Every yuga has its own avatar, avatar’s abode, avatar’s mantra, way of worship that avatar, etc. Avataris of Kali yuga are Sri Nityananda and Gauranga. So They should be worshiped completely as avataris (not just as ‘devotees’, oh, Lord! 😮 !) as is the case with all other avatars.
Below are excerpts from Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura’s ‘Jaiva Dharma’ Chapter 14, where sakti-tattva was discussed as the main subject matter of instruction. However, the hidden treasure was unexpectedly inserted into it. One may notice it, or not… The text itself answers so many questions:
VRAJANĀTHA: There is one thing that I wish to know concerning dhāma-tattva. Kindly tell me, why do the Vaiṣṇavas refer to Navadvīpa as Śrīdhāma?
BĀBĀJĪ: Śrī Navadvīpa-dhāma and Śrī Vṛndāvana-dhāma are non-different from each other, and Māyāpura is the highest truth within Navadvīpa-dhāma. The relationship of Śrī Māyāpura to Navadvīpa is the same as the relationship of Śrī Gokula to Vraja. Māyāpura is the Mahā-Yogapīṭha (the great place of meeting) of Navadvīpa. According to the śloka, CHANNAḤ KALAU, of Śrīmad- Bhāgavatam (7.9.38), the plenary avatāra of Bhagavān who appears in Kali-yuga (Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu) is COVERED, and similarly, His holy abodes are also covered. In Kali-yuga, no other holy place is equal to Śrī Navadvīpa. Only one who can realize the transcendental nature of this dhāma is actually qualified for vraja-rasa. From an external, material point of view, both Vraja-dhāma and Navadvīpa-dhāma appear to be mundane. Only those whose spiritual eyes have by some good fortune been opened can see the dhāma as it is.
VRAJANĀTHA: I want to know the svarūpa of this Navadvīpa-dhāma.
BĀBĀJĪ: Goloka, Vṛndāvana and Śvetadvīpa are the inner compartments of Paravyoma, the spiritual sky. Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s svakīya-līlā takes place in Goloka. His parakīya-līlā takes place in Vṛndāvana, and its pariśiṣṭa (supplementary) līlā takes place in Śvetadvīpa. In tattva, there is no difference between these three dhāmas. Navadvīpa is really Śvetadvīpa, so it is non-different from Vṛndāvana. The residents of Navadvīpa are very fortunate, for they are associates of Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva. One can only attain residence of Navadvīpa after performing many pious activities. Some rasa is not manifested in Vṛndāvana, but that very rasa is manifest in Navadvīpa as the supplement of Vṛndāvana rasa. One experiences that rasa only when one becomes competent to relish it.
VRAJANĀTHA: Are the pastimes of Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva a work of svarūpa- śakti?
BĀBĀJĪ: Śrī Gaura’s pastimes are arranged by the same śakti who arranges Śrī Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes. There is no difference between Śrī Kṛṣṇa and Gaurāṅgadeva. Śrī Svarūpa Gosvāmī says:
rādhā-kṛṣṇa-praṇaya-vikṛtir hlādinī śaktir asmād
ekātmānāv api bhuvi purā deha-bhedaṁ gatau tau
caitanyākhyaṁ prakaṭam adhunā tad-dvayaṁ caikyam āptaṁ
rādhā-bhāva-dyuti-suvalitaṁ naumi kṛṣṇa-svarūpam
Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Ādi-līlā 1.5)
Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa are intrinsically one. However, They are manifest eternally in two forms through the influence of hlādinī-śakti in the form of Their pranaya-vikara, because of the eternality of Their pastimes (vilāsa-tattva). Now these two tattvas are manifested in one svarūpa in the form of caitanya-tattva. Therefore, I bow down to this svarūpa of Kṛṣṇa that is endowed with the loving sentiments and luster of Śrīmatī Rādhikā.
Kṛṣṇa and Caitanya Mahāprabhu are both eternally manifest. It cannot be determined which of Them came earlier and who came later. “First Caitanya was there, and then Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa manifested, and now They have merged together again, and appeared in the form of Caitanyadeva” – the understanding of this statement is not that one of Them existed earlier, and the other appeared later. Both manifestations are eternal; They are present for all time, and will exist for all time. All the pastimes of the Supreme Truth are eternal. those who think that one of these pastimes is principal and the other is secondary are ignorant of the truth and devoid of rasa.
VRAJANĀTHA: If Śrī Gaurāṅgadeva is directly the complete plenary truth, what then is the process for His worship?
BĀBĀJĪ: Worshiping Gaura by CHANTING GAURA-NĀMA-MANTRA awards the SAME BENEFIT as worshiping Kṛṣṇa by chanting His holy names in KṚṢṆA-NĀMA-MANTRA. Worshiping Gaura through the Kṛṣṇa mantra is the same as worshiping Kṛṣṇa by the Gaura mantra. Those who believe that there is a difference between Gaura and Kṛṣṇa are extremely foolish; they are simply servants of Kali.
VRAJANĀTHA: Where can one find the MANTRA OF THE HIDDEN AVATĀRA Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu?
BĀBĀJĪ: The tantras which contain the mantras of the manifest avatāras ALSO CONTAIN THE MANTRA OF THE HIDDEN AVATĀRA IN A SECRET WAY. Those whose intelligence is not crooked can understand it.
BĀBĀJĪ: Śrī Gaurāṅga’s Yugala is formed in one way in the ARCANA process, and another way in the BHAJANA PROCESS. Śrī Gaura-Viṣṇupriyā are worshiped in the process of arcana, and in the process of bhajana, one performs seva to Śrī Gaura-Gadādhara.
VRAJANĀTHA: Which śakti of Śrī Gaurāṅga is Śrī Viṣṇupriyā?
BĀBĀJĪ: The bhaktas generally refer to her as bhū-śakti. However, in reality she is the saṁvit potency combined with the essence of hlādinī. In other words, she is the personified form of bhakti, who has descended to assist Gaura Avatāra in the work of spreading śrī-nāma. Just as Navadvīpa-dhāma is the personified form (svarūpa) of the nine-fold process of devotional service (navadhā- bhakti) so Śrī Viṣṇupriyā is also the svarūpa of navadhā-bhakti.
VRAJANĀTHA: So can Viṣṇupriyā-devī be called svarūpa-śakti?
BĀBĀJĪ: How can there be any doubt about this? Is the combination of saṁvit-śakti and the essence of hlādinī-śakti anything but svarūpa-śakti?
VRAJANĀTHA: Prabhujī, I will soon learn to worship Śrī Gaura…
[From Jaiva Dharma, chapter 14]
translation by HH Narayana Maharaja