Early years – the search begins
Jayapataka Swami was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA to Gordon John Erdman and Lorraine Erdman (Golich). His birth name was Gordon John Erdman. He took birth on the Ekadasi day after Rama Navami.
At the age of two, he taught himself to read. This pastime was personally told to us by his mother, Mother Laurie, in 1989 on a visit to Atlanta, Georgia.
One evening, Mother Laurie and her husband were preparing to go out to dinner. She went to say goodnight to Jay (as he was known to his family) and he insisted that she sit with him while he was looking at a book. Jay was turning the pages carefully and reading the words on the page. At first Mother Laurie was thinking that somehow he had memorized her reading to him. Which at the age of two was pretty amazing anyway. But after testing him carefully, she realized that he was actually reading the words on the page. He had learned to read on his own.
He showed a strong interest in mythology and philosophy from a very early age. At the age of eleven he contracted a skin disease. His grandfather suggested that he cure it by invoking the holy name of the Lord. Jay did as instructed and the disease was cured.
He was a very bright and advanced student in all of his studies. So much so that when he went to School at St. John's Northwestern Military Academy, he graduated early at the top of his class. He was advanced to higher classes skipping some years because of his abilities and intelligence. He scored in the top 1% of students taking College Admissions Exams and after graduation, he was offered a full scholarship to several major universities. He accepted the one offered by a prominent Ivy league university named Brown University. This is considered a major achievement in the United States.
While he was a freshman, he went to a lecture by a guest speaker on the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. Hearing this inspired him to begin his search for his own Guru. He left his studies to pursue this quest. After searching for a while, he realized that he might have to go to India to find that Guru.