Work is Worship
Essay # 1
We sometimes think it would be very nice to have no work to do. If only we had not to go to school and do our lessons, but could have holidays from January to December! If only we had not to work in the fields, or go to the office every morning, or serve in a shop all day, how jolly it would be! And we envy the rich people who do have not to work for a living, but can do just what they like all the year.
Yet when we feel like this, I think we make a mistake. I do not know whether rich people are as happy as we think they are. Very likely they are often very tired of having nothing to do. Of course, there are some people who have too much work, or who have to do very unpleasant work. But most of us are really happier if we have regular work to do for our living, especially if the work is work we like. Idleness is not really happy, and no one can be happy who is idle all his days. So the first thing that work does for us is that it gives us happiness. And the man, who can really enjoy a holiday, is not the man whose whole life is a holiday, but the man who takes his holiday as a change and a rest from hard work.
Then work gives us self-respect. The idler, however rich he is, is living on the work of others. He is like the beggar in the streets, who does not earn his living by honest work but takes the money of others who have had to toil for it. Such people cannot feel independent. They must feel rather ashamed of themselves. But the honest worker, who earns his living by honest and useful toil, can hold up his head and respect himself. Like Longfellow’s Village Blacksmith,
“He looks the whole world in the face
For he owes not any man.”
Lastly, regular work helps to build up our character. It teaches us such good habits as punctuality, carefulness, thoroughness, perseverance, and industry.
Work is Worship
Essay # 2
‘Work is Worship’ is one of the truest proverbs. The idea contained in the saying is that all labor, manual or otherwise, is full of dignity and nobility. It equals work with prayer. It emphasizes the point that empty verbal prayers are not as valuable as a real achievement in any field.
Many people in the present generation, however, have a mistaken idea that manual labour is the means of the power man’s livelihood and has something undignified about it. The higher and the middle classes in our country are apt to look down upon the manual work done by the poorer classes to earn their daily bread. Though in these hard days when the struggle for existence is getting keener and keener, the old ideas about respectability are fast giving place to new ones, yet educated young men are still very slow in appreciating the dignity of labour. They would rather starve than earn their living by honest labour by taking to humble pursuits like dairy farming, poultry farming, etc., in which illiterate people have so far been generally engaged.
Now, when we talk of dignity of labour, we mean manual work such as has to be done by the cultivator, the artisan, or the craftsman. But why should physical labour be regarded as less respectable than mental labour ? Is not the very production of food we eat depends on the hard and tough labour of the farmers. The problem of good supply is the most vital question of the day in our country. All other questions arise only after this question has been satisfactorily solved. But such is the hold of customs and old practices in our society that the man who works continually day and night, in sun and rain, to produce the corn which keeps us alive, is looked down on as mere ‘labour’ by the self-styled ‘higher’ classes.
In western countries and the U.S.A., people do recognize the dignity of labour. There is no servant class in the West. The people of the higher classes, ladies and gentlemen, have to do their household work themselves. They do riot feel any insult in this. It is only in backward countries like India that this theory has to be continually preached. There are too many people in our country yet who consider it beneath their dignity to do their own purchases from the market or brush their own shoes or wash their own clothes. Such a false idea of dignity is not only foolish but is also positively harmful in the sense that it shows a mentality that makes us despise the so-called lower classes. This mentality should first be overcome before we can expect to take steps to produce further to make us for the wrong we do to those who serve us.
We should recognize the fact that all labour is saved. The labour in the field and the artisan in the workshop may have a nobler mission in life than the most learned statesman who makes the laws of the land. He has nothing to be ashamed of, if only he be true to himself and performs his duties rightly put upon him by God. No profession by itself is high and low, dignified and undignified. It is the way in which we pursue it, that makes it sacred or otherwise.
Even since the beginning of history man has been struggling hard to improve his lot. He has fought against the forces of nature all these centuries. And he has already con-trolled or conquered many of these forces. He has toiled hard and suffered a lot. He has done very heavy tasks, although hard physical labour is not considered respectable.
Again, the achievements of science in various fields are the fruits of continued human effort. Man, a small weak creature, is today the master of the world. Why? Because he has worked hard. He has never remained satisfied with what he has achieved. He has always gone on advancing into new fields. His spirit of enquiry is unlimited. His energies are, of course, limited. But he has tamed the air and the sea and the land; he has conquered the animal world, he has solved numberless difficult problems, he has increased his spiritual and mental powers. How has he done this? By constant work.
In ancient times sages and saints used to give us the world and retire to the forests for meditation and silent prayer. They prayed to solve the mystery of the universe. They undertook severe physical hardships. And some of them obtained peace through enlightenment. They succeeded in their own way.
The modern man cannot give up the world. His method of prayer is different. Old religions cannot satisfy him. They cannot solve his problems. So the new religion that he follows is that of worshipping through work. All labour is regarded as dignified in the present age in every progressive country of the world.