Even though God is everywhere, humans worship Gods in the idols and images. Thus, the moment humans see idols and images of Gods, they worship it. In fact, people even build temples around to house it with a sacred object worthy of worship and devotion. Worshipping an image or a stone, is a standard practice for Hindus everywhere around the world.
However, there is a difference between the stones from a temple to a normal stone we find elsewhere. Hindus do not worship just any stone, but only those stones are worshipped that have been installed at home or in a temple. These stones are believed to contain Prana (energy) or the self of the deity, furthermore, it is complimentary to remember the Hindu Philosophy that God is omnipresent.
Thus, even though we may find it less rational, we find God in an object. However, there are good reasons behind this. The difference is about the perception of the Prana or Divinity. According to Vedic traditions and explanations, Prana or the Divine self is the Atman, or the Self.
The stone is known as ‘Rayi’, according to Sanskrit. Prasna Upanishad says that at the beginning of the creation, Prajapati performed a penance and established a pair – Rayi and Prana – that would go together to produce many beings. The Rayi is believed to be symbolic of creation. To be more specific, it is the creation of the nature, matter, energy or Shakti. It contains the tattvas and finite realities such as elements and organs. These are quite opposite of self, or the object reality, that we can perceive through our senses and then objectify. Prana, on the other hand, is the subjective reality, or otherwise, the Self, which cannot be objectified. The mind and the body are the part of objective reality and it is the part of the building block of mortal world.
In the ancient world, people used stones to convey that stones are important to express the truth of creation. The purpose is to show that the stone can be sacred when we perceive God in them. Hindus don’t worship stone, but the deity in it, the one with all the source of Prana and energy. And the stone does not need to be beautiful or symmetrical, especially in the rural areas or it does not need to have a specific form. Stones can decay and be destroyed too, just like anything else in the creation. But we still decorate it and worship it with devotion, knowing that the God would not be seen otherwise.
The important lesson here is that God inhabits everything in the universe, which is depicted by the words in Isa Upanishad: “Isa Vasya midam sarvam”. Thus, everything in the creation is the same just as the stone or the place of worship.
Hence, it is not necessary to visit a temple to believe in God, you can worship God anywhere because God is everywhere. You can see God anywhere where you want God to be seen. It points to the connection with God and the creation, between Prana and Rayi, between two realities of existence – the Shiva and Parvathi.
Creation is an illusion, but we cannot ignore it since it is the aspect of God. And we need to treat and respect it just as we respect our body. What it means is that praying a stone should not be a matter of mockery. You can worship God anywhere in anything but the core is that it is not sufficient to see the God in just the images and stones. We must acknowledge him to be present anywhere.