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 Rāmacandra was an ideal king and could not accept more than one wife; but 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 blest 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. Those who develop conjugal love for Kṛṣṇa as a lover are 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 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. Every one of them got Him as their husband."
Parenthood or Friendship
Devotees who are attracted to Kṛṣṇa as parents or as friends should follow in the footsteps of Nanda Mahārāj or Subala, respectively. Nanda Mahārāj is the foster father of Kṛṣṇa, and out of all of the friends of Kṛṣṇa, Subala is the most intimate in Brajabhūmi.
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 Mahārāj 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 Mahārāj, 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.