“While Vasudeva was carrying his son Krishna in the falling rain, Lord Shesha in the shape of a serpent spread His hood over the head of Vasudeva so that he would not be hampered by the rainfall. Vasudeva came onto the bank of the Yamuna and saw that the water of the Yamuna was roaring with waves and that the whole span was full of foam. Still, in that furious feature, the river gave passage to Vasudeva to cross, just as the great Indian Ocean gave a path to Lord Rama when He was bridging over the gulf.” (Krishna, The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vol 1, Ch 3)
1. The god of the life of all beings
The familiar chant is “om namo bhagavate vasudevaya.” As per tradition, devotees repeat this mantra prior to discussing verses from sacred texts like Shrimad Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. Shastra, or scripture, is the mother of the dvija, who is twice-born.
Every person has the first birth. The mother and the father, but the human being has the unique opportunity to be born again. This second birth is more significant; it really gives life to an individual. Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that a person who is glorifying the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan, is actually living. They feel alive throughout the day and night, from young adulthood to old age.
Bhagavate refers to Bhagavan, who is God the person. Om is the sound vibration representation of the Absolute. Find that which lasts beyond the temporary world. That which was here before and will remain afterwards. A single energy which defines everything. Om is one way to understand, and the sound produced brings auspiciousness.
Namo is for namaskara, which is offering obeisances. Preceded by the transcendental sound vibration of the Absolute, I offer obeisances to Bhagavan, which is the more defined term for the same Absolute. He is both impersonal and personal, and this dichotomy is only from my perspective. He is always above any dualities of unseen and seen and without qualities and with features.
Vasudevaya refers to the deva of vasu. Vasu is the life of all beings, and deva is a god. In other words, Bhagavan is the god of what defines a being. He is above the spiritual energy as a collective. He is the source of all energies, in fact.
2. The son of Vasudeva
The Supreme Lord is so kind that He provides real-life examples to help explain these higher concepts. We need not understand the intricate details of soul and matter, light and darkness, and time and energy through philosophy alone. Simply look to the pastimes of Shri Krishna, who appeared in this world in the town of Mathura while His parents were in a prison cell.
Bhagavan appeared as the son of Vasudeva; hence Vasudevaya also refers to God as the son of that father. The meaning is actually identical. Krishna is the god of the life of all beings. He is the reason for living for Vasudeva and his wife Devaki.
We immediately see the amazing impact Krishna has on someone’s life, through the fateful journey of Vasudeva across the Yamuna River. This would otherwise be impossible. How to escape from a prison? How to leave a closely guarded area unnoticed? How to pass a great distance while facing heavy rain and carrying an infant?
Bhagavan makes the impossible possible for His devotees. For this reason and more they blissfully chant om namo bhagavate vasudevaya and other mantras in glorification of Him, who is their sustenance through times of difficulty, who is their reason for continuing on.
The source of inspiration,
And Vasudeva’s determination.
The reason for success to be,
Vivid proof of God is He.
So the name always to chant,
Making possible what I can’t.
Putting all contradictions to rest,
Devoted to Him this life blessed.