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97. Work is Worship

“Do you think I am fool.  You persist on addressing me in saintly terms, as a brahmin, as a sage.  Let me tell you what kind of sage I am Rama!” said Parashurama becoming even more infuriated.

“This bow which I hold in my hands is my sacrificial ladle, Every arrow I shoot is my offering to God, my anger is the sacrificial fire, the armies with all of their chariots and horses and elephants are the fuel.  So many mighty princes who considered themselves great have been cut to pieces and offered into this fire by my axe.   I have performed thousands of religious sacrifices Rama, but I am no ordinary brahmin or sage.  A recitation of vedic verses for me is none other than a war cry.”

“Through naivety you make these contemptuous remarks, completely oblivious to my glory! Mistake me! For a simple brahmin! You have broken this sacred bow, your ignorance is beyond reproach.

Life is worship.  In the crude example of Parashurama we see the concept of making life our offering.  This is the idea of Karma Yoga.  For the world to be sustained we must be in it, fulfilling our duties to family, friends, nations, the earth and all sentient beings.  But every act should be an offering to God rather than something which inflates our own egos.  

Parashurama speaks of the vedic fire yagna, where offerings are poured into a sacrificial fire.  We can also use the work we do in the world as offerings rather than indulgence. 

If we look at the Hindu dance form Bharatnatyam – the dance becomes an offering.  If we look at Yoga asanas – exercise is offering. If we look at Mahatma Gandhi in politics his campaign of non-violent civil disobedience was all simply worship.  This is the most beautiful way to live our lives. 

If we take the example of eating, rather than eating only for the purpose of pleasure, we can sanctify our eating.  Consider that the spoon to be the sacrificial ladle. Consider the digestive system to be the sacred fire called agni, think of even the food you eat as your offering to God. Here we are not thanking God for our food, we are offering our food to the divine.  It is all a part of Brahman and this helps us to realise Brahman in every activity.  The writing of this work nothing but an offering in the same sense.  The Bhagavad Gita in chapter four provides the verse for this message – which is often chanted before meals:

 Brahmarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmagnau Brahmanaahutam
Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam
Brahmakarma Samadhina

The act of offering is God (Brahman), the oblation is God,
By God, it is offered into the Fire of God
God is That which is to be attained by him
who performs action pertaining to God

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