King Nabhi understood that his son, Ṛṣabhadeva, was very popular among the citizens and among government officers and ministers. Understanding the popularity of his son, Maharaja Nabhi enthroned Him as the emperor of the world to give protection to the general populace in terms of the Vedic religious system. To do this, he entrusted Him into the hands of learned brahmanas, who would guide Him in administrating the government. Then Maharaja Nabhi and his wife, Merudevi, went to Badarikasrama in the Himalaya Mountains, where the King engaged Himself very expertly in austerities and penances with great jubilation. In full samādhi he worshiped the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Nara-Narayana, who is Krishna in His plenary expansion. By doing so, in course of time Maharaja Nabhi was elevated to the spiritual world known as Vaikuntam.
When Maharaja Nabhi saw that his son Rshabhadeva was popular with the general populace and the governmental servants, he chose to install Him on the imperial throne. In addition, he wanted to entrust his son into the hands of the learned brahmanas. This means that a monarch was supposed to govern strictly according to Vedic principles under the guidance of learned brahmanas, who could advise Him according to the standard Vedic scriptures like Manu-smrti and similar sastras. It is the duty of the king to rule the citizens according to Vedic principles. According to Vedic principles, society is divided into four categories—brahmana, kshatriya, vaisya and sudra. Catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah [Bg. 4.13].
After dividing society in this way, it is the king’s duty to see that everyone executes Vedic principles according to his caste. A brahmana must perform the duty of a brahmana without cheating the public. It is not that one attains the name of a brahmana without the qualifications. It is the king’s duty to see that everyone engages in his occupational duty according to Vedic principles. In addition, retirement at the end of life is compulsory. Maharaja Nabhi, although still a king. retired from family life and went with his wife to a place called Badarikasrama in the Himalayas, where the Deity Nara-Narayaṇa is worshiped. The words prasanna-nipuṇena tapasa indicate that the King accepted all kinds of austerity very expertly and jubilantly. He did not at all mind leaving his comfortable life at home, although he was the emperor. Despite undergoing severe austerities and penances, he felt very pleased at Badarikasrama, and he did everything there expertly. In this way, being fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness (samadhi-yoga). always thinking of Krishna, Vasudeva, Maharaja Nabhi attained success at the end of his life and was promoted to the spiritual world, Vaikuntalokam.
This is the way of Vedic life. One must stop the process of repeated birth and death and return home, back to Godhead. The words tan-mahimanam avapa are significant in this regard. Sri Sridhara Swami says that mahima means liberation in this life. We should act in such a way in this life that after giving up this body, we will become liberated from the bondage of repeated birth and death. This is called jivan-mukti. Sri Viraraghava Ācharya states that in the Chandogya Upaniṣad there are eight symptoms of a jivan-mukta, a person who is already liberated even when living in this body. The first symptom of one so liberated is that he is freed from all sinful activity (apahata-papa). As long as one is under the clutches of maya in the material energy, one has to engage in sinful activity. Bhagavad-gita describes such people as dushkrtinah, which indicates that they are always engaged in sinful activity. One who is liberated in this life does not commit any sinful activities. Sinful activity involves illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling.
Another symptom of a liberated person is vijara, which indicates that he is not subjected to the miseries of old age. Another symptom is vimrtyu. A liberated person prepares himself in such a way that he does not take on any more material bodies, which are destined to die. In other words. he does not fall down again to repeat birth and death. Another symptom is visoka, which indicates that he is callous to material distress and happiness. Another is vijighatsa, which indicates that he no longer desires material enjoyment. Another symptom is apipata, which means that he has no desire other than to engage in the devotional service of Krshna, his dearmost pursuable Lord. A further symptom is satya-kama, which indicates that all his desires are directed to the Supreme Truth, Krshna. He does not want anything else. He is satya-sankalpa. Whatever he desires is fulfilled by the grace of Krshna. First of all, he does not desire anything for his material benefit, and secondly if he desires anything at all, he simply desires to serve the Supreme Lord. That desire is fulfilled by the Lord’s grace. That is called satya-sankalpa. Sri Visvanatha Cakravarti points out that the word mahima means returning to the spiritual world, back home, back to Vaikuntam. Sri Sukadeva says that the word mahima means that the devotee attains the qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called sadharma, or “the same quality.” Just as Krishna is never born and never dies, His devotees who return to Godhead never die and never take birth within the material world.