Since he was born in a Muslim family, Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura could not enter the temple of Jagannātha due to temple restrictions. Nonetheless, he was recognized by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu as Nāmācārya Haridāsa Ṭhākura. Haridāsa Ṭhākura, however, considered himself unfit to enter the Jagannātha temple. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu could have personally taken Haridāsa Ṭhākura into the Jagannātha temple if He wished, but the Lord did not like to disturb a popular custom. Consequently the Lord asked His servant simply to look at the Viṣṇu wheel on top of the temple and offer obeisances (namaskāra). This means that if one is not allowed to enter the temple, or if he thinks himself unfit to enter the temple, he can look at the wheel from outside the temple, and that is as good as seeing the Deity within.
Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu promised to come daily to see Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura, and this indicates that Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was so advanced in spiritual life that, although considered unfit to enter the temple, he was being personally visited by the Lord every day. Nor was there any need for his going outside his residence to collect food. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu assured Haridāsa Ṭhākura that the remnants of His food would be sent there. As the Lord states in the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 9.22), yoga-kṣemaṁ vahāmy aham: “I arrange all life’s necessities for My devotees.” A reference is made here for those who are very anxious to imitate the behavior of Ṭhākura Haridāsa in an unnatural way. One must receive the order of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu or His representative before adopting such a way of life. The duty of a pure devotee or a servant of the Lord is to carry out the order of the Lord. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu asked Nityānanda Prabhu to go to Bengal and preach, and He asked the Gosvāmīs, Rūpa and Sanātana, to go to Vṛndāvana and excavate the lost places of pilgrimage. In this case the Lord asked Haridāsa Ṭhākura to remain there at Jagannātha Purī and constantly chant the holy names of the Lord. Thus Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu gave different persons different orders, and consequently one should not try to imitate the behavior of Haridāsa Ṭhākura without being ordered by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu or His representative. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura condemns such imitations in this way:
- duṣṭa mana! tumi kisera vaiṣṇava?
- pratiṣṭhāra tare, nirjanera ghare,
- tava hari-nāma kevala kaitava
“My dear mind, you are trying to imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura and chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in a secluded place, but you are not worth being called a Vaiṣṇava because what you want is cheap popularity and not the actual qualifications of Haridāsa Ṭhākura. If you try to imitate him you will fall down, for your neophyte position will cause you to think of women and money. Thus you will fall into the clutches of māyā, and your so-called chanting in a secluded place will bring about your downfall.”