Gordon John Erdman II
April 9, 1949
|Monastic name||Jayapataka Svāmī|
|Philosophy||Achintya Bheda Abheda|
|Teacher||A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī|
|Predecessor||A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swāmī|
|Initiation||Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava Dikṣa|
by Bhaktivedānta Swāmī
|Ordination||Gauḍīya Sannyāsa, 1970, Calcutta, by Bhaktivedānta Swāmī|
|Post||ISKCON Sannyasin, ISKCON Guru-Ācārya, ISKCON Governing Body Commissioner|
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Jayapataka Swami (born 9 April 1949 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a Vaishnava swami and a religious leader for the International 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 North American military academy. 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 Jayananda das who introduced him to the Ratha Yatra. His first service in ISKCON was to help build the Ratha Cart. From there he travelled to Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he met Srila Prabhupada. John took first initiation in Montreal, Quebec, Canada and was given the name 'Jayapataka Dasa'. Soon after he was awarded 2nd initiation in New York.
While in Montreal, Jayapataka was engaged in the service of printing books and dispatching them to other ISKCON temples around the world. Later, on the instruction of Srila Prabhupada, Jayapataka went to Toronto to open a temple there. When Jayapataka Dasa took over the Toronto center as president he wrote to Srila Prabhupada enquiring about his service and was told by him to go to 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, organised pandal programs, and went out on sankirtan and book distribution.
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 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 used this time for travelling within Bengal into the villages preaching and distributing books. Srila Prabhupada told him to distribute 10,000 'big books' and 100,000 'small books' every month. Also, Srila Prabhupada instructed Jayapataka Swami to build the congregation. He's been travelling extensively around the world for many years with the desire to fulfill this instruction of his spiritual master.
In March 1972, the first Gaura Purnima festival was held. Two hundred devotees from North America, [Ireland], England, Europe, Australia, India, and other parts of the world joined in the festival in Mayapur. Coinsiding this event, Jayapataka Swami led groups of devotees on parikrama (pilgrimage) to local holy places. This visit to Mayapur would constitute the first half of the devotees' Indian pilgrimage; after ten days they were scheduled to go to Vrndavana. The Navadvipa Mandala Parikrama has been continuing ever since with the number of devotees participating increasing each year in the thousands.
Jayapataka Swami also has recently introduced the 'Ganges Safari' to visit those holy places connected to Lord Caitanya which are approachable only along the river flow. Similarly he conducts a tour of holy places in India and neighbouring countries.
Jayapataka Swami has developed the system of bhakti-vriksa preaching which assists namahatta preaching by enabling wider preaching and giving intensive and personal training to devotees so that everyone gets the chance to train to be a pure devotee while engaging in preaching activities.
Jayapataka Swami was one among the eleven named by his peers to give initiation on behalf of Srila Prabhupada when he was seriously ill. After Srila Prabhupada Disappearance, Jayapataka Swami began to take disciples as a spiritual master in the Srila Prabhupada branch of the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya.
On 5 November 1977, Jayapataka Swami went to Vrndavana to meet Srila Prabhupada, who announced creation of Bhaktivedanta Swami Charity Trust and appointed Jayapataka Swami its life chairman. At this time he also got the mandate from Prabhupada to unite the Sarasvat family, preserving the holy dham of Caitanya and serving the pilgrims.
Jayapataka Swami started as GBC secretary in 1976 in East India which includes Bihar, Odisha 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. He is also the Minister of Congregational Preaching and Minister of Congregational Development, and the Vice-chairman of the World Hindu Federation.