Karma, Bhakti, Yoga and Jnana do no mutually exclude each other. Karma Yoga leads to Bhakti Yoga which in its turn leads to Raja Yoga. Raja Yoga brings Jnana. Para Bhakti is Jnana only. Bhakti is not divorced from Jnana. On the contrary, Jnana intensifies Bhakti. Karma purifies the heart. Bhakti removes the tossing of the mind. Raja Yoga steadies the mind and destroys Sankalpas. Every Yoga is a fulfillment of the preceding one. Bhakti is the fulfillment of Karma. Yoga (i.e., Raja Yoga) of Bhakti is the fulfillment of Karma, and Jnana of all the preceding three.
The practice of Karma Yoga prepares the aspirant for the reception of knowledge of the Self. It makes him a proper Adhikari (aspirant) for the study of Vedanta. Ignorant people jumps at one to Jnana Yoga, without first having a preliminary training in Karma Yoga. That is the reason why they fail miserable to realise the Truth.
"Work for the sake of the work without any motive is all very well in words. But when it comes to the practical field, when one endeavours to put it into actual practice, he will have to encounter countless difficulties at every step."
A person's mind is saturated with many desires. He expects fruits for every action. But gradually he too can wean the mind from expectation of rewards. It is all a question of discipline of the mind. By and by his selfish nature will be destroyed. He will understand the glory of Nishkamya Karma Yoga. Then he will be able to do works without any motives, without expectation of fruits of action. Of course, it is a question of time. One must be patient and preserving.
One path does not exclude the other. The path of action is suitable for a man of Karmic tendency. The path of love is adapted for a man of emotional temperament. The path of Raja Yoga is fitted for a man of mystic temperament. The path of Vedanta or Jnana Yoga is suitable for a man of will or reason. Each path blends into the other. Ultimately all these paths converge and become one. It is very difficult to say where Raja Yoga ends and Jnana Yoga begins. All aspirants of different paths meet on a common platform or junction in the ling run.
Karma, love and Yoga are the means to an end. Jnana is the end. Just as rivers join the sea, so also Karma, love and Yoga join the ocean of Jnana.
Karma Yoga prepares the mind for the reception of light or knowledge. It expands the heart and breaks all barriers that stand in the way of unity or oneness. Bhakti and meditation are also Karmas. There cannot be Jnana without Yoga. The fruit of Bhakti is Janana. If you remove the hunger of man by giving food, it is only temporary physical help. It is removal of a physical want for three hours. Then the hunger manifests. The man remains in the same miserable state. Building of hospitals, rest-houses and choultries for the distribution of free food, distribution of clothes, etc., are not the highest kind of help. Miseries are nor eradicated. The world will continue to remain in a miserable state even if you build many millions of hospitals and feeding-places. Get Brahma Jnana or divine knowledge, and distribute this knowledge everywhere and remove the ignorance in men. The only will all kinds of miseries, tribulations and evils be completely eradicated.
That man who helps others really helps himself. This is another important point. This world does not want the help of anybody. There is one omnipotent Isvara who controls and guides this universe. He can immediately supply a thousant and one Tilaks, Newtons, Shakespeares, Napoleans, Valmikis and Yodhishthiras. When you serve a man, think God has given you an opportunity to improve, corret and mould yourself by service. Be grateful to that man who gave you a chance to serve.
People have various motives when they work. He who does selfless service without expectation of fruits of any kind becomes a powerful Yogi. A Karma Yogi knows the secret of work. He does not allow any energy to be unnecessarily frittered away. He conserves and regulates energy. He knows the science of self-restraint. He utilises the energy for good purposes that can bring maximum good to a great number of people.
"The Karma Yogi, having abandoned the fruit of action, obtains eternal peace or release which comes of wisdom, while, he who, being prompted by desire, is attached to them, becomes bound." Gita: Chapter V-12.