Karma, bhakti and jnana are shown to lead to God realisation. The Gita stresses the efficacy of bhakti while explaining the three paths and maintaining that these are not mutually exclusive, pointed out Swami Omkarananda in a lecture.
The Lord tells Arjuna that He is bound by true devotion and that a devotee who seeks Him for His sake alone is most dear to Him. But not all jivatmas are ready to qualify for that kind of superior and selfless devotion though the concept of having God in one’s consciousness in our daily life is embedded in our culture.
The tendency to bring God at the individual, family and social levels helps to build strength of mind and fearlessness. Usually people seek Him for fulfilment of their daily needs, aspirations and achievements in life, and this is popularly known as sadana bhakti or kamya bhakti.
The Lord says that He initially encourages this kind of devotion to build a bond between a jivatma and Him. He says whatever material benefits are sought from Him are granted but He waits for the jivatma to seek only Him.
In the long run, it is recognised that material gains at best can give only ephemeral joy and not peace of mind. In fact, all such gains only increase anxiety and sorrow. Spiritual progress in an individual is manifest when one realises that bhakti is not just seeking material gains from God through prayers and that the desire to serve God at all times is the ultimate goal one should aspire for.
Desires are the cause of the prominent feelings of like and dislike. When devotion to God becomes stronger, the pulls of worldly attractions weaken automatically and the devotee is no longer affected by base feelings. When the bhakta dedicates himself to God, he progresses in his quest for salvation.
Arjuna wonders aloud about the relative merits of the worship of the formless (nirguna) Brahman and of the manifested form that is accessible to all. To focus on the former is a harder task to the aspirant while the Lord stands revealed through untarnished bhakti that surrenders absolutely to Him.