The story of the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya can be explained as follows. When Lord Rāmacandra was residing in Daṇḍakāraṇya, the sages who were engaged in devotional service there became attracted by His beauty and immediately thought of the gopīs at Vṛndāvana, who enjoyed conjugal loving affection with Kṛṣṇa. In this instance it is clear that the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya desired conjugal love in the manner of the gopīs, although they were well aware of the Supreme Lord as both Kṛṣṇa and Lord Rāmacandra. They knew that although Rāmacandra was an ideal king and could not accept more than one wife, Lord Kṛṣṇa, being the full-fledged Personality of Godhead, could fulfill the desires of all of them in Vṛndāvana. These sages also concluded that the form of Lord Kṛṣṇa is more attractive than that of Lord Rāmacandra, and so they prayed to become gopīs in their future lives to be associated with Kṛṣṇa.
Lord Rāmacandra remained silent, and His silence shows that He accepted the prayers of the sages. Thus they were blessed by Lord Rāmacandra to have association with Lord Kṛṣṇa in their future lives. As a result of this benediction, they all took birth as women in the wombs of gopīs at Gokula, and as they had desired in their previous lives, they enjoyed the company of Lord Kṛṣṇa, who was present at that time in Gokula Vṛndāvana. The perfection of their human form of life was thus achieved by their generating a transcendental sentiment to share conjugal love with Lord Kṛṣṇa.
Conjugal love is divided into two classifications—namely, conjugal love as husband and wife and conjugal love as lover and beloved. One who develops conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa as a wife is promoted to Dvārakā, where the devotee becomes the queen of the Lord. One who develops conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa as a lover is promoted to Goloka Vṛndāvana, to associate with the gopīs and enjoy loving affairs with Kṛṣṇa there. We should note carefully, however, that this conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa, either as gopī or as queen, is not limited only to women. Even men can develop such sentiments, as was evidenced by the sages of Daṇḍakāraṇya. If someone simply desires conjugal love, but does not follow in the footsteps of the gopīs, he is promoted to association with the Lord at Dvārakā.
In the Mahā-kūrma Purāṇa it is stated, "Great sages who were the sons of fire-gods rigidly followed the regulative principles in their desire to have conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa. As such, in their next lives they were able to associate with the Lord, the origin of all creation, who is known as Vāsudeva, or Kṛṣṇa, and all of them got Him as their husband."