Wednesday, August 24, 2011

OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya

There's a chant that I've been leading in class lately, which is the Sanskrit mantra that is given to all Kripalu teachers: OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.

Translations of this mantra are rich and varied, due to the nature of Sanskrit, which is a vibrational language that has many layers of meaning. Some yogis, when given a mantra by their teacher, are never told the meaning of the words. Rather, they are invited to chant it until they feel its transformational power, and find out experientially what it "means."

Russill Paul, in his book The Yoga of Sound, writes:

When we use Sanskrit mantras, our normal perception of the world dissolves and we awaken to the spiritual fields of energy represented by the sounds. Sanskrit, as a spiritual language, has been accurately and uninterruptedly transmitted for at least four thousand years. The resonance of these sounds uttered by millions of people who have been awakened to spiritual reality assists us in our own use of the language. In other words, we draw from the power of numbers when we use Sanskrit; we connect our soul to numerous yogis and spiritual teachers who have employed this language in their own self-transformation.

Back when the Kripalu Center was an ashram, and the building in Lenox, MA was purchased, the OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya mantra was chanted ceaselessly as they were renovating the building. As hundreds of bricks were being set into the interior wall of the main chapel, a repetition of the mantra was chanted for each brick that was laid. Now, when I sit in that magnificent chapel, I can feel the power of OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya resonating energetically in that space.

During my teacher training, I received a set of mala beads, given to me in a ceremony by my teachers, who encouraged me to chant the mantra as often as possible. It felt like an intitiation for me, and I recall being brought to tears as I was invited into a lineage of yogis who have chanted this mantra for many centuries.

I am still exploring and opening to its layers of meaning. Sometimes I chant it and feel connected and in Love. Other days I chant it and I feel bored and tired of it, and can't wait to get to the end of the mala. I enjoy singing it and putting it to different melodies, or repeating it silently while doing alternate nostril breathing. Sometimes I love the rhythm of it, while other times it seems achingly long. It's a lot like being in relationship, with its times of sweetness and times of struggle.

Although knowing the meaning of a mantra is not necessary, it can be helpful in deeping into the experience of chanting when we bring intention to the practice.  Here are a just a few interpretations of OM Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya:

I bow to the Lord who lives in the hearts of all

OM and salutations to the Indwelling One, substance of the Divine

O my Lord, the all-pervading Personality of the Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.

Salutations to the Indweller who is omnipresent, omnipotent, immortal and divine.

And, Swami Kripalu said it the most simple and succinct way:

Thy will be done.

Swami Kripalu.   

Some beautiful and uplifting musical versions of this mantra can be heard by Krishna Das, Deva Premal, Wah, Robert Gass, and many others. Put it in the iTunes search engine, and you'll find a treasure trove.



Anonymous said...

Great mantra, Jay Bhagwan

Vlad said...

Supremely resonating truth and beauty . Thank you great masters for this gift . I feel blessed to chant this mantra and really feel my heart open to the Realm .

Anonymous said...

I have just begun experiencing this mantra, and I was drawn to it tonight because of turmoil in my heart and mind. I am ignorant of almost everything around mantras, but I know this particular one was and is important for me to practice. "Thy will be done" is something that I hear and strive for in another are of my life and it fills my heart with gratitude to see these words on this page that I found randomly on the Internet. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

From what I have come to experience with this mantra it seems to bring peace and assurance to my heart. The theme of gratitude is bountiful with this mantra as well.

Unknown said...

I just graduated from Kripalu last Friday and this chant has special meaning to me. Jai Bhagwan

Anonymous said...

I sang this once sitting by a stream in the middle of a forest, and animals began moving toward me, birds filling the trees, small animals coming close. I didn't even know the meaning, I just knew it opened my heart. Now I sing it to the horses in the field down the street, and they come and stand and listen, sharing the one heart together.

Unknown said...

Just discovering mantras. I love Deva Premal's version.

Unknown said...

Just discovering mantras. I love Deva Premal's version and my cat is curious about it when I sing it.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paula M. said...

Absolutely the most moving of the mantras I've experienced so far. Like Lisa (post above), we chanted this during our graduation ceremony from Kripalu's Yoga Teacher Training... it's always in my heart!

dani said...


Me said...

When a song or tune sounds familiar I know its from God. For its a song we have heard before were born. It's from home. Thats what I believe❤

Anonymous said...

Great effort and good sharing, this will be helpful to everyone in the industry

Unknown said...

Sweet blessings. This is beautiful. Appreciate the share.


Poetry, readings & words of wisdom from modern and ancient sources