Jayapataka Swami (born April 9, 1949, Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a Vaishnava swami and a religious leader for theInternational Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) He is a senior disciple of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Presently he is one of the initiating spiritual masters, (ISKCON Gurus), a member of the Governing Body Commission (GBC), and is a divisional trustee for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT).
Jayapataka Swami was born as Gordon John Erdman II to Gordon John Erdman and Lorraine Erdman (Golich). At 16, he graduated in the top of his class from St. John's Academy, a college preparatory school. He was offered full scholarship by Brown University. There, as a fresh enrollee, he was influenced by a guest lecture on the life of Buddha that he lost all interest in his studies and began searching for a spiritual teacher. After some time of searching he concluded he would have to go to India to find his teacher.
Before leaving for India, Gordon came across some Hare Krishna devotees, doing kirtan and distributing 'Back To Godhead' magazine. Shortly after he visited the San Francisco ISKCON center, where he met Srila Prabhupada. John took first initiation in Montreal, Canada and was given the name 'Jayapataka Dasa'. Soon after he was awarded 2nd initiation in New York.
Preaching in India
At Calcutta, Jayapataka began to learn Bengali by going out to buy fruits and vegetables. Along with the other devotees, he conducted house programs, organized pandal programs, and went out on sankirtan and book distribution.
On Radhashtami (festival for Radharani) in 1970, in Calcutta, Srila Prabhupada gave sannyasa initiation to Jayapataka Dasa, awarding the title "Tridandi Biksu Jayapataka Swami".
When ISKCON got a land in Mayapur, Jayapataka Swami went there on the instruction of Srila Prabhupada. There were 5 other devotees with him. Jayapataka Swami taught modern techniques of agriculture and the farmers taught him Bengali. Jayapataka Swami began to oversee construction work in Mayapur and the lotus building was built.
With the permission of Srila Prabhupada, Jayapataka Swami applied for Indian citizenship. This meant that he could not leave the country. He utilized this time for traveling within Bengal into the villages preaching and distributing books.
Responsibilities in ISKCON
Jayapataka Swami is the world chairman for 'Food for Life' and ISKCON's Food Relief Programs. Jayapataka Swami started as GBC secretary in 1976 in East India which includes Bihar, Orissa and Bengal. From 1980 to 1999 he was the GBC for South-East USA, as well as South America. He is also the GBC for Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, the Far East and Assam.