SHABAD (SABAD) HAJĀRE, also called Hajāre de Sabad, is a collection of seven hymns taken from the Gurū Granth Sāhib and grouped together for the purpose of daily recitation. The title Shabad Hajāre occurs nowhere in the Gurū Granth Sāhib, though it has found its way into breviaries (guṭkās) in which these seven sabads appear under this heading immediately after the Japu (ji) . The word 'hajāre', or 'hazāre' could be derivative of the Arabic word 'hijr' which means separation, or of the Arabic 'hāzir' which means present. Shabad Hajāre would thus imply hymns uttered in pangs of separation from the Lord or those which constantly bring to one's mind His presence.
The first hymn, by Gurū Arjan, Nānak V, has been taken from Rāga Mājh. It is a chaupada, i.e., comprising four stanzas. It is believed that all the four stanzas are, in fact, letters written by Gurū Arjan to his father, Gurū Rām Dās. As the story goes, once Sahārī Mall, first cousin of Gurū Rām Dās, elder to him, invited the Gurū to attend the marriage of his son at Lahore. The Gurū unable to go himself wanted one of his sons to represent him at the ceremony. He asked Prithī Chand, his eldest son, to go to Lahore to fulfil the social obligation on his behalf, but the latter made an excuse and declined to undertake the trip to Lahore. The second son, Mahādev, was of a retiring nature and had little interest in worldly affairs. Arjan, the youngest, forthwith offered to do his father's bidding and left for Lahore. He had instructions to remain there until recalled. Receiving no message for several weeks to return to Chakk Gurū (Amritsar), he started missing his Gurū-father. He wrote to him two letters in verse one after the other which were intercepted by his brother, Prithī Chand. Arjan Dev wrote a third one marking it number 3. This letter did reach Gurū Rām Dās who had the first two recovered from Prithī Chand's house. Young Arjan was immediately sent for. On his arrival in Amritsar, he recited extempore a fourth stanza expressing his joy at returning to the presence of the Gurū. Some believe that this fourth stanza was composed when Arjan was formally installed as Gurū by his father, for he could not have used until then, the nom de plume Nānak, which occurs in the penultimate line of this stanza.
The second hymn, by Gurū Nānak, has been taken from Rāga Dhanāsrī. It is an invocation to God, the Merciful, who is the Liberator of all and by whose favour alone men turn to Him. To remain attached ever to His Name is the gift sought by the true devotees. The next two hymns, also by Gurū Nānak are from Rāga Tilaṅg. The first of these exalts those who absorb themselves in God's Name. Thus is māyā or illusion ended; thus one realizes oneself and attains union with the Divine. The image used to describe this ultimate state of union is that of husband and wife. In the hymn following, the emphasis is on love and surrender which, according to Gurū Nānak, are the ultimate means of attaining discernment and release. Devotion, freedom from greed and attachment, and obedience to the Divine Will are the virtues repeatedly applauded.
The fifth hymn is again of Gurū Nānak’s composition and occurs in Rāga Sūhī. It consists of four stanzas with a deeply mystical strain. Its theme is illimitableness, ineffableness and all-pervasiveness of God. The last two hymns, again by Gurū Nānak, are from Rāga Bilāval each having four stanzas. Both are in praise of God, the Creator, who is infinite, ineffable and unknowable. His will prevails in the world. His Word is the music which the seers hear in their moments of ecstasy. By His grace one attains the vision unattainable.
Words like 'chātrik' and 'sāraṅg' which in Indian poetic tradition symbolize the lover's longing for the beloved have been used in these hymns to describe the devotee's love for the Lord.
Likewise, use has been made of some mythological terms as well. For instance, the word 'kaljug' (the dark age of vice and strife) signifies the pangs of separation. The word 'māyā' (illusion) refers to the transience and allurement of worldly attachments and carnal pleasures. On the whole, this is a collection of seven devotional hymns. They recite in intensely emotional and spiritual terms the glory of God, Who is the source of love, compassion and grace. The yearning of the human soul for the Divine and the means to attain union with Him have found expression in homely, but striking, images and symbols. The language of these sabdas is Punjabi with a mixture of the vocabulary and, at places, even of the grammatical constructions, of Sādh Bhāṣā.