The general view is that work is done in the office, the factory or the fields and worship is done in a temple or a church or a mosque. The feeling is that we work to earn money and we worship to get the blessings of God. However, the proverb ‘Work is Worship’ combines the idea of work and worship.
Work, the dictionary says, refers to physical or mental effort spent to produce or accomplish something. And the word ‘worship’ comes from the old English word ‘worth-ship’, which means giving worth to something.
So when the wise ones said ‘work is worship’, they meant doing what we do with the sense of worthiness or respect. When we understand that all work – big or small – is valuable and do it with reverence, then our work becomes worship. Work is worship, thus, speaks about the right attitude towards work.
All great people accomplished noble deeds, discovered new things, invented new products only because of their right attitude towards work. Edison, for example, held a world record of 1093 patents for inventions. All these were possible because of his worshipful attitude towards his work.
The mother at home works with the same attitude. Whether it is sweeping or cleaning the utensils or preparing food, she does it with love and care. Cooking, cleaning, sweeping may be lowly tasks but the mother with her worshipful outlook towards work changes daily chores into joyful jobs.
In the Mahabharata, the Pandavas performed a grand ceremony called ‘Rajasuya Yaga’. Kings were invited from all over the country to attend the function. Each member of the Pandava family was assigned some work. Lord Krishna was given the task of washing the feet of the guests who came to the ceremony. He, the great Lord Himself, washed the feet of the guests with His own hands and set a perfect example.
Thus, it becomes clear that work done with the sense of worthiness or respect is worship.