tasyanaya bhagavatah parikarma-suddha-
jñanam viraktimad abhun nisitena yena
ciccheda samsaya-padam nija-jiva-kosam
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
By regularly discharging devotional service, Prthu Maharaja became transcendental in mind and could therefore constantly think of the lotus feet of the Lord. Because of this, he became completely detached and attained perfect knowledge by which he could transcend all doubt. Thus he was freed from the clutches of false ego and the material conception of life.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In the Narada-pañcaratra, devotional service to the Lord is likened unto a queen. When a queen gives an audience, many maidservants follow her. The maidservants of devotional service are material opulence, liberation and mystic powers. The karmis are very much attached to material enjoyment, the jñanis are very anxious to become freed from material clutches, and the yogis are very fond of attaining the eight kinds of mystic perfection. From the Narada-pañcaratra we understand that if one attains the stage of pure devotional service, he also attains all the opulences derived from fruitive activities, empiric philosophical speculation and mystic yogic practice. Srila Bilvamangala Thakura therefore prayed in his Krsna-karnamrta: “My dear Lord, if I have unflinching devotion to You, You become manifest before me personally, and the results of fruitive activity and empiric philosophical speculation — namely religion, economic development, sense gratification and liberation — become like personal attendants and remain standing before me as if awaiting my order.” The idea here is that the jñanis, by culture of brahma-vidya, spiritual knowledge, struggle very hard to get out of the clutches of material nature, but a devotee, by dint of his advancement in devotional service, automatically becomes detached from his material body. When the devotee’s spiritual body begins to manifest, he actually enters into his activities in transcendental life.
At present we have contacted a material body, material mind and material intelligence, but when we become free from these material conditions, our spiritual body, spiritual mind and spiritual intelligence become manifest. In that transcendental state, a devotee attains all the benefits of karma, jñana and yoga. Although he never engages in fruitive activities or empiric speculation to attain mystic powers, automatically mystic powers appear in his service. A devotee does not want any kind of material opulence, but such opulence appears before him automatically. He does not have to endeavor for it. Because of his devotional service, he automatically becomes brahma-bhuta. As stated before, this is confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo ’vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
“One who is engaged in full devotional service, unfailing in all circumstances, at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”
Because of his regular discharge of devotional service, a devotee attains the transcendental stage of life. Since his mind is transcendentally situated, he cannot think of anything but the lotus feet of the Lord. This is the meaning of the word samsmarana-anupurtya. By constantly thinking of the lotus feet of the Lord, the devotee immediately becomes situated in suddha-sattva. Suddha-sattva refers to that platform which is above the modes of material nature, including the mode of goodness. In the material world, the mode of goodness is considered to be representative of the highest perfection, but one has to transcend this mode and come to the stage of suddha-sattva, or pure goodness, where the three qualities of material nature cannot act.
Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakura gives the following example: If one has strong digestive power, after eating he automatically lights a fire within his stomach to digest everything and does not need to take medicine to aid his digestion. Similarly, the fire of devotional service is so strong that a devotee does not need to act separately to attain perfect knowledge or detachment from material attractions. A jñani may become detached from material attractions by prolonged discussions on subjects of knowledge and may in this way finally come to the brahma-bhuta stage, but a devotee does not have to undergo so much trouble. By virtue of his devotional service, he attains the brahma-bhuta stage without a doubt. The yogis and jñanis are always doubtful about their constitutional position; therefore they mistakenly think of becoming one with the Supreme. However, a devotee’s relationship with the Supreme becomes manifest beyond all doubt, and he immediately understands that his position is that of eternal servant of the Lord. Jñanis and yogis without devotion may think themselves liberated, but actually their intelligence is not as pure as that of a devotee. In other words, the jñanis and yogis cannot become factually liberated unless they become elevated to the position of devotees:
aruhya krcchrena param padam tatah
patanty adho ’nadrta-yusmad-anghrayah
The jñanis and yogis may rise to the highest position, Brahman realization, but because of their lack of devotion unto the lotus feet of the Lord, they again fall down into material nature. Therefore jñana and yoga should not be accepted as the real processes for liberation. By discharging devotional service, Maharaja Prthu automatically transcended all these positions. Since Maharaja Prthu was a saktyavesa incarnation of the Supreme Lord, he did not have to act in any way to attain liberation. He came from the Vaikuntha world, or spiritual sky, in order to execute the will of the Supreme Lord on earth. Consequently he was to return home, back to Godhead, without having to execute jñana, yoga or karma. Although Prthu Maharaja was eternally a pure devotee of the Lord, he nonetheless adopted the process of devotional service in order to teach the people in general the proper process for executing the duties of life and ultimately returning home, back to Godhead.