Srimad-Bhagavatam: Canto 4 - Chapter 1 - Verse 50


कर्माणि च यथाकालं यथादेशं यथाबलम् ।यथोचितं यथावित्तमकरोद्ब्रह्मसात्कृतम् ॥ ५० ॥


karmāṇi ca yathā-kālaṁyathā-deśaṁ yathā-balamyathocitaṁ yathā-vittamakarod brahma-sāt-kṛtam


Being self-satisfied, Mahārāja Pṛthu executed his duties as perfectly as possible according to the time and his situation, strength and financial position. His only aim in all his activities was to satisfy the Absolute Truth. In this way, he duly acted.


Mahārāja Pṛthu was a responsible monarch, and he had to execute the duties of a kṣatriya, a king and a devotee at the same time. Being perfect in the Lord’s devotional service, he could execute his prescribed duties with complete perfection as befitted the time and circumstance and his financial strength and personal ability. In this regard, the word karmāṇi in this verse is significant. Pṛthu Mahārāja’s activities were not ordinary, for they were in relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī has advised that things which are favorable to devotional service should not be rejected, nor should activity favorable for devotional service be considered ordinary work or fruitive activity. For example, an ordinary worker conducts business in order to earn money for his sense gratification. A devotee may perform the same work in exactly the same way, but his aim is to satisfy the Supreme Lord. Consequently his activities are not ordinary. Pṛthu Mahārāja’s activities were therefore not ordinary but were all spiritual and transcendental, for his aim was to satisfy the Lord. Just as Arjuna, who was a warrior, had to fight to satisfy Kṛṣṇa, Pṛthu Mahārāja performed his royal duties as king for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa. Indeed, whatever he did as emperor of the whole world was perfectly befitting a pure devotee. It is therefore said by a Vaiṣṇava poet, vaiṣṇavera kriyā-mudrā vijñe nā bujhāya: no one can understand the activities of a pure devotee. A pure devotee’s activities may appear like ordinary activities, but behind them there is profound significance — the satisfaction of the Lord. In order to understand the activities of a Vaiṣṇava, one has to become very expert. Mahārāja Pṛthu did not allow himself to function outside the institution of four varṇas and four āśramas, although as a Vaiṣṇava he was a paramahaṁsa, transcendental to all material activities. He remained in his position as a kṣatriya to rule the world and at the same time remained transcendental to such activities by satisfying the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Concealing himself as a pure devotee, he externally manifested himself as a very powerful and dutiful king. In other words, none of his activities were carried out for his own sense gratification; everything he did was meant for the satisfaction of the senses of the Lord. This is clearly explained in the next verse.