Giriraj Swami with Srila Prabhupada in 1971.
Giriraj Swami was born Glenn Phillip Teton in the home of
a respected Chicago lawyer. He met His Divine Grace A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder-acarya of the
International Society for Krishna Consciousness, in March
of 1969, while studying at Brandeis University in Boston,
and considered that he learned more from Srila Prabhupada
in five minutes than he had learned in his twenty years
of academic education. After graduating from Brandeis cum
laude, Glenn took formal initiation from Srila Prabhupada
and was given the spiritual name “Giriraj Das.” Giriraj
quickly became a leading member of the Boston center and
then was given the opportunity to go to India with Srila
Prabhupada, to help him establish his mission there.
In 1972, after Giriraj had toured India with Srila
Prabhupada, Prabhupada appointed him President of ISKCON
Bombay as well as a trustee of the Bhaktivedanta Book
Trust. Since then, he has made many significant
contributions to Srila Prabhupada’s movement, most
notably overseeing all aspects of the development of Hare
Krishna Land in Juhu, Bombay. He was instrumental in the
development of the Bhaktivedanta Ashram in Govardhana and
has led the development of the Kirtan Ashram for
renounced women, the Bhaktivedanta Hospice, and the
Vrindavan Institute of Palliative Care, all in Vrndavana,
India. Through all his efforts, Giriraj has become
renowned for the austerities he has accepted and for his
loyalty and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, as
well as for his ability to raise funds and cultivate
important members of society.
Giriraj Swami in the Bombay temple.
Giriraj Swami writing in California.
After Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, Giriraj was
awarded the renounced order of life and appointed
president of ISKCON’s board of trustees in India. In 1982
he was made a member of the ISKCON’s Governing Body
Commission, the ultimate managing authority for the
movement, and went on to oversee the Society’s activities
in Bombay, Mauritius, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Sri
Lanka, and Pakistan.
Giriraj Swami has toured extensively throughout India and
many other countries, carrying knowledge of Krsna and
helping to develop Srila Prabhupada’s mission. He has
also taught at the Vaisnava Institute for Higher
Education in Vrindavana and now gives presentations at
japa retreats and workshops for the Bhagavat Life
educational foundation. Although health considerations have recently limited his
traveling, Giriraj Swami has taken this as an opportunity
to focus on one of Srila Prabhupada’s personal
instructions: to write. Now based in Southern California,
he is the author of Watering the Seed (Mountain King
Books, 2000) and a frequent contributor to Back to
Godhead magazine, and is working on several publications,
including books about his search for a spiritual master
and his early days in the Boston temple, his travels with
Srila Prabhupada in India from 1970 to 1972, and Srila
Prabhupada’s monumental efforts in Bombay.