In the attitude of the denizens of Vṛndāvana, such as Nanda Mahārāj and Mother Yaśodā, is to be found the ideal transcendental concept of becoming the father and mother of Kṛṣṇa, the original Personality of Godhead. Factually, no one can become the father or mother of Kṛṣṇa; but a devotee's possession of such transcendental feelings is called love of Kṛṣṇa in parental relationship. The Vṛṣṇis (Kṛṣṇa's relatives at Dvārakā) also felt like that. So spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa in the parental relationship is found both amongst those denizens of Dvārakā who belonged to the dynasty of Vṛṣṇi, as well as amongst the inhabitants of Vṛndāvana.
Spontaneous love of Kṛṣṇa as exhibited by the Vṛṣṇis and the denizens of Vṛndāvana is eternally existing in them. In the stage of devotional service where regulative principles are followed, there is no necessity of discussing this love, for it must develop of itself at a more advanced stage.
Persons desiring to follow in the footsteps of such eternal devotees of the Lord as the Vṛṣṇis and Vṛndāvana denizens are called rāgānugā devotees, which means that they are trying to attain to the perfection of those devotees. These rāgānugā devotees do not follow the regulative principles of devotional service very strictly, but by spontaneous nature they become attracted to some of the eternal devotees such as Nanda or Yaśodā, and they try to follow in their footsteps spontaneously. There is a gradual development of the ambition to become like a particular devotee, and this activity is called rāgānugā.
We must always remember, however, that such eagerness to follow in the footsteps of the denizens of Braja (Vṛndāvana) is not possible unless one is freed from material contamination. In following the regulative principles of devotional service, there is a stage which is called anartha-nivṛtti, which means the disappearance of all material contamination. Sometimes it is found that someone is imitating such devotional love, but factually he is not freed from anarthas, or unwanted habits. It has been seen that a so-called devotee proclaims himself a follower of Nanda, Yaśodā or the gopīs, while at the same time his abominable attraction for mundane sex life is visible. Such a manifestation of divine love is mere imitation and has no value. When one is actually spontaneously attracted to the loving principles of the gopīs, there will be found no trace of any mundane contamination in his character.
Therefore, in the beginning, everyone should strictly follow the regulative principles of devotional service, according to the injunctions of the scriptures and the spiritual master. Only after the stage of liberation from material contamination can one actually aspire to follow in the footsteps of the devotees in Vṛndāvana.