vidita — known very well; anurāgam — popularity; āpaura-prakṛti — among all the citizens and government officers; jana-padaḥ — desiring to serve the people in general; rājā — the King; nābhiḥ — Nābhi; ātmajam — his son; samaya-setu-rakṣāyām — to protect the people strictly according to the Vedic principles of religious life; abhiṣicya — enthroning; brāhmaṇeṣu — to the learned brāhmaṇas; upanidhāya — entrusting; saha — with; merudevyā — his wife, Merudevī; viśālāyām — in Badarikāśrama; prasanna-nipuṇena — performed with great satisfaction and expertise; tapasā — by austerities and penances; samādhi-yogena — by full samādhi; nara-nārāyaṇa-ākhyam — named Nara-Nārāyaṇa; bhagavantam — the Supreme Personality of Godhead; vāsudevam — Kṛṣṇa; upāsīnaḥ — worshiping; kālena — in due course of time; tat-mahimānam — His glorious abode, the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭha; avāpa — achieved.
King Nābhi understood that his son, Ṛṣabhadeva, was very popular among the citizens and among government officers and ministers. Understanding the popularity of his son, Mahārāja Nābhi 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 brāhmaṇas, who would guide Him in administrating the government. Then Mahārāja Nābhi and his wife, Merudevī, went to Badarikāśrama in the Himālaya 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-Nārāyaṇa, who is Kṛṣṇa in His plenary expansion. By doing so, in course of time Mahārāja Nābhi was elevated to the spiritual world known as Vaikuṇṭha.
When Mahārāja Nābhi saw that his son Ṛṣabhadeva 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 brāhmaṇas. This means that a monarch was supposed to govern strictly according to Vedic principles under the guidance of learned brāhmaṇas, who could advise Him according to the standard Vedic scriptures like Manu-smṛti and similar śāstras. 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 — brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra. Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ. After dividing society in this way, it is the king’s duty to see that everyone executes Vedic principles according to his caste. A brāhmaṇa must perform the duty of a brāhmaṇa without cheating the public. It is not that one attains the name of a brāhmaṇa 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. Mahārāja Nābhi, although still a king, retired from family life and went with his wife to a place called Badarikāśrama in the Himālayas, where the Deity Nara-Nārāyaṇa is worshiped. The words prasanna-nipuṇena tapasā 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 Badarikāśrama, and he did everything there expertly. In this way, being fully absorbed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness (samādhi-yoga), always thinking of Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, Mahārāja Nābhi attained success at the end of his life and was promoted to the spiritual world, Vaikuṇṭhaloka.
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-mahimānam avāpa are significant in this regard. Śrīla Śrīdhara Svāmī says that mahimā 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 jīvan-mukti. Śrīla Vīrarāghava Ācārya states that in the Chāndogya Upaniṣad there are eight symptoms of a jīvan-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-pāpa). As long as one is under the clutches of māyā in the material energy, one has to engage in sinful activity. Bhagavad-gītā describes such people as duṣkṛtinaḥ, 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 vimṛtyu. 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 viśoka, 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 apipātā, which means that he has no desire other than to engage in the devotional service of Kṛṣṇa, his dearmost pursuable Lord. A further symptom is satya-kāma, which indicates that all his desires are directed to the Supreme Truth, Kṛṣṇa. He does not want anything else. He is satya-saṅkalpa. Whatever he desires is fulfilled by the grace of Kṛṣṇa. 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-saṅkalpa. Śrīla Viśvanātha Cakravartī points out that the word mahimā means returning to the spiritual world, back home, back to Vaikuṇṭha. Śrī Śukadeva says that the word mahimā means that the devotee attains the qualities of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is called sadharma, or “the same quality.” Just as Kṛṣṇa is never born and never dies, His devotees who return to Godhead never die and never take birth within the material world.