This story took place in Dakshineshwar, a small town in Calcutta, India. The town had been blessed with several temples devoted to various deities, such as Goddess Kali, Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva. Every day, the priests would worship all of the idols and perform sacred rituals in honour of them. In this town also resided the great Saint Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa. Shri Ramkrishna was an ardent devotee of Goddess Kali and worshipped Her day and night.
One day, while performing his daily rituals, a priest noticed that the idol of Lord Krushna looked old and worn, with its colours faded. So he suggested to the other priests that it be replaced with a new one. To help them make a decision, the priests called a meeting of the town elders. Every one agreed that the idol needed replacing. Suddenly, an elder realised that no one had asked Shri Ramkrishna for His opinion on the matter.
On being asked, Shri Ramkrishna replied, “If a loved one falls ill, do we have them replaced? Or do we seek a cure for their illness? The same should be done in this case. Let us paint and restore the idol and re-install it for worship. An idol of God should be viewed not merely as a statue, but as a symbol of God. Only when treated with reverence and worshipped with faith and devotion, can any benefit be derived from its worship.”
The town’s people were moved by Shri Ramkrishna’s words. The idol was painted a new and re-installed for all to worship.
Moral: Just as God exists in His Name, God exists in His form. Only when we regard the idol or physical form of God, as God Himself, as opposed to mere stone, do we derive the benefit of its worship. Hence, every time we come across an idol, image or other representation of God, let us remember this story and treat it with respect, faith and devotion.