These four types of devotees have been described in the Seventh Chapter of the Bhagavad-gītā, and they have all been accepted as pious. Without becoming pious no one can come to devotional service. It is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā that only one who has continually executed pious activities and whose sinful reactions in life have completely stopped can take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Others cannot. The neophyte devotees are classified into four groups—the distressed, those in need of money, the inquisitive and the wise—according to their gradations of pious activities. Without pious activities, if a man is in a distressed condition he becomes an agnostic, communist or something like that. Because he does not firmly believe in God, he thinks that he can adjust his distressed condition by totally disbelieving in Him.
Lord Kṛṣṇa, however, has explained in the Gītā that out of these four types of neophytes, the one who is wise is very dear to Him because a wise man, if he is attached to Kṛṣṇa, is not seeking an exchange of material benefits. A wise man who becomes attached to Kṛṣṇa does not want any return from Him, neither in the form of relieving distress, nor in gaining money. This means that from the very beginning his basic principle of attachment to Kṛṣṇa is, more or less, love. Furthermore, due to his wisdom and study of śāstras (scriptures), he can understand also that Kṛṣṇa is the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
It is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that after many, many births, when one becomes actually wise, he surrenders unto Vāsudeva, knowing perfectly well that Kṛṣṇa (Vāsudeva) is the origin and cause of all causes. Therefore, he sticks to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa and gradually develops love for Him. Although such a wise man is very dear to Kṛṣṇa, the others are also accepted as very magnanimous because even though they are distressed or in need of money, they have come to Kṛṣṇa for satisfaction. Thus they are accepted as liberal, broad-minded mahātmās.
Without being elevated to the position of a jñānī, or wise man, no one can stick to the principle of worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Others who are less intelligent, or those whose intelligence has been taken away by the spell of māyā, are attached to different demigods, on account of the influence of the modes of nature. The wise man is he who has thoroughly understood that he is spirit soul and not simply a body. Because he realizes that he is spirit and that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme spirit, he knows that his intimate relationship should be with Kṛṣṇa, not with this body. The distressed and the man in want of money are in the material concept of life because distress and need of money are both in relationship with this body. One who is inquisitive may be a little above the distressed and the man in need of money, but still he is on the material platform. But a wise man who seeks Kṛṣṇa knows perfectly well that he is spirit soul, or Brahman, and that Kṛṣṇa is the supreme spirit soul, or Param-Brahman. He knows that the spirit soul, being subordinate and finite, should always dovetail himself with the infinite and supreme soul, Kṛṣṇa. That is the relationship of the wise man with Kṛṣṇa.
It can be concluded that a person who is freed from the bodily concept of life is an eligible candidate for pure devotional service. It is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gītā that after Brahman realization, when one is freed from material anxieties and can see every living entity on an equal level, he is eligible to enter into devotional service.