Preamble

Thus far Arjuna has been  taught the highest form of devotion, which leads to union with God in its  static aspect as also with His dynamic Prakriti. Krishna tells him that there  are also other forms of devotion which are at a lower level as they are  performed with various motives.

Four  kinds of virtuous people worship God. They are seekers of wealth, the  distressed, seekers of knowledge, and jnani or the wise. The first three  approach God only for gaining limited goals in the world. Distinct from these  three types of worshippers, the jnani stands out with his self-oblivious,  non-utilitarian worship. He has no desires for any worldly reward. His worship  is wholly directed to Self-Realization, to reach Brahman. Krishna expresses His  deep love and admiration for the Jnani. Whatever form the devotee worships, the ultimate goal is the Lord Himself. The  Lord accepts such worship, knowing that it is directed to Him only.

The deluded, having lost sight of the transcendental  Reality, entertain a variety of desires in this world. They seek and earn the  fruits of their desires. The Reality, personified as Lord Krishna (Vasudeva)  functions in every being as Atman. Atman enlivens all activities, be they  material or spiritual. Hence Krishna says that He supports all actions of individuals  pursuing their manifold desires.

Speaking as Brahman, the pure Consciousness, Krishna  declares that He knows the past, present and future. Living Beings, deluded by  the pairs of opposites which bind this world, do not recognize the underlying  Reality. The wise, striving for liberation, free themselves from this delusion  and reach the supreme Brahman. They realize the whole truth – the play of  Brahman, the individual soul and the world, jiva, jagat and jagadeesvara

The  Text

DIFFERENT KINDS OF DEVOTION

chaturvidhaa bhajante maam janaah  sukritino'rjuna
    aarto jijnaasurarthaarthee jnaanee cha  bharatarshabha // 7.16 //

Four  types of virtuous men worship Me, O Arjuna; the man in distress, the seekers of  knowledge, the seekers of enjoyment and those endowed with wisdom, O the best  among the Bharatas.

Prayer  is the effort of man to reach God. It assumes that there is an answering  Presence in the world to whom the prayer is addressed. Through the exercise of Prayer,  we kindle a light in our consciousness which shows up our pride, greed, fears  and hopes. It is a means to build up an integrated personality, a harmony of  the body, mind and Spirit.

The  previous verse stated that sinful men possessed of demonic nature do not  worship God. The question then who actually worships God is answered in this  verse.

The  Lord calls all the persons who offer prayers to Him as virtuous and classifies  them in the following four categories. They are virtuous because anyone seeking  the Lord, whatever is his motive, is a fortunate and righteous soul. 
•The distressed - They pray for fighting against and gaining total relief from the distress that is troubling them. 
•The seekers of knowledge – They pray for understanding the knowledge of the Self or the knowledge of God. 
•The seeker of enjoyment- They pray for satisfying their desires and attain enjoyment here and hereafter. 
•The Wise - They pray demanding nothing, expecting nothing. They carry with them as their offerings only themselves. They offer themselves in total surrender. Their only demand is that they should become one with The Lord. Their attitude is one of self-oblivious non-utilitarian worship of God for His own sake. He is the one who has renounced all desires born of maya.

It is also to be noted that not all people belonging  to the first three categories stated above worship the Lord; only those who are  fortunate among them take refuge in Him although they are desirous of rewards (phalakama).

teshaam jnaanee nityayukta eka  bhaktirvishishyate
    priyo hi jnaanino'tyarthamaham sa cha  mama priyah // 7.17 //

Of  them the wise man, ever in constant union with the Divine, whose devotion is  single minded, excels; for I am exceedingly dear to the wise and he is dear to  Me.

The  wise (Gnani) who with a single pointed mind surrenders himself to the Self with  an integrated devotion, which is not distracted by other compelling desires  represents the Best. The unbroken aspirations of the Seeker to reach his own  real nature of the Self are called single pointed devotion or steadfast mind - Ekabhakti.

Single  pointedness of the mind is possible only when one withdraws oneself totally  from all other extrovert demands of the lower nature in him. In the case of a  Gnani the spirit is invoked not for acquisition of any sensual enjoyments but  for elimination of all the self-destructive desires. Therefore, Sri Krishna who  is the personification of the Self says the wise are the best and the highest  in the category of those who invoke Him.

Such  a Gnani because of his selfless love is dear to The Lord and in turn He is dear  to him. The Lord is regarded as the very Self of the wise. So long as we are  seekers, we are still in the world of duality but when we have attained wisdom,  there is no duality. The sage unites himself with the One Self in all.