What is worship? Worship is the union of the individual soul with God. It is the individual soul merging with God or becoming one with god. This union may be differently conceived, but it is the very essence of worship.
Many people think that worship means to perform certain rites. Or they feel that by using certain articles and making certain offerings, they are worshipping. Or they think of worship as repeating certain words or certain formulae. Some even think it is practising certain postures of the body. To many people, all these signify as the essence of worship.
However, these by themselves are not really worship. This is not to say that these practices are of no consequence. Every action has its effect. These practices also have their effects. But they do not amount to what constitutes the essence of worship.
Union with God presupposes the consciousness of God. God and man are not really separate entities. Unless there is a pre-existent unity there cannot be any union between God and man.
Man is God but the problem is that he is enshrouded by certain sheaths. These sheaths have clouded his divine Self. When these sheaths are worn out, the divine effulgence bursts forth, and man becomes God. In any case, man feels united with God and feels so one with God that he does not know where he ends and where God begins — the two become one. This is the culmination of worship. Whatever practice that is adopted, or whatever thought, or action helps in wearing out and tearing of the veils that hide the divine Self, is called worship.
We have to remember that man as he is at present, is a weak being. Man is full of errors. He is shortsighted, and is often at the mercy of his circumstances. He, therefore, cannot always determine what will help him in tearing his bondage. It is necessary, therefore, that he should have certain practices prescribed to him, which can be called worship.
Every practice must be made with sincerity and enthusiasm, and it is important for us to constantly watch if our practice is succeeding in lifting our consciousness above the normal level, and is freeing us from the bondage of desire, and taking us nearer to the presence of God.