Monday Musings -27 – Work is Worship

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We await interesting festivals this week marking the culmination of nine day navrathri celebrations. Different regions in India celebrate navrathri in different manner but the spirit is the same, ie celebration, celebration of positive traits. ‘Ayudha Pooja’ and ‘Vijaya Dasami’ are celebrated as the last two days of navrathri festivities, very popular in South India.

Ayudha Pooja’ also known as ‘Saraswathi Pooja’ is celebrated on the eighth day of navrathri, as a recognition and gratitude for our hard-earned skills and our work which helps us to survive in our life. Is it just survival? No, work which keeps us positive and happy in our life.

Ayudham (ஆயுதம்) in tamil means the tools ie all that represents the skills we learnt so that our work can be efficient. Work and the implements we use in our work are considered divine in our culture. We bow down in respect before using any new tool, we bow down in reverence before our workplace. This is a mark of respecting the skill and the workmanship and not superstitious.

Saraswathi, revered as the goddess of Learning is remembered and worshipped during Ayudha Pooja. Apart from goddess Saraswathi, People worship their business, workplace, machinery, tools essential for the work ie anything and everything connected with ‘worshipping work’.

செய்யும் தொழிலே தெய்வம் – அந்தத்
திறமைதான் நமது செல்வம்
கையும் காலுந்தான் உதவி – கொண்ட
கடமைதான் நமக்குப் பதவி

is a very meaningful tamil long penned by lyricist ‘Pattukottai Kalyanasundaram’. Translation of this song reads as follows:

‘Work is Worship, Skilful execution of work is our wealth

Hands and legs are our implements & the commitment in our work is our position’

What is WORK?

Work is an important as well as interesting element of our life. Everyone must take up some work. Our definition of ‘WORK IS WORSHIP’ is not limited to ‘salaried job’. Anything done to use our skills effectively, anything done to advance in our life, anything done to advance our happiness as well as that of people around us. That is why managing a family is also recognized as work and housewives are known as ‘home makers.’

Let us enjoy a story, Zig Zigler’s “Railroad Story”, a story to prove ‘WORK IS WORSHIP’.


In the 1950s, on an extremely hot day, a crew of men were working on the roadbed of the railroad when they were interrupted by a slow-moving train. The train ground to a stop and a window in the last car-which incidentally was custom-made with air-condition was raised.

“Dave! Dave Anderson, is that you?” the occupant of the air-conditioned coach shouted.

“Yeah, Jim, it’s me,” one from the crew shouted back. The man on the train, Jim Murphy, yelled out, “Well, come on over here and let’s chat a while.”

Dave stopped what he’d been doing and joined Jim Murphy in his private air-conditioned railroad car for almost an hour, no doubt happy to get out of the broiling sun. When the conversation ended, he made his way back to his crew working on the track. The flabbergasted crew stared at him in utter shock and said, “Was that Jim Murphy, the president of railroad?.”

“Yup, it sure was,” Dave said.

They all gathered around Dave and excitedly wanted to know how Dave knew Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad, to say nothing about how he got to be such good buddies with their ultimate boss and on a first-name basis!

Dave explained: “Well, it’s quite simple — when I started with the railroad over 20 years ago, Jim Murphy started at the same time; we’ve been pals ever since.”

Now the crew was even more astonished as much as they were confused. One of the men, half-jokingly and half seriously asked Dave why he was still working out in the hot sun and Jim Murphy had gotten to be the president. Rather wistfully Dave explained, “twenty- three years ago I went to work for $1.75 an hour and Jim Murphy went for the railroad.

“What about you? What are you working for? Are you working for the salary or a career? What are your goals? Are they ordinary or are they extraordinary? Better yet, are they outrageously extraordinary? It would be interesting to introspect during this Ayudha Pooja celebration on this Tuesday.

“If you don’t have a dream that is so outrageous that you couldn’t possibly succeed unless God Himself puts in a personal appearance, you’re not alive.”

Who is the Greatest?

There are three greats in this story.

My first 👍of course is for the organization ‘railroad’ which built the culture to spot the talent, recognize commitment and groom a President internally over a period of 23 years. More Jim Murphys would be motivated to work with the attitude ‘Work is Worship’ in such an organization.

My second 👍is for Dave Anderson who was genuinely happy for his pal becoming the President of the organization and was ready to accept that his pal grew to be the President because of his commitment to work rather than cribbing and complaining about his lack of growth.

The hero of the story Jim Murphy gets the third 👍not just for the commitment to his work but also for his attitude to continue the friendship with Dave Anderson even after rising multiple levels above him. That is another positive attitude.

Introspect if you are developing the culture of identifying, recognizing and rewarding talent and commitment. Introspect if you are working only for the salary or for the love for the job.

All of us need our salaries and ‘looking forward to salary’ is our right. But don’t work only for the salary. Work for the joy the work brings, Love your job and that will bring in commitment in the job.

Introspect during this Ayudha Pooja celebration.

You may ask why am I quoting an american story. Don’t we have stories from the collection of Indian Classical Stories.

There is a very interesting story of how a butcher was reverred for his commitment to his job. Not just a story,  there is a treatise on the importance of ‘commitment to work’ called ‘Vyadha Gita’ ie ‘The Butcher’s Gita’. Yes, a Gita advised by a butcher.  Let us learn about ‘Vyadha Gita’ in the next episode of MONDAY MUSINGS.


Happy Ayudha Pooja and Vijaya Dasami till then.


Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article belong to the author. is neither responsible nor liable for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in the article.



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