In the Tenth Canto, 87th Chapter, 19th verse, of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Vedas personified address the Lord in this way: "My dear Lord, yogīs meditate upon Your localized features, and thus they achieve the spiritual perfection of being merged in the impersonal brahma-jyoti. Persons who treat You as an enemy achieve the same perfection without meditating. The gopīs, who are embraced by Your serpentine hands and who have such lusty attitudes, also achieve the same perfection. And, as far as we are concerned, being different demigods in charge of the different parts of Vedic knowledge, we are always following in the footsteps of the gopīs. Thus we hope to attain the same perfection." By "the same perfection" we must always remember the example of the sun and the sunshine. Those who are impersonalists can merge into the sunshinelike brahma-jyoti, whereas those who are in love with the Supreme Person enter into the supreme abode of the Lord, Goloka Vṛndāvana.
The "lusty attitude" of the gopīs does not refer to any sort of sex indulgence. Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī explains that this "lusty desire" refers to the devotee's particular attitude of association with Kṛṣṇa. Every devotee in his perfectional stage has a spontaneous attraction to the Lord. This attraction is sometimes called the "lusty desire" of the devotee. The lust is the devotee's excessive desire to serve the Lord in a particular capacity. Such desire may seem to be a desire for enjoying the Lord, but actually the endeavor is to serve the Lord in that capacity. For example, a devotee may be desiring to associate with the Personality of Godhead as His cowherd friend. He will want to serve the Lord by assisting Him in controlling the cows in the pasturing ground. This may appear to be a desire to enjoy the company of the Lord, but actually it is spontaneous love, serving Him by assisting in managing the transcendental cows.
This extreme desire to serve the Lord is manifest in the transcendental land of Braja. And it is specifically manifested amongst the gopīs. The gopīs' love for Kṛṣṇa is so elevated that for our understanding it is sometimes explained as being "lusty desire."
The author of Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, Kavirāja Kṛṣṇadās, has explained the distinction between lusty desire and the service attitude in this statement: "Lusty desire refers to the desire to gratify one's personal senses, and transcendental desire refers to the desire for serving the senses of the Lord." In the material world there is no such thing as a lover wanting to please the senses of his beloved. Actually, in the material world, everyone wants mainly to gratify his own personal senses. The gopīs, however, wanted nothing at all but to gratify the senses of the Lord, and there is no instance of this in the material world. Therefore the gopīs' ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa is sometimes described by scholars as being like the "lusty desire" of the material world, but actually this should not be taken as a literal fact. It is simply a way of trying to understand the transcendental situation.
Great devotees up to the standard of Uddhava are very dear friends of the Lord, and they desire to follow in the footsteps of the gopīs. So the gopīs' love for Kṛṣṇa is certainly not material lusty desire. Otherwise, how could Uddhava aspire to follow in their footsteps? Another instance is Lord Caitanya Himself. After accepting the sannyāsa order of life, He was very, very strict about avoiding association with women, but still He taught that there is no better method of worshiping Kṛṣṇa than that conceived by the gopīs. Thus the gopīs' method of worshiping the Lord, as if impelled by lusty desire, was praised very highly even by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This very fact means that although the attraction of the gopīs for Kṛṣṇa appears to be lusty, it is not in the least bit material. Unless one is fully situated in the transcendental position, it is very difficult to understand the relationship of the gopīs with Kṛṣṇa. But because it appears to be just like ordinary dealings of young boys and girls, it is sometimes misinterpreted to be like the ordinary sex of this material world. Unfortunately, persons who cannot understand the transcendental nature of the love affairs of the gopīs and Kṛṣṇa take it for granted that Kṛṣṇa's love affairs with the gopīs are mundane transactions, and therefore they sometimes indulge in painting licentious pictures in some modernistic style.