Work is workship, workship is not work

Table of Content

Parminder Kaur
Abstract: Work means action which involves effort and exertion; It is the essence of life. No action means no life. Worship means giving reverence to some power. All enjoyment, all achievement and all progress come from this magic word ‘work’. It is the primary thing around which whole life revolves. It also means the realization of God. Blessed is the person who has found his work and he needs no other blessings. Work spares us from evils like boredom, vice and need. There is no substitute for hard work. Without work life gets rotten. No wonder, when a person does his job with single-minded commitment and devotion, it is considered as good as worship. Worship makes us noble and pious so does work which helps us to build our character. As there is dignity in worship, so there is dignity in work. If a man engages himself with all his might in developing technologies or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in the churches and temples. Keywords: Work, worship, religion, happine1ss

1 Introduction:
The most important question that has been haunting man since times immemorial is who created man and the universe. Though no precise and all convincing answer is available even today, yet one thing is commonly believed that some supreme power ,which different people call by different names and generally called God, created man as well as the universe. In earlier times when man had little control over the forces of nature and was unable to comprehend the various natural phenomena, he was mortally afraid of these. It is common to believe that man worships God in his different forms in order to express his gratefulness to that supreme power which not only created him but also gave him everything and virtually made him the master of the universe. However, I believe that it was not as much due to the sense of gratitude that man started worshipping God as due to the fear of natural calamities and disasters that he had to face so frequently. Another reason why people worship God and his different incarnations is obviously their demands and desires which they want to be fulfilled by propitiating the unseen supernatural powers which they believe can do anything for them and provide them anything just by a miracle. Thus, worship of the mysterious can be the result of all three things: gratefulness, fear and worldly desires. The concept of worship, work and religion has been explained in the following sections. 1.1 Worship

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Since the word ‘worship’ is associated with everything that is divine, it has attained an aura of holiness. In fact, God, religion and worship have become synonymous and it has become very difficult to differentiate these from one another. The word worship has various positive virtues like dedication, devotion, commitment, sincerity, selflessness, honesty, truthfulness and faithfulness. To quote Tennyson, people believe that “more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” The word worship appears in the title of this paper twice and the meaning of the word worship at the first place is quite different from that of other. Whereas in the first place it is used in a highly positive and appreciable sense, in the second it is used in a very negative meaning. Before proceeding further with the theme, we must try to understand the negative association which the word worship has attained. According to Swami Vevekananda “The gist of all worship is to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor and in diseased really worships Shiva and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary.”

Worship of God or nature or any supreme power in its purest form may not be bad in any way and indeed there are people who have been doing it during all times but what the majority of people do in the name of worship is something different from the type of worship mentioned above. They generally go to holy places and perform rituals which are totally meaningless and absurd. These rituals include wandering in forests, renouncing family life, keeping fasts, burning incenses, chanting mantras, going on pilgrimages, taking holy dip etc. Some people keep awake at night and try to please God by singing his praises at the highest pitch, not hesitating even to use loudspeakers at full volume, creating lot of hardships to the people living around. Others hold big congregations perhaps to show God how many people they can collect. There is no end to such ritualistic activities which people do in the name of religion and God. Thus, when we say work is worship we use the word worship in its first sense and when we say worship is not work we use it in the second sense. 1.2 Work:

It brings me straight to the key word of my topic, that is work – its importance and its role in human life. All progress of mankind in different fields is the results of work and work alone. It is the essence of life, secret of happiness and the key to success. All great men of the world sweated and toiled so that the world might be a better place to live in. Nature has given us an inexhaustible reserve of energy which we are expected to use in the best possible way. Honest work leads not only to success and happiness but also to self-satisfaction. There has never yet been a man in history who lead a life of ease and whose name is worth remembering. In the words of H.W.Longfellow “The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upwards in the night.”
So it is rightly said that the noblest men that live on earth are the men whose hands are brown with toil. Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. We admire work so much because work means action, and action is the very essence of life. We can drink and taste the nectar of life only if we work. All enjoyment, all achievement and all progress come from this magic word.. Work is the primary thing around which the whole life revolves. It is the only means to the realization of God. Blessed is the person who has found his work and he needs no other blessings. Work spares us from evils like boredom, vice and need. It is the grand cure of all maladies and miseries. Work is our companion as well as teacher. There is no substitute for hard work. Without work, life gets rotten. We can see the magic and achievements of work when we go into memory lane and try to recollect as to what man was, centuries back. Man was then, no better than an animal, he lived like an animal, ate like an animal, stayed naked like an animal, and above all lived with the animals. How, then has man come to the present stage of development and progress, how has he changed his one time animal like appearance into the smart and handsome appearance of a human being? This happened not because of his idleness but his selfless work and toil for humanity. All this, yes, all this is the result of man’s work. 1.3 Work as Worship:

Work means action which involves effort and exertion and, worship means giving reverence to some power. Now knowing the meanings of these two words, let us analyze as to how work can be worship. It is so in this way that, when we revere our work, we are in other words, adoring work, respecting work, and giving it a high acclaim. No wonder, when a person does his job with singleminded commitment and devotion, it is considered like worship. Worship makes us noble and pious so does work which helps us to build our character. As there is dignity in worship so there is dignity in work. If a man engages with all his power in the acquisition of science or in the perfection of an art, it is as if he has been worshipping God in the churches and temples.

1.4 Work, Worship and Religion:
In ancient time sages and saints used to give up the world and go into the jungles for quiet prayers and mediation. They contemplated and prayed to solve the riddles of the universe. They underwent severe physical hardships but the modern man can not give up the world. His method of prayer is different. Old religions do not satisfy him and the new religion that he follows is that of worships through work. If we begin work as worship, we have the reward in the work itself. Work is not man’s punishment, it is his strength and pleasure. The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it. According to the New Testament, “If any person would not work, neither should he eat.” The world’s most ancient philosophical masterpiece, the Bhagawad Gita [1] states “By worship of the Lord who is the source of all beings and who is all pervading, a man can attain perfection by performing his own work.” Describing the ideal nature of work, Lord Krishna says that real work (Karm) is that which is done without caring for the reward. Kirat Karo, Naam Japo and Wandd Ke Shako are primary pillars of Sikhism. The term ‘Kirat’ means to earn an honest, pure and dedicated living by exercising one’s God given skills , abilities , talents and doing labour for the benefit and improvements of the individuals and their families and the society at large. This means to work with determination. Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of the Sikh religion, himself embodies a life of action. He says that man can carve out his destiny through his own deeds. A man leading an idle life suffers all weaknesses of life. A person of real acumen becomes a creative man but a talkative one who indulges in mere prattle destroys himself. Swami Vivekananda says that God is merciful to those whom He sees struggling heart and soul for His realization. But one who remains idle and does no struggle, you will see that His grace will never come to him. 1.5 Worship not Work:

The ritualistic type of worship is condemned by our great Gurus, sages and thinkers with logic. They are dead against the baseless rituals performed to win the grace of God. There are a number of examples in Sri Guru Granth Sahib that lay stress on hard work. Bhagat Kabir [2] says, “ Haath Pao Sab Kam Kar Cheet Niranjan Naal” (While working with your hands, your mind must be with God). Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore [3] in one of his famous poems preaches the gospel of work and strongly condemns the worship as work. He writes: “Leave this chanting and singing and telling of beads.

Whom dost thou worship in this lonely dark corner of a temple with doors all shut? Open thine eyes and see thy God is not before thee!
He is there where the tiller is tilling the hard ground.
And where the path maker is breaking stones.
He is with them in sun and in shower.
And his garment is covered with dust.
Put off thy holy mantle and even like Him come down on the dusty soil!” 2. Idleness:
An idle person has much time at his disposal to do anything still he does nothing. An idler has no self-respect and his conscience always pricks him. Any work is better than no work. Rather than sit idle one should do something. Rest is rust and it is better to wear out than to rust out. The end of man’s life is action and not reflection though it were the noblest. The actions of a man are immortal not the man himself. James Shirley [4] has rightly said “Only the actions of the just; smell sweat and blossom in their dust”. No work means no life. Honest labour bears a lovely face. The shine, the glow and the satisfaction you can see on your face after hard toil is unique. On the other hand, an idle man’s brain is called a devil’s workshop which simply means that an idle man always thinks of mischiefs, his approach to life becomes negative and his temperament becomes destructive. Work organises life, it gives structure and discipline to life. A man can win God’s grace by burning midnight oil, not by sitting idle and praying and praying for hours together. Our tools and our work are pious offerings to God. 3. The Best Way To Work:

The best way to work is to enjoy work, for only when we enjoy doing it, can it be of an exquisite order. It is only when we enjoy a task that it gets done well and we also do not feel the burden. As soon as the work becomes a burden, it loses its sanctity of being worship, and then its quality also goes down. Our aim must be to enjoy work, no matter what it may be. Only then can we aspire to achieve the optimum result; only when we take work as worship i.e. a thing to be revered and worshipped, shall we be giving work its due. Work can create wonders, work can help us to wade through hot waters and of work there is no substitute, as work is worship. Swami Vivekananda states, “Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection comes through selfless work.” The people who are found to be successful are just the ones who work hard, and work constantly, never getting tired of work. Work in fits and starts does not really help. For any worthwhile achievement, work has to be a continuous process just like prayer or worship. The very small creatures, ants provide us an inspiring example of industriousness. They motivate us to work and work and no rest – not by giving discourses but by becoming examples themselves. They show the magic of work to shirkers and idlers who want easy success and try to please God with superstitious rituals and impure hearts .Can God be happy? No, God likes honest working hands. It will be very appropriate to quote here H. W. Longfellow’s [5] following highly inspiring lines: Let us then be up and doing

With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing
Learn to labour and to wait
The true secret of happiness lies in work and only work. If you have something to do, you must thank God. The secret of happiness is something to do; some congenial work. Take away the occupation of all men and what a wretched world it would be! How important is health to happiness, yet the best promoter of health is something to do. Blessed is the man who has some congenial work, some occupation in which he can put up his heart and which affords the complete outlet to all the forces there are in him. Life is not only a beauty but a hard duty also. Our work will be a true worship of God when we do it with dedication and devotion and there is excellence in our work. Our actions are our fruit. Our happiness is bound with our hard work. Toil is the blessing of the earth. So we should revere our work as worship and not waste time in idle rituals to make worship a work.


1. Bhagawad Gita, Chapter18
2. Slok Bhagat Kabir ji, Sri Guru Granth Sahib, page-1376
3. Getanjali by Rabindranath Tagore
4. Death the Leveller by James Shirley
5. Voices of the Night (A Psalm of Life) By H. W. Longfellow

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