Man being God’s creation, he will need His protection at every stage of his existence. He cannot function independently and one way by which he seeks God’s grace is to offer worship in temples and in his own house.
The temple is a place of sanctity and its structure is akin to that of man’s body. Like God being seated in his heart, God is enshrined in the temple’s sanctum sanctorum. While offering his worship to consecrated images, man submits himself to the almighty and appeals for His compassion. He enjoys the vision of God because for him, God lives and breathes in the idols. For some of the devotees, God presents Himself in “Salagramam”, a special stone formation obtained from the high attitudes of Nepal.
A notable feature of Hinduism is the liberty given to every individual to pray before any form of God. The choice in his as numerous forms has been made available. There is no conflict between one form and another as the devotee reaches the same destination. The courses followed by rivers may be different but they join the ocean ultimately.
There are short and easy religious paths to avoid circuitous routes, which will naturally delay his arrival at the final point. The path of Surrender, entrusting himself to God has been advocated by some, as the easiest. Under this, he surrenders at the feet of God through the intervention of a spiritual guide who is qualified to lead him to His presence.
The idols have been carved out on the basis of information and description of God in His incarnations, particularly as Rama and Krishna contained in the scriptures. The people of ancient India saw God even in the elements of Nature such as the earth, the ether, the sea, the mountains and rivers. They were awestruck by the vastness of the ocean and the grandeur of the latter and drew inspiration from the flow of the brooks.
Those who stand on the shore of the sea pick up shells and conches, while a few who swim to a little distance obtain pearls. Those who go to the mid-portion are gifted with more precious things Likewise, each according to his prayer, experiences God and receives God’s grace.
In a discourse, Swami Ranga Priya mentioned about the different poses in which God’s images have been chiseled. He is seen as reclining or standing or walking as man conducts himself and according to the wishes of His devotees. He is worshipped as “Varaha” with the Divine consort, in one of the holy places near Madras. This manifestation was taken to retrieve the universe that was kept hidden by demon, under the sea. This form of the Lord reminds men that He is ready to make His appearance before them at the time of their departure from the world. While all faculties will fail to function at that time, for those to whom He has granted His approval to take them to His abode, He will reveal Himself.