of the Sikh Homeland, Akal Takht Sahib
was misused by the occupying managers. A Hukamnama against Professor
Gurmukh Singh was issued in 1879. A Hukamnama, it has been said,
was issued against the Ghadar Party workers. There is no direct
evidence of the issuance of such a Hukamnama. As these two and alike
Hukamnamas were not in accordance with the Sikh ideology, hence
the Sikh nation rejected them.
Hukamnamas excommunicating persons
or cults guilty of harming Panth or for acts of blaspheme, too,
have been issued from time to time: Gurdial Sinh Nabha (1923), Teja
Singh Bhasaur and his associates (1928), Nirankari cult (1978) etc.
During the period of attempt at the hijacking of Akal Takht Sahib
too Hukamnamas were issued to excommunicate Zail Sinh, Buta Sinh,
Santa Sinh, Rachhpal Sinh, Surjit Barnala, Pashaura Sinh etc.
Hukamnama of Akal Takht Sahib is
different from a verdict given from Akal Takht Sahib in some disputes.
Decisions in the cases of the Sikhs who surrender at Akal Takht
Sahib for their anti-Sikh activities are not Hukamnamas. These decisions
had been given in the case of Kartar Singh Bedi (1924), Bhai Narain
Singh (1924), Buta Singh M.L.C. (1935), Master Tara Singh, Fateh
Singh and eight members of the Executive of Akali Dal (1962), Piar
Singh (1993) etc. In some cases partial decisions were taken by
the caretakers of Akal Takht Sahib for forgiving or for giving minor
punishment due to reasons best known to them. These cases were:
Zail Sinh, Surjit Barnala, Buta Sinh, Amarjeet Grewal, Pashaura
Sinh etc. All these persons were given concessionary treatment.
The Sikhs have not accepted these decisions by the respective caretakers
of Akal Takht Sahib.
This has happened due to ignorance
about the concept of Akal Takht Sahib and its Hukamnama. The Hukamnama
of Akal Takht Sahib is the consensus of Sarbat Khalsa. During the
eighteenth century, the issues of the Sikhs were decided by way
of Gurmatta. The leaders of all the groups, Misls, battalions of
the Sikhs used to gather at Akal Takht Sahib to finalise a particular
issue. The decision was reached by way of consensus in accordance
with the Sikh ideology. This was called Gurmatta (the counsel of
Guru Sahib). This Gurmatta was issued to the Sikh nation from Akal
Takht Sahib as Hukamnama of Sarbat Khalsa or Akal Takht Sahib. This
represented the "will of the Sikh nation." A Hukamnama
can not be issued by caretaker of Akal Takht Sahib by way of personal
whims. The political monopolization and the adoption of Western
political system made the Sikh intelligentsia indifferent to the
institution of Akal Takht Sahib and the institution of Akal Takht
Sahib was "hijacked" by ignorant but clever politicians.
All the Gurmattas are not Hukamnamas. When a resolve to execute
some planning is made, it is called Gurmatta and it applies to the
persons who participate in it. But, if this Gurmatta is of national
importance then it is released to the Sikh nation. In that case
it becomes Hukamnama. Sarbat Khalsa made several Gurmattas in the
eighteenth century. Some of the well know Gurmattas are: the issue
of acceptance of Jagir (1733), construction of Sikh fort (1747),
formation of Dal Khalsa (1748), to recognise Rakhi (1753 and 1758),
to attack Lahore (1760), to emphasize the supremacy of Sarbat Khalsa
(1765), the petition of Jaswant Rao Holkar (1805), to form the S.G.P.C.
(1020), to form Gurdwara Sewak Dal, later named Akali Dal (1920)
There are certain issues which can
not be covered by Gurmatta or Hukamnama. These include the basic
principles, postulates or doctrines of Sikhism. A Gurmatta, which
applies to the whole of the Sikh nation (national issues) must represent
the will of the whole nation and must not be a decision of an ad
hoc hand-picked assembly of special invitees by a party or faction
or self-styled Jathedar/Pope.
Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer
For more information about AKAL TAKHT SAHIB, please read: Akal Takht
Sahib (English) by Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer, published by National
Book Depot Delhi, 1995 edition OR AKAL TAKHT SAHIB (FALSFA TE TWARIKH)
in Punjabi, published in 2000 and distributed by Singh Brothers