Giriraj Swami’s Books


Anecdotes and articles from the pastimes and teachings of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Revised and Expanded Edition, Hardbound, 361 pages, 8 chapters, 11 color photos. Foreword by Radhanath Swami. Published by Torchlight Publishing.

“Prabhupada told me that if I simply study the character of Lord Caitanya in Sri Caitanya-caritamrta — even apart from His being the Supreme Personality of Godhead — just by studying Him as a Vaisnava, I will become perfect. So in the same way, if people study Prabhupada, apart from what his inner identity might be — which even we don’t know — if they study him just as a Vaisnava or as a great acarya or as a great personality, they will benefit.” — from Watering the Seed.



All of us can benefit from reading Life’s Final Exam. Its contents can fuel our own spiritual search, help us better understand our brethren from the Vedic tradition, and teach us much about life’s great mysteries. You will be glad you opened these pages!

–Porter Storey, MD, author of Primer of Palliative Care and the Unipac series

Life’s Final Exam stands at the crossroads where the wisdom of spiritual tradition meets real human need. Death and dying do not respect sectarian boundaries, and it is wonderful to see the riches of Vaishnava Hinduism drawn upon to sustain and console people embarked on this life’s final journey. Ministry to the sick and dying is today an increasingly interreligious phenomenon, and this book will be a welcome resource for departments of pastoral and hospice care.

–Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University

Life’s Final Exam opens a world of new insights into the mysteries of life, death, and what lies beyond. The book contains answers to life’s biggest questions seen through the eyes of love, devotion, and service. Giriraj Swami weaves the perennial wisdom of the Vedic tradition, which is not very well known in the West, with practical experience and support for those working in hospice and for anyone who cares for others at the great threshold. Regardless of a person’s spiritual path, Life’s Final Exam offers fresh perspectives into what we all hope for and most cherish in life. Here is a new volume for the growing world library of The Books of Living and Dying.

–Richard Groves, founder of the Sacred Art of Living Center, author of The American Book of Living and Dying
From the Author
Why should the living contemplate death and dying–how can we profit from such topics? Recently a colleague and friend of mine passed away, and before his death he said, “When you get this close to death, you see that it is not what you thought. All our life we fear it, but when you are this close you see that it is not the end; it is a portal to opportunities beckoning us, a portal beyond which we are able to see our true existence and nature–that we are all actually entities that don’t pass away. It is not something negative or destructive; it is the opposite of that, hugely life-affirming. Life is for learning lessons, and death is our best instructor to teach us the most important of lessons because it reveals the essence and purpose of our life and throws a light on our eternal spiritual nature.”

Being mindful of death–our own or that of others–helps put things in proper perspective. Steve Jobs, the visionary American entrepreneur said, “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past thirty-three years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

When we are conscious of death, we see more clearly what is important–ultimately, our eternal relationship with the Supreme Person and reestablishing it by chanting and hearing and serving–and what is not.


Many Moons: Reflections on Departed Vaishnavas

Hardbound, 358 pages, 9 chapters, 16 pages of color photos. Foreword by Bhakti Bhringa Govinda Swami. Published by Torchlight Publishing.

In prosecuting the Hare Krishna movement all over the world, Srila Prabhupada was looking for just one moon–one devotee to be trained and engaged in dissipating the darkness of the Age of Kali, the darkness in people’s hearts–in accordance with the Sanskrit maxim “Innumerable stars cannot dissipate the darkness, but one moon can illuminate the night.”

In spite of so many difficulties and disappointments, Srila Prabhupada persisted in his mission–to get one moon. That was his great desire. But would it be fulfilled? And if he did get such a moon, would we even be able to recognize it?

After some years in America teaching his new devotees the philosophy of Krishna consciousness, instructing them in the pure chanting of the holy name, and training them in the loving service of Krishna Chaitanya, Srila Prabhupada disclosed his heart. He explained, “Our propaganda is to create one moon. But fortunately, by Krishna’s grace, many moonlike boys and girls have come to me–many moons.”

We were not even sure of one moon, but Srila Prabhupada, out of his extraordinary mercy and power–and by Krishna’s grace–created many.

Many Moons may be purchased here.


I’ll Build You a Temple – The Juhu Story

I’ll build you a temple transports us into one of the great events of our time. It is a story of surrender on the path of love – an incomparable story that many have tried to relate but which no one will ever be able to tell like His Holiness Giriraj Swami. He was there, intimately involved, from beginning to end.

In 1972 Srila Prabhupada chose a site for a temple on an undeveloped property infested with rats, mosquitoes, and hostile opponents in a swampy fishing village miles away from the city of Bombay. He welcomes the deities of Radha-Rasabihari into a small shed and promised to build Them a wonderful temple.

– Radhanath Swami


This book is a page-turner to the highest degree; once you begin, you just can’t put it down. . .Through Maharaja’s carefully chosen words, you will see the exquisite sights and feel like you are living the experiences that were part of establishing the Hare Krishna Movement in India. You will meet incredible devotees, who became pillars of this movement through their own storied spiritual growth and advancement and be introduced to seemingly ordinary persons whose lives became transformed by contact with Prabhupada and his “dancing white elephants,” just as he envisioned.
—Malati Dasi
Foreword, Dancing White Elephants

In 1971 Srila Prabhupada directed young Giriraj Brahmachari, “You should write. This is your first business”—an instruction he repeated over the years.

Now—forty-two years after Srila Prabhupada’s order and following both His Divine Grace’s instruction that “one may temporarily suspend the order of the spiritual master, but one should never neglect it” and his example that “just like my guru maharaja gave me the order to write, [though] I have no time . . . I am always thinking of his order, and when the opportunity arises, I will take it up again”—Giriraj Swami has written his fifth book, Dancing White Elephants: Traveling with Srila Prabhupada in India, August 1970–March 1972, covering visits to Amritsar, Indore, Surat, Bombay, Calcutta, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Delhi, Madras, and Mayapur.

In some four hundred pages of text and seventeen images, Dancing White Elephants, with a foreword by Malati Dasi, who was present for most of the adventures, will captivate the minds and hearts of readers and increase their attachment to and love for Srila Prabhupada and his “white elephants,” his disciples who helped him in his mission.


About the Author

Presently based in Carpinteria, California, Giriraj Swami is now focusing on one of the main personal instructions he received from Srila Prabhupada-to write.

He is the author of Watering the Seed, Many Moons: Reflections on Departed Vaishnavas, Life’s Final Exam: Death and Dying from the Vedic Perspective, I’ll Build You a Temple: The Juhu Story, and Dancing White Elephants: Traveling with Srila Prabhupada in India, August 1970 to March 1972, and is working on several publications, including his search for a spiritual master and his early days in the Boston temple, and Vaishnava holy days.