Giriraja Swami was born Glenn Phillip Teton, the only son of a respected Chicago lawyer, who was later appointed a judge. In March of 1969, while studying at Brandeis University in Boston, he met His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, from whom, he felt, he had learned more in one brief exchange than he had in his many years of academic education. After graduating from Brandeis cum laude, he accepted formal initiation from Srila Prabhupada and received the spiritual name Giriraja Dasa. Giriraja quickly became a leading member of the Boston center and was soon given the opportunity to go to India with Srila Prabhupada, where he helped establish ISKCON.
In 1972, Prabhupada appointed Giriraja 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, Mumbai. He was instrumental in the acquisition and development of the Bhaktivedanta Ashram in Govardhan and led the development of Kirtan Ashram for women, the Bhaktivedanta Hospice, and the Vrindavan Institute of Palliative Care, all in Vrindavan. Through his efforts, Giriraja Swami has become renowned for the austerities he has accepted, his loyalty and dedication to Srila Prabhupada’s mission, his ability to raise funds and cultivate important members of society, and his care for devotees around the world.
In the year following Srila Prabhupada’s departure in 1977, Giriraja was awarded the renounced order of life and appointed president of ISKCON’s board of trustees in India. In 1982 he was appointed to ISKCON’s Governing Body Commission, and he went on to oversee the Society’s activities in Mumbai, Mauritius, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.
Giriraja Swami has also taught at the Vrindavan Institute for Higher Education and continues to lecture and give presentations at japa retreats and workshops around the world. Presently based in Carpinteria, California, Giriraja Swami is now focusing on one of the main personal instructions he received from Srila Prabhupada – his writing. He is author of Watering the Seed and Many Moons, and is working on several other publications, including a book about death and dying in the Vedic tradition, his search for a spiritual master, and his early days in the Boston temple, his travels with Srila Prabhupada in India, and Srila Prabhupada’s monumental efforts in Bombay, and on Vaishnava holy days.