When a house is being built, the workers put up a scaffolding to help them in their work. As soon as the construction is complete, they take down the scaffolding as it has no further use. For those who have realised wisdom, there is no need for temples. They have no use for rituals either. But, for those who have still a long way to go, temples and rituals are essential to train their minds. If you shape a handful of clay into a lingam (worshipped by many as Lord Siva), the Almighty (Brahman) who is present everywhere will not cease to exist in the lingam.
Someone asked Ramakrishna Paramhansahow anyone could worship an idol made of clay. Ramakrishna replied, “Why do you think of it as clay, or stone or bronze? Why don’t you think of it as God’s own image? When He is present in everything, why can’t he be present in the idol too? Why can’t you pray to Him when you pray to the idol? God is present in everything, whether it is in the form of clay, wood, stone or metal. There is nothing in which he does not exist. He exists even in a drop of water. The water you drink that quenches your thirst is God. When you recite the names of Naaraayana with a tulasimaala in your hand, every one of the tulasi beads is Naaraayana.”
When the sky becomes dark and there is thunder and lighting, there is God in the rain-bearing clouds. When the rains fall and water falls in streams, God is present in it too. When a devotee performs the sandhyaavandhanam (evening prayers), usually on the banks of a river, he says, “Oh, life-giving water, may your joy (in what you do) be mine. May your power enter my body and make me strong. Help me to broaden my vision. May your life-sustaining power nourish me as a mother would nurture her child. You cleanse everything and then flow away. May you give me that ability and cleanse my mind. I prostrate myself before you!” He then sprinkles a few drops of water on his head and puts a few drops of water from his palm into his mouth. God’s present in that water too.