Giriraj Swami was born Glenn Phillip Teton, the only son of a respected Chicago lawyer. In March of 1969, while studying at Brandeis University in Boston, he met His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder-acarya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, 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. He was then given the opportunity to go to India with Srila Prabhupada and helped establish his mission there.
In 1972, after Giriraj had toured India with Srila Prabhupada, Prabhupada appointed him president of ISKCON Bombay and trustee of the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. Since then, he has made many significant contributions to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, 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 more recently 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 Swami has become known for the austerities he has accepted, for his loyalty and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, and for his ability to raise funds and cultivate important members of society.
In the year following Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, Giriraj das 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 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 Krishna and helping to develop Srila Prabhupada’s mission. He has also taught at the Vaisnava Institute for Higher Education in Vrndavana and now gives presentations at japa retreats and workshops for the Bhagavat Life educational foundation.
Although for the past ten years health considerations have limited his international travels, Giriraj Swami has taken this as an opportunity to focus more on one of Srila Prabhupada’s personal instructions: to write. Now based in Southern California, he is 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.