Worship or Work - which is better?

Last evening, as we were returning from a village camp, one of the young brothers brought up this question in the bus. He asked me, "Brother, if someone wants to sit in worship and is not ready to come and attend a service activity because he wants to sit in prayer, is that right?"
My initial reaction was,"Of course not!" But then, I paused to think - who am I to decide what is right or what is wrong in a scenario like that. After all, wasnt each of us engaging in that activity which makes us feel closer to God? It may be work for some and worship for some others. I delved into what I have learnt at the lotus feet of My master, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba varu and immediately saw some clarity emerging. Swami would never say that one path was right or wrong. He would simply encourage the people who believed in worship to worship with more feeling. He would encourage an enthusiastic bunch of Seva workers to work more zealously as an offering unto the Divine. He would always look at what the feeling is behind the act. The act itself was never so important to Him.
So, if there is someone who wants to sit in prayer instead of jumping into the society and serving others, perhaps the prayerful person is right in his own standpoint. Then what happens to the adage, "Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray."
Sri Ramakrishna epitomized loving
devotion which inspired millions
Well, when the hands are not engaged in service, the lips that pray are certainly better - aren't they. Also, who knows what transformation that prayer is bringing about in others. Let us take the case of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. We do not come across any instance where he was engaged in social work. But, look at the institution of the Ramakrishna Mission today - it renders yeoman service to mankind in various ways. So, who knew that the silent, prayerful Ramakrishna was actually bringing about a deeper, inner change in people which would make them render such service in the coming years. So, if we view this from another level, maybe the silent, prayerful people send out far more powerful vibrations which do matter.
Once Swami was telling us that in a meal, we have a variety of ingredients like chapati, rice, dal, sambar, curry, curd, pickle etc. All of them together constitute a meal and not just any one of them. Similarly, japa, dhyana, seva, bhajan - all of these constitute Sadhana. Only one of them in exclusivity will not necessarily get you there. Didn't the meditative Ramana Maharshi compose and sing hymns in praise of God? Did not Saint Tyagaraja, known for his melodious kirtanas complete the likhita Rama koti nama?
Swami used to tell us a story from the Ramanyana very often, about Hanuman and Vibhishana. It seems when Hanuman went to Lanka in search of Mother Sita, he was surprised to hear the sound of the name of Sri Rama from one of the houses in Lanka. He jumped onto it and peeped in to see who was chanting Lord Rama's name in Ravana's Lanka. He saw Vibhishana, the brother of Ravana and both of them exchanged pleasantries. When Vibhishana asked Hanuman why he did not have the good fortune of having Lord Rama's darshana although he was praying to Him everyday, Hanuman replied, "O Vibhishana, although you have been chanting Rama Nama(name), you have not yet engaged yourself in Rama Karya(Rama's work). Only when you are engaged in service to Rama will you be able to have His darshana. Mother Sita has been imprisoned in the Ashoka Vatika. What have you done about it?" It was only when Vibhishana decided to give up the company of Ravana and be of service to Rama that he could have Rama's darshana. However, Swami would tell us this story to drive home the point that when you have the ability, energy and fitness - you must engage yourself in God's work along with your devotional practices.
I would like to conclude by saying that whatever the means, it is only to attain purity of mind that we engage in any of these activities. If purity of mind cannot be cultivated, then that means is certainly worth giving up since it is only when one attains purity of mind that one can attain the Divine which is the goal of human life.
The argument about which is greater or lesser is only for those who want to waste away precious time in comparisons and competitions. The wise man neither compares nor competes. What works for one is known only to the one in the thick of things.
At some level, I guess - Work is worship and Worship is Work. Is it not?

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Links to other blogs:

To read a blog on how we can know whether we truly love God, read http://venugopalbh.blogspot.com/2013/08/do-we-love-god.html#!/2013/08/do-we-love-god.html

To read a blog on the power to change destiny or fate, read http://venugopalbh.blogspot.com/2013/06/destiny-can-we-change-it.html#!/2013/06/destiny-can-we-change-it.html

To read a blog on how we should motivate ourselves to keep up spiritual practices, read http://venugopalbh.blogspot.com/2013/05/spiritualitythe-bitter-pill.html#!/2013/05/spiritualitythe-bitter-pill.html


Rajender Battu said…
The point to drive home is "Purity of Mind" which I feel is important for any of the flavours of Sadhana.
@Rajender - In fact, that is the aim of all Sadhana - to achieve purity of mind.
Excellent venu . Thought provoking topic. What matters is the intensity i suppose. When tears start rolling down , whether it is worship or work , it doesn't matter. We will know it.
Excellent venu . Thought provoking topic. What matters is the intensity i suppose. When tears start rolling down , whether it is worship or work , it doesn't matter. We will know it.
@Vijayanand - you hit the nail on the head. Once Swami was mentioning to us that the moment of absolute bliss is that when the intensity to love God sublimates every other thought.

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