Shabad Hazaray is the Bani of longing for the beloved Guru. It was written by Guru Arjan when he was separated from Guru Ram Das, his father for a duration of time. During that period of separation he sent these three letters to his beloved Guru and father expressing his longing for the "blessed vision of the Guru".
Reciting this shabad brings union with the your beloved; it expresses in deep terms the true sense, the hurt of separation; the pain endured by the heart when the thought remains focused just on union and nothing else holds any meaning; when everything else loses any interest or meaning. It is an ultimate in the expression of love and longing for the Divine Guru. The fourth part was added by Guru Arjan at the time of the union with Guru Ram Das.
There is also a bani (composition) by the same name by the tenth master, Guru Gobind Singh; the full name of this composition is Shabad Hazare Patshahi 10. This second composition is to be found in the Dasam Granth - see index of Dasam Granth.
Background of the Bani
In early 1581, a cousin of Guru Ram Das, the fourth Sikh Guru came to Amritsar from Lahore especially to ask Guru sahib to attend his son's wedding. The Guru was unable to attend so he asked each of his three sons. Only Arjan agreed to go to the wedding in Lahore. The Guru told him to stay there and hold Guru-ka-Langar and spread the Guru's teachings until the Guru sent him a letter asking him to return to Amritsar.
Arjan obediently followed the Guru's instructions. He attended the wedding and started a Guru darbar and langar in Lahore. He was much loved by his relatives and the Sikh sangat. However, after a few days, he began missing his father Guru. He expressed his longing in a letter which he sent to his father. However, this letter was intercepted by his elder brother, Prithi Chand. Arjan then sent a second letter; this too did not get to his father. So, with the third letter he gave clear instructions for the letter to be hand delivered to his father Guru Ram Das.
When the third letter was received by the Guru he read it and also read the other two letters (after obtaining them from Prithi Chand), the Guru was very pleased and immediately dispatched Bhai Buddha to collect his youngest son, Arjan from Lahore. When Arjan was finally united with his father, he placed his head on Guru Sahib ji's chest against his long beard; he was overcome by the intense delinght of the union. He remained that way for many moments, while the Guru held him lovingly and gently in his arms.
The Guru then said that as he had written three stanzas, he should write a fourth to finish the poem. Arjan then recited the last verse saying, "It is my good fortune to have met the True Guru, and I have found the Immortal God in my own home. My greatest desire is to never be separated from him again, not even for an instant. I am ever a sacrifice to the True Guru."
Upon hearing this last section of the hymn, Guru Ram Das descended from his throne and seated Arjan upon it in front of the whole sangat (congregation).
Shabad Hazaray Bani
The Bani (Scripture) of Fifth Guru Arjan Dev, in the Raag (Musical measure) called Raga Maajh, Chau-Padas (Four lines per Hymn), First House of Raag.
My mind longs for meeting the Guru (Guru Arjun Dev, not yet a Guru, expresses his desire to meet his father Guru Ram Das Ji). It is anxious like the rain-bird (Weaver-bird, Papiha: Papeehaa, Beehaa, or Bambeehaa It keeps eager to have a drop of rain at a special auspicious moment). I am thirsty and have no peace without meeting the revered Saint (my Guru-Father). ||1||
I am a sacrifice (Love-lost, eager) for meeting the Saint (Guru-Father). ||1||Pause|| (Pause means wait, and contemplate on what has been said above). Your face (Meeting you) is so impressive, and your speech is peace and joy giving. (But) my Lord -Guru-Father, it has been long since that I met you. (I long to see you). Great blessed is the place where you are (Live), my friend, companion, and my lord (Guru-Father). ||2||
I am a sacrifice - an appreciation, to my friend and companion lord (Guru-Father). ||1||Pause|| When I could not see you even for a short while, it was a dark-age, a hard time, for me. When shall I meet you now, beloved Lord (Revered father)! My night does not pass, and sleep comes not, without being in the presence of the Guru: Prophet (Guru-Father). ||3||
I am a sacrifice, sacrifice I am, to this true court of the revered Guru. ||1||Pause|| It is my good destiny, that I have met the Saint Guru (The Saint-Father). I met Immortal Prabhu at home. (Prabhu - The Master: father, met Guru Arjan Dev on his return from Lahore. At every step the son is calling his father, Lord). I will serve You forevere, and shall never be separated from You even for an instant. Servant Nanak is Your slave, O beloved Master. ||4|| I am, a sacrifice - an appreciation I am, Nanak is yours and in your service (my Guru-Father). ||Pause||1||8|| (This 4th Hymn is his thanks after his return from Lahore).
In the turbulant times after Guru Arjun Dev Ji's martydom the Sikhs came to Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji (sixth Guru) and said "O Lord of all the heavens we are in turbulant times where we are preparing and training for battle which is cutting into out Naam/Simran time. Please tell us Sire, what prayers should we recite to make for this?" Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji answered that they should recite the shabads of Guru Arjun Dev Ji that he wrote to Guru Ram Das Ji. These shabads are now known as Sahabd Hazare (pronounced Haz-ar-ray) , for their recited worth is a thousand fold.