Rishi Sounaka has shown us how important it is to treat the Lord in idol form with utmost regard. We must not think of the consecrated idol as made of stone or metal. If we do, we will be sinning. In the same way, we must treat the pictures of God we have at home with devotion. We must not even refer to them as pictures.
Suppose we want someone to place a string of flowers around, say, a picture of Lord Krishna, we must not say to them, “Put these flowers on the picture of Lord Krishna.” We should instead say, “Place these flowers around Lord Krishna's neck.” We must realise that the Lord resides in the pictures that we have put up for worship. If we realise this, we will automatically treat the pictures with reverence and will stop seeing them as mere pictures, but as the Lord Himself coming to our houses, said K.B. Devarajan.
Again, there should be no pride in our approach to worship, whether at home or in temple. There may be people who are wealthy and can therefore afford to have idols made of gold. But they should not boast that they have gold idols of the Lord. This would be like valuing the gold, for which a value can be assigned, over the Lord, for whom no value can be set.
Among the Vaishnavite saints known as Azhvars, Thirumangai Azhvar was well known for his visits to temples and his worship and praise of the deities in these temples. He was constantly on the move, visiting one temple after another.
There is no doubting that the ultimate goal of everyone should be moksha. But while on this earth, we must worship God in temples. Thirumangai Azhvar's visits to temples may be likened to the visits that a newly married girl makes to her friends' houses, before she departs to her husband's house. Before he attains moksha, Thirmangai Azhvar visited as many temples as possible.
Usually people get religious instruction from an Acharya. Such was Thirumangai Azhvar's devotion to the Lord's idol forms that he got Sri Vaishnava diksha from the Lord of the Thirunaraiyur temple.
And the meaning of the mantras was made explicit to him in yet another temple.