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SB 1.3 - King Ṛṣabha

(8) King Ṛṣabha appeared as the son of King Nābhi and Merudevī. The Lord showed the path of perfection, which is followed by those who have fully controlled their senses and who are honored by all orders of life. The society of humans is naturally divided into eight by orders and statuses of life – the four divisions of occupation namely the intelligent class, the administrative class, the productive class and the laborer class, and the four divisions of cultural advancement namely the student life, the householder’s life, the retired life and renounced life. Out of these the sannyāsa order is considered the highest of all, and a sannyāsī is the guru of all orders and divisions of life. There are four stages of sannyāsa also – kuṭīcaka, bahūdaka, parivrājakācārya and paramahaṁsa. The paramahaṁsa stage of life is the highest stage of perfection and this was revealed by Ṛṣabha, who was white in complexion.

The Lord as Ṛṣabha instructed His sons to follow the path of perfection by tapasya, which sanctifies one’s existence and enable one to attain spiritual happiness. Foolish men seek after material sense pleasure as a substitute for real happiness, but all animals and beasts also enjoy such sense pleasure. The human form of life is meant for attaining eternal and unlimited happiness by spiritual realization. Those who have been trained for abstinence in material pleasures are called dhīra, or men undisturbed by senses. Only these dhīras can accept the orders of sannyāsa, and gradually rise to the status of paramahaṁsa, which is adored by all members of the society.