oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya
oṁ—O my Lord; namaḥ—my respectful obeisances unto You; bhagavate—unto the Personality of Godhead; vāsudevāya—unto Lord Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva.
O my Lord, the all-pervading Personality of Godhead, I offer my respectful obeisances unto You.
Vāsudevāya means "to Kṛṣṇa, the son of Vasudeva." Since by chanting the name of Kṛṣṇa, Vāsudeva, one can achieve all the good results of charity, austerity and penances, it is to be understood that by the chanting of this mantra, oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya, the author or the speaker or any one of the readers of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is offering respectful obeisances unto the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, the reservoir of all pleasure. In the First Canto of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the principles of creation are described, and thus the First Canto may be called "Creation."
Similarly, in the Second Canto, the post-creation cosmic manifestation is described. The different planetary systems are described in the Second Canto as different parts of the universal body of the Lord. For this reason, the Second Canto may be called "The Cosmic Manifestation." There are ten chapters in the Second Canto, and in these ten chapters the purpose of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam and the different symptoms of this purpose are narrated. The first chapter describes the glories of chanting, and it hints at the process by which the neophyte devotees may perform meditation on the universal form of the Lord. In the first verse, Śukadeva Gosvāmī replies to the questions of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, who asked him about one's duties at the point of death. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was glad to receive Śukadeva Gosvāmī, and he was proud of being a descendant of Arjuna, the intimate friend of Kṛṣṇa. Personally, he was very humble and meek, but he expressed his gladness that Lord Kṛṣṇa was very kind to his grandfathers, the sons of Pāṇḍu, especially his own grandfather, Arjuna. And because Lord Kṛṣṇa was always pleased with Mahārāja Parīkṣit's family, at the verge of Mahārāja Parīkṣit's death Śukadeva Gosvāmī was sent to help him in the process of self-realization. Mahārāja Parīkṣit was a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa from his childhood, so he had natural affection for Kṛṣṇa. Śukadeva Gosvāmī could understand his devotion. Therefore, he welcomed the questions about the King's duty. Because the King hinted that worship of Lord Kṛṣṇa is the ultimate function of every living entity, Śukadeva Gosvāmī welcomed the suggestion and said, "Because you have raised questions about Kṛṣṇa, your question is most glorious." The translation of the first verse is as follows.
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