Jayapataka Swami

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
Birthname: John Gordan Erdman, Srila Acaryapada, Jayapataka Swami Gurumaharaja, Jayapataka Dasa Brahmachari
Gaudiya Vaishnavism, ISKCON
Main Countries of Activity: 
USA, India
Date of Birth: 
Place of Birth: 
Milwaukee, Winsconsin, USA
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 


Jayapataka Swami was born John Gordan Erdman on April 9, 1949 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA to John Hubert and Lorraine Erdman. He was born into opulent surroundings, his father’s father being the founder of a large paint factory, which was a multi-million dollar concern at the time of his birth.

When Jayapataka Maharaja was eleven years old, at the suggestion of his grandfather, he claims he cured himself of a skin disease by calling on the name of God. When studying at Brown University, he was moved by a guest lecture on the life of Buddha that he lost interest in his studies and began searching for a spiritual teacher. After some time of searching and austerity he concluded he would have to get to India to find his teacher.

As he was preparing to leave for India, he met a devotees of Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, doing kirtan and distributing BTGs at the park. When one devotee approached him, he was stunned to see the tilak on his face and experiencing some strange feelings he began to run. After running a few minutes, he stopped to contemplate on what he had seen and how he had been so much affected. It was the experience of seeing something after a long time, a remembering of something that had been dormant and hidden from his memory. He walked back to the park but by then the devotees were gone.

There began his search for the Hare Krishna devotees. Since ISKCON was not very well known, he could not find them for a long time. It was finally during the Ratha-yatra preparations in San Francisco that he found the location of the ISKCON center. He came to the temple where Jayananda Prabhu was making the ratha cart for Jagannatha. Jayapataka Swami was drawn into service of the Ratha by Jayananda Prabhu. Later he met Srila Prabhupada who encouraged him by inviting him to take prasadam with him and making sure he got more than just generous servings.

In just two months after visiting ISKCON, Jayapataka Swami decided to commit himself to the principles of ISKCON. Jayananda Prabhu shaved his head and some were surprised to see that within two months of coming in contact with ISKCON, he had shaved up and joined in. In 1968, Gordan John took first initiation in Montreal, Canada and was given the name Jayapataka Dasa Brahmachari and he was very soon awarded 2nd initiation in New York.

He works tirelessly and preaches dynamically in India and around the globe. He had learned many Indians languages as well as foreign languages and had wonderfully accepted the original Vedic culture, mainly the culture of Mahaprabhu's Bengal. He organised the ISKCON Food Relief programme in India after the Bangladesh war to feed the refugees and hungry people. This programme has continued for over a decade, feeding an average of around four million plates of nourishing Krishna prasadam every year to the needy without discrimination. He contributed during the 1978 flood in Bengal and sometimes he would even take a risk for distributing prasadam to the affected villagers. Ever since then, the food relief program, headed by him, has continued to provide this service. This service triggered several prominent Indians and many villagers to petition the Indian government to grant him Indian citizenship. In 1978 , after the disappearance of Srila Prabhupada, he began accepting disciples on behalf of the Gaudiya Sampradaya. He is at present one of the initiating spiritual masters (guru) of ISKCON and a member of the Governing Body Commission, as well as divisional trustee for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. He is also the Minister for Congregational Preaching.

In recent years, he has traveled around the world to initiate new disciples as adherents of sanatana dharma and Krsna consciousness.


Jayapataka Swami is adept in the principle of yukta vairagya and uses some modern facilities for spreading Krishna consciousness.


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