One should first take shelter of Gaura-Nityananda
If one only chants, with some slight faith, the holy names of Lord Caitanya and Nityananda, very quickly he is cleansed of all offenses. Thus as soon as he chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, he feels the ecstasy of love for God.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura remarks in this connection that if one takes shelter of Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and Nityananda, follows Their instructions to become more tolerant than the tree and humbler than the grass, and in this way chants the holy name of the Lord, very soon he achieves the platform of transcendental loving service to the Lord, and tears appear in his eyes. There are offenses to be considered in chanting the Hare Krsna maha-mantra, but there are no such considerations in chanting the names of Gaura-Nityananda. Therefore, if one chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra but his life is still full of sinful activities, it will be very difficult for him to achieve the platform of loving service to the Lord. But if in spite of being an offender one chants the holy names of Gaura-Nityananda, he is very quickly freed from the reactions to his offenses. Therefore, one should first approach Lord Caitanya and Nityananda, or worship Guru-Gauranga, and then come to the stage of worshiping Radha-Krsna. In our Krsna consciousness movement, our students are first advised to worship Guru-Gauranga, and then, when they are somewhat advanced, the Radha-Krsna Deity is installed, and they are engaged in the worship of the Lord.
One should first take shelter of Gaura-Nityananda in order to reach, ultimately, Radha-Krsna. Srila Narottama dasa Thakura sings in this connection:
gauranga balite ha’be pulaka sarira
hari hari balite nayane ba’be nira
ara kabe nitai-candera karuna ha-ibe
samsara-vasana mora kabe tuccha habe
visaya chadiya kabe suddha habe mana
kabe hama heraba sri-vrndavana
In the beginning one should very regularly chant Sri Gaurasundara’s holy name and then chant the holy name of Lord Nityananda. Thus one’s heart will be cleansed of impure desires for material enjoyment. Then one can approach Vrndavana-dhama to worship Lord Krsna. Unless one is favored by Lord Caitanya and Nityananda, there is no need to go to Vrndavana, for unless one’s mind is purified, he cannot see Vrndavana, even if he goes there. Actually going to Vrndavana involves taking shelter of the Six Gosvamis by reading the Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, Vidagdha-madhava, Lalita-madhava and the other books that they have given. In this way one can understand the transcendental loving affairs between Radha and Krsna. Kabe hama bujhaba se yugala-piriti. The conjugal love between Radha and Krsna is not an ordinary human affair; it is fully transcendental. In order to understand Radha and Krsna, worship Them and engage in Their loving service, one must be guided by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu and the Six Gosvamis, Lord Caitanya’s direct disciples.
For an ordinary man, worship of Sri Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu or the Panca-tattva is easier than worship of Radha and Krsna. Unless one is very fortunate, he should not be induced to worship Radha-Krsna directly. A neophyte student who is not sufficiently educated or enlightened should not indulge in the worship of Sri Radha and Krsna or the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. Even if he does so, he cannot get the desired result. One should therefore chant the names of Nitai-Gaura and worship Them without false prestige. Since everyone within this material world is more or less influenced by sinful activities, in the beginning it is essential that one take to the worship of Guru-Gauranga and ask their favor, for thus despite all his disqualifications one will very soon become qualified to worship the Radha-Krsna vigraha.
It should be noted in this connection that the holy names of Lord Krsna and Gaurasundara are both identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore one should not consider one name to be more potent than the other. Considering the position of the people of this age, however, the chanting of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s name is more essential than the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra because Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu is the most magnanimous incarnation and His mercy is very easily achieved. Therefore one must first take shelter of Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu by chanting sri-krsna-caitanya prabhu-nityananda sri-advaita gadadhara srivasadi-gaura-bhakta-vrnda. By serving Gaura-Nityananda one is freed from the entanglements of material existence and thus becomes qualified to worship the Radha-Krsna Deity.
Yoga Student :…to chant the names of Nitai-Gauranga before we encourage them so much to chant the maha-mantra?
Prabhupada : No. Why? Now, what is the difference, Nitai-Gauranga and Hare Krsna? Nitai-Gauranga and Hare Krsna, there is no difference. Nitai-Gauranga is also nice. Whatever he finds convenient, let him chant.