chaturvidhaa bhajante maam janaaha sukritinorjuna |
aarto jignyaasurarthaarthee jnyaanee cha bharatarshabha || 16 ||

Four types of people who perform good actions worship me, O Arjuna – the distressed, the inquisitive, the profit-minded and the wise, O scion of the Bharataas.
chaturvidhaaha : four types
bhajante : worship
maam : me
janaaha : people
sukritinaha : who perform good actions
arjuna : O Arjuna
aartaha : those who are in distress
jignyaasuhi : the inquisitive
arthaarthee : profit-minded
jnyaanee : wise
cha : and
bharatarshabha : O scion of the Bharataas
Shri Krishna is a methodical teacher. He loves to categorize and classify knowledge. In the previous shloka, he defined people who are blinded by maaya as “dushkritinaha” – those who commit wrong or evil actions. Such people cannot contact Ishvara. In this shloka, he adds the second category of people – those who perform good actions, “sukritinaha”. He then further classifies these devotees of Ishvara into four types.
The first type of devotee is the “aarta” or the distressed. When such devotees are in trouble, when they have a health condition, when they have a monetary problem, when they are anxious about the result of the final exam, when there is nowhere else to go, they approach Ishvara for help. Usually, such devotees would not have remembered Ishvara if they were well off, if they had no source of affliction. Regardless, Ishvara accepts them as his devotees.
The second type of devotee is the “jignyaasu” or the inquisitive. Such people are seeking knowledge in all of its various aspects: economic knowledge, scientific knowledge, artistic knowledge and even spiritual knowledge. They worship Saraswati as the goddess of knowledge.
The third type of devotee is the “arthaarthee”. Many commentators interpret this word as one who is desirous of “artha”, which is profit or material gains. However, if we assume that the four types of devotees are arranged in order of importance, then “artha” could mean “purushaartha” which comprises dharma, artha, kaama (desire) and moksha (liberation). In other words, such a devotee has realized that he needs to use all his time and resources on this world to attain liberation.
Finally, the fourth type of devotee is the “jnyaani” or the wise one. He is the one who realized that there is nothing other than god. He sees god in everything. Therefore, he does not want god for some other purpose. He wants god and nothing else. There are no other desires or ulterior motives in such a devotee.
Are all four devotees alike? Or is there one in particular that Shri Krishna prefers?