In his purport to Caitanya-caritamrta, Adi-lila 8.31, Srila Prabhupada states the following:
"For an ordinary man, worship of Sri Caitanya and Nityananda Prabhu or the Panca-tattva is easier than worship of Radha-Krsna directly."
In the same purport, Srila Prabhupada describes how worshiping Gaura-Nitai and chanting Their holy names relieves one of offenses so that one can eventually worship Radha-Krsna.
One day at our New Gokula farm project in 1975, Bala Krsna Prabhu asked me to go to the Winnipeg temple to help the devotees there in worshiping Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai. I had just finished milking the cows and was quite surprised and honored to receive such a request. Although I knew that the opportunity to serve Their Lordships was a great boon to my feldgling Krsna consciousness, I was somewhat nervous because I had never been on the altar before. Nonetheless I accepted and soon found myself on an airplane headed for Winnipeg, Manitoba in the prairie heartland of Canada.
Years before, I had walked the streets of Winnipeg as a young and unhappy teenager searching for answers to life's mysteries. This time I arrived in the city as a shaven-headed Hare Krsna monk. What a transformation, by Srila Prabhupada's divine grace.
I'll never forget that first morning. The head pujari, Mother Mandari, had spent hours of her time carefully explaining how to dress Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda. I was nervous and spaced-out as usual, but it didn't seem too difficult. Boy, was I wrong.
Somehow or other, various portions of Their Lordships' clothing seemed either too tight or too loose. Undaunted, I improvised as best I could. The clock was ticking and soon the devotees were standing on the other side of the curtain, eager to greet Their beloved Lords in a new outfit for the day. I was late. Very late. I started praying hard. Eventually I was finished, but there was no doubt that I had committed a great offense by holding up the morning schedule. Finally, the conchshell blew and the curtains opened. Just then I heard a loud shriek and watched in horror as a devotee ran up and pulled the curtains closed. I had blown it big time. Foolishly, I had put Lord Caitanya's clothes on Lord Nityananda and Lord Nityananda's clothes on Lord Caitanya. No wonder the clothing didn't fit.
I struggled for hours afterwards trying to remedy the situation, but everyone was upset. The entire morning program was disrupted, including the devotees' morning prasadam. Hours later, the curtains opened, but it was too late. I had made a huge blunder and didn't know if I should carry on with that service or not. Despite the fiasco, the devotees were all very kind and encouraged me to keep trying. I did so; but everyday after dressing Gaura-Nitai, I ran upstairs and hid in the brahmacari room, afraid to look and see the reaction of the devotees. For weeks on end, I tried my best to keep out of sight. Of course, this was sheer stupidity on my part. My only excuse was that I was still a teenager, but I knew that even children could do a much better job than I had done. The memory of it all still makes me cringe with embarrassment.
By Gaur-Nitai's unlimited mercy, I gradually got a little better at Deity worship and was eventually sent to the Montreal yatra for further training by Priyabhakta Prabhu and Mother Jyotiraditya, both experts in their service. But I'll always remember my first introduction to serving the Deity form of the Lord. Thankfully, Gaura-Nitai (and Their devotees) are very compassionate. In the same purport quoted earlier, Srila Prabhupada declares:
"The purpose of the appearance of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda is to dispel the darkness of the soul."
Although my heart is so full of darkness, because of the above experience with Gaura-Nitai, I now have great hope that someday (or some lifetime), I might be blessed with Their inconceivable mercy once again.
All glories to Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai.