Worshipping the idols of God in temples gives us peace of mind, and incomparable joy. Those who are regular temple goers will not trade such a joy even for moksha, Kidambi Narayanan said in a discourse. Vaishnavite saint Alavandar had five sons, one of whom was Sottai Nambi. In his last days, Sottai Nambi would tell people that moksha was guaranteed to him because he was Alavandar’s son. But he would say that if Lord Mahavishnu in Sri Vaikuntha did not resemble Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, who was dear to Sottai Nambi, then Nambi would opt to come back to the earth. He would rather worship Ranganatha at Srirangam than Lord Mahavishnu in Sri Vaikuntha. Such was Nambi’s involvement in idol worship.

Hanuman, who served Lord Rama so loyally, was also devoted to the form of Rama, and was not interested, therefore, in following Rama at the end of the Rama avatara. He said to Rama that in Sri Vaikuntha, He would not have the same form as Rama. He would not be seen with His bow and arrow. That was the form of the Lord that Hanuman wished to continue worshiping; so he refused the boon of going to Sri Vaikuntha.

Thondaradippodi Azhvar said he would not want to go to SriVaikuntha. He would gladly refuse that joy and would instead feast his eyes on the green-hued Ranganatha, who had lips that were the colour of corals, and eyes like red lotuses. Tiruppannazhvar said that having seen Lord Ranganatha, his eyes would not see anything else and upon completion of the ten verses he composed, he reached the lotus feet of Lord Ranganatha. Saint Tukaram said he forgot to do the evening rituals because he was so immersed in worshipping Vittala.

All the examples cited above show that the way to worship God’s idol form is with one’s eyes open. Often, people close their eyes the moment the camphor is lit and lights up the sanctum sanctorum. Instead, they should open their eyes wide, and take in the Lord’s charm and beauty. That is the proper way to worship His idol. Parasara Bhattar once told a worshipper that by closing his eyes instead of seeing the Lord, the worshipper was sinning. God’s form is auspicious and seeing it is important.