There are yogis who are able to see the Lord who resides in their hearts. Those who see God in everything are described as ‘sarvatra sama darshi’ by Lord Krishna.
They see God in everything they behold; they do not distinguish between different things. They know that the atma in everything has the same qualities. But what about those who cannot see the Lord in everything? They can still see the Lord in the form of an idol in temples. Acharyas like Ramanuja have worshipped Lord Narayana in idol form, yet they were undoubtedly great men who could see the Lord in everything. They needed no special impetus to worship. This shows that there is a special quality to the idol form of the Lord, K.B. Devarajan said in a discourse.
Since these great Acharyas saw God in everything, they naturally saw Him in the idols too. In other words, they were the ‘Sarvatra sama darshis’ spoken of by Lord Krishna, but these people, who could see God in everything, still took to the worship of idols in temples, thereby showing the importance of temple worship. We may wonder what is so special about our idols.
We may even ask why we should worship His idol form if He is everywhere. There is no doubting that air is all around us. Does this mean we do not have to fill up the tubes in car tyres with air? We have to, because for our special purpose — namely to make the car run — we need air in the tubes. It is not enough if there is air all around us. It must be there, where we need it. In the same way, God is everywhere, but since we are not people with gnana who are capable of seeing Him in everything, we need to focus on our idols.
But why would Acharyas whose gnana was unsurpassed need to worship temples? They wanted to show to everyone that the Lord is in temples, because of His love for us.
There is no need for the Lord to come down to Earth and enable us to see Him in idol form. He comes only for our sake, to save us.
His presence in temples is an indication of His infinite mercy. Hence our Acharyas paid tributes to His idol form.