Being an incarnation of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Ṛṣabhadeva had nothing to do with material affairs. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā, paritrāṇāya sādhūnāṁ vināśāya ca duṣkṛtām: (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. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that in order to preach, one must live a practical life and show people how to do things. Āpani ācari' bhakti śikhāimu sabāre. One cannot teach others unless he behaves the same way himself. Ṛṣabhadeva was an ideal king, and He took His education in the gurukula, although He was already educated because the Supreme Lord is omniscient. Although Ṛṣabhadeva 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—śruti and smṛti. In his Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (1.2.101) Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī, quoting the Skanda Purāṇa, states:
- pañcarātra-vidhiṁ vinā
- aikāntikī harer bhaktir
- utpātāyaiva kalpate
- [Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.101]
Human society must follow the instructions received from śruti and smṛti, Vedic literature. Practically applied in life this is worship of the Supreme Personality of Godhead according to the pāñcarātrika-vidhi. Every human being must advance his spiritual life and at the end return home, back to Godhead. Mahārāja Ṛṣabhadeva 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.