Vivekananda explained Idol Worship
During his wandering days, Swami met the Dewan of the State of Alwar, who introduced him to the Maharajah who was very anglicised in his views and manners, and held most Hindu religious practices in contempt. Once the Maharajah raised the topic of image worship with the Swami and spoke disparagingly about it.
Pointing to an oil painting of the Maharajah on the wall, the Swami asked the Dewan to spit on it. The Dewan exclaimed that such an act would be insulting the Maharajah. The Swami thereupon asked him how it would be an insult to the Maharajah, since it was only some canvas and paint.
Then turning to the Maharajah, he pointed out that just as the picture was by association of ideas identified as him, a believing devotee identifies an idol as the deity itself.
Source: “Mastering Essay & Answer Writing for UPSC Civil Services IAS/ IPS & State PSC Main Exam” by Dr Awdhesh Singh, available at