This statement of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is significant. Nibhṛte vasiyā tāhāṅ kariba smaraṇa: “I shall sit down there in that solitary place and remember the lotus feet of the Lord.” Neophyte students are not to imitate sitting in a solitary place and remembering the lotus feet of the Lord by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. We should always remember that it was Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself who wanted such a place, either for Himself or Haridāsa Ṭhākura. No one can suddenly attain the level of Haridāsa Ṭhākura and sit down in a solitary place to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and remember the lotus feet of the Lord. Only an exalted person like Haridāsa Ṭhākura or Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, who is personally exhibiting the proper behavior for an ācārya, can engage in such a practice.
At the present moment we see that some of the members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are tending to leave their preaching activities in order to sit in a solitary place. This is not a very good sign. It is a fact that Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura has condemned this process for neophytes. He has even stated in a song, pratiṣṭhāra tare, nirjanera ghare, tava hari-nāma kevala kaitava: “Sitting in a solitary place intending to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra is considered a cheating process.” This practice is not possible for neophytes at all. The neophyte devotee must act and work very laboriously under the direction of the spiritual master, and he must thus preach the cult of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Only after maturing in devotion can he sit down in a solitary place to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Himself did. Although Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, to teach us a lesson He traveled all over India continuously for six years and only then retired at Jagannātha Purī. Even at Jagannātha Purī the Lord chanted the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra in great meetings at the Jagannātha temple. The point is that one should not try to imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura at the beginning of one’s transcendental life. One must first become very mature in devotion and thus receive the approval of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Only at such a time may one actually sit down peacefully in a solitary place to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and remember the lotus feet of the Lord. The senses are very strong, and if a neophyte devotee imitates Haridāsa Ṭhākura, his enemies (kāma, krodha, lobha, moha, mada and mātsarya) will disturb and fatigue him. Instead of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra, the neophyte will simply sleep soundly. Preaching work is meant for advanced devotees, and when an advanced devotee is further elevated on the devotional scale, he may retire to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra in a solitary place. However, if one simply imitates advanced spiritual life, he will fall down, just like the sahajiyās in Vṛndāvana.