After Nabhi Maharāja departed for Badarikasramam, the Supreme Lord, Rshabhadeva, understood that His kingdom was His field of activities. He therefore showed Himself as an example and taught the duties of a householder by first accepting brahmacarya under the direction of spiritual masters. He also went to live at the spiritual masters’ place, gurukula. After His education was finished, He gave gifts (guru-dakshina) to His spiritual masters and then accepted the life of a householder. He took a wife named Jayantī and begot one hundred sons who were as powerful and qualified as He Himself. His wife Jayantī had been offered to Him by Indra, the King of heaven. Rshabhadeva and Jayanti performed householder life in an exemplary way, carrying out ritualistic activities ordained by the sruti and smrti sastra.
Being an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Rshabhadeva had nothing to do with material affairs. As stated in Bhagavad-gita, paritranaya sadhunam vinisaya ca dushkrtam: [Bg. 4.8] the purpose of an incarnation is to liberate His devotees and to stop the demoniac activities of nondevotees. These are the two functions of the Supreme Lord when He incarnates. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has said that in order to preach, one must live a practical life and show people how to do things. Apani acari bhakti sikhaimu sabare. One cannot teach others unless he behaves the same way himself. Rshabhadeva was an ideal king, and He took His education in the gurukula, although He was already educated because the Supreme Lord is omniscient. Although Rshabhadeva had nothing to learn from gurukula, He went there just to teach the people in general how to take an education from the right source, from Vedic teachers. He then entered householder life and lived according to the principles of Vedic knowledge—sruti and smrti. In his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (1.2.10) Srīla Rupa Gosvami, quoting the Skanda Purana, states :
“Devotional service of the Lord that ignores the authorized Vedic literatures like the Upanishads, Puranas and Narada-pancaratra is simply an unnecessary disturbance in society.” Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.1011.2.101]
Human society must follow the instructions received from sruti and smrti, Vedic literature. Practically applied in life this is worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead according to the pancaratrika-vidhi. Every human being must advance his spiritual life and at the end return home, back to Godhead. Maharaja Rshabhadeva strictly followed all these principles. He remained an ideal gṛhastha and taught His sons how to become perfect in spiritual life. These are some examples of how He ruled the earth and completed His mission as an incarnation.