Devotees who are attracted to Kṛṣṇa as parents or as friends should follow in the footsteps of Nanda Mahārāja or Subala, respectively. Nanda Mahārāja is the foster father of Kṛṣṇa, and out of all of the friends of Kṛṣṇa, Subala is the most intimate in Vrajabhūmi.
In the development of becoming either the father or friend of the Lord, there are two varieties. One method is that one may try to become the father of the Lord directly, and the other is that one may follow Nanda Mahārāja and cherish the ideal of being Kṛṣṇa's father. Out of these two, the attempt to directly become the father of Kṛṣṇa is not recommended. Such a development can become polluted with Māyāvāda (impersonal) philosophy. The Māyāvādīs, or monists, think that they themselves are Kṛṣṇa, and if one thinks that he himself has become Nanda Mahārāja, then his parental love will become contaminated with the Māyāvāda philosophy. The Māyāvāda philosophical way of thinking is offensive, and no offender can enter into the kingdom of God to associate with Kṛṣṇa.
In the Skanda Purāṇa there is a story of an old man residing in Hastināpura, capital of the kingdom of the Pāṇḍus, who desired Kṛṣṇa as his beloved son. This old man was instructed by Nārada to follow in the footsteps of Nanda Mahārāja, and thus he achieved success.
There is a statement in the Nārāyaṇa-vyūha-stava prayers that persons who are always engaged in thinking of the Lord as their husband, friend, father or well-wisher are always worshipable by everyone. This spontaneous love for Kṛṣṇa can be developed only by the special mercy of Kṛṣṇa or His pure devotee. This process of devotional service is sometimes called puṣṭi-mārga. Puṣṭi means "nourishing," and mārga means "path." Such development of sentiment nourishes devotional service to the highest standard. Thus it is called the path of nourishment, or puṣṭi-mārga. The Vallabha-sampradāya, which belongs to the Viṣṇu Svāmī sect of Vaiṣṇava religion, worships Kṛṣṇa in this puṣṭi-mārga. Generally devotees in Gujarat worship Bāla Kṛṣṇa, under this heading of puṣṭi-mārga.