Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura Prabhupada was, in addition to being a dear devotee of Lord Krishna, a living encyclopedia for his vast knowledge of the Vedic scriptures. Thus thousands and millions that flocked to hear him were able to have their doubts dispelled as to the true conceptions of the Absolute Truth. Śrīla A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, founder-ācārya of ISKCON, summed up the teachings of his spiritual master in a poem he wrote for his Vyāsa-pūjā: “Absolute is sentient Thou hast proved/ Impersonal calamity Thou hast moved/ This gives us a life/ Anew and fresh.”
Śrīla Sarasvatī Ṭhākura was a tireless speaker and writer, and he never stopped teaching the precepts of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu until the time of his passing in 1937. His speeches were not recorded mainly because his disciples, being eager to listen, didn’t draw their attention away to jot down notes. However, one magnanimous devotee and one of Śrīla Sarasvatī Prabhupāda’s dearest disciples, Śrīpāda Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda Prabhu, sacrificed his own spiritual ecstasies to compile a number of his guru’s lectures and conversations and make them into books. The lectures in this book were originally taken down in shorthand by Śrīpāda Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda Prabhu as he sat at the feet of his divine master. What a gift he has given us!
This book, Vaktṛtāvalī, consists of forty-three lectures presented in three sections. These are not essays written by disciples but Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda’s handwritten capturing of the lectures as they were given. The majority of them have appeared in the Gauḍīya, the official mouthpiece of the Gauḍīya Mission established by Śrīla Sarasvatī Prabhupāda. Śrīpāda Sundarānanda Vidyāvinoda was its chief editor.
People often think Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī’s words difficult to understand and shy away from reading them. However, a real seeker of the Absolute Truth will not limit him or herself because the language is difficult. And we know that even those who are illiterate can be blessed by such hearing.