Hinduism is not satisfied with the realization of the Godhead as a universal unity only.
The sweetness of Divine Unity is, as it were, the substance out of which Hinduism makes many particular preparations, suited to different tastes. They are the Hindu gods and goddesses. They are like so many figures carved out of the sweet rock of Divinity.
Brahma Temple in Khajuraho
To the beginner in religion, the deities are means of realization of the Unity. Besides, they have a deeper meaning. Once the Unity is realized, they are not looked upon as means but as various modes of enjoying the Unity.
Milk can be enjoyed in shapes such as curd, cream, butter, ghee, cheese, paneer… even so, Kali, Durga, Shiva, Vishnu and other deities are the many shapes in which the advanced devotee enjoys the one God.
People with no art in them or with whom religion is talk and not reality, fail to grasp this deep import of what they call ‘idolatry’.
Verily was it said ‘He that hath eyes to see, let him see.’
The sweet rock of Divinity can be molded into innumerable shape. And all shapes and forms contain the sweetness of the Divinity.
Excerpts from an article in Prabuddha Bharata May 1903