John Weddepohl  |  Siddharthan

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 T e a c h e r

Joining two time honoured teaching lineages dating back to India’s great revivalist Adi Shankara and the Siddha Patanjali John Weddepohl is one of few English speakers sharing the rare upanishadic teachings of Self-knowledge (आत्मा ज्ञानम् Atma Gnanam) and the Kriya Siddha method. Describing himself as a vagabond, rogue and rascal, teacher, musician John Weddepohl has always been blessed with teachers. 

Born to teach.

Wondering why true happiness kept eluding him, John decided late in his life that the little fame and success had to offer was not good enough. Relinquishing his success, he went off in search of the solution. Hoping to catch a rare glimpse of what prophets and sages call Truth, John discovered there is only Truth. Finding out from his Masters that Truth alone exists, that being common Truth is the most ordinary thing there is (we just haven’t seen it yet!) and that happiness is our true nature, always present and available – (not something you can work for!) – changed everything.

Mandated by his Masters to go out and teach John has been traveling with the knowledge and sharing ever since. 

Yoga Journey

Encouraged by his first teachers Mani and Alan Finger to open a yoga school in downtown Johannesburg South Africa in 1969, under apartheid South Africa, it wasn’t long before the authorities shut the school down and he needed a job. A talented musician from the age of seven, John soon found success as a session singer and solo artist working with two of the countries top bands. After recording a few hits locally and internationally, John turned to composing music for film and television. Awarded internationally for his work, John found despite his success, the flame of yoga could not be extinguished.

Finally with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, sanctions barring South Africans from visiting India were lifted and arriving in 2004, John started travelling India as a western साधु sadhu.

Stopping for Chai in Tamil Nadu on the way to Palani on his Enfield called ‘Buddha’ for its rich exhaust note ‘Buddha buddha buddha. . ‘  


Living in tribal villages in the jungles of Orissa, happy to sleep on concrete floors in central Tamil Nadu, hungry for knowledge John travelled north, south, east and west making friends with sampradayas and paramparas different sects and lineages of India’s ancient Sanatana Dharma.

While it may be argued whether Germany makes the best cars, Italian design is the best, or that the French cook the best food, India has always had the best knowledge. Because Self (आत्मन् Atman) outshines and outlives everything, knowledge of Self called आत्मा विद्या Atma Vidya has always been held sacred.

Finally meeting his Vedanta Master and his Kriya Siddha family in the tradition of Bhoganathar Siddha (Great Guru of Babaji and Param Guru of Patanjali Siddha) John spent the next seven years studying Self-knowledge and practicing Asta Yoga of Agustya. 

Kali Nath Aghori Baba Nepal dear friend and disciple of Great Guru Baba Ram Nath Aghori Baba.

Ashram Life – Thiruvanamalai India

Breaking with tradition his Advaita Master invited John to join the 2 year brahmacharya course at his ashram. As part of India’s ancient gurukula system, joining the small group of young Indian students their Master, a PhD in English broke with another tradition taking all their classes in English. Taken through the principle upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and other key texts over a period of seven years, in the shadow of Arunachalam, the Holy mountain of Shiva in Thiruvanamalai and on the banks of Mother Ganga in Rishikesh, John received his education and initiation in परा विद्या Para Vidya (Supreme Self-knowledge).

It is through the grace and blessing of his Master H.H. Sri Pujya Suddhananda Swamiji that John has been able to assimilate the knowledge and share the power and wisdom of yoga found in the Upanishads. 

H.H. Sri Suddhananda Pujiya Swamiji Johns Vedanta Master in Cape Town South Africa 

Combining Self-knowledge with Asta Yoga of Agustya John calls what he teaches इष्टम् ISHTAM. 

“Without Self-knowledge our life journey is incomplete. Every journey has a beginning and an end. Self-knowledge completes the journey. Realising ourselves as the beginning, the journey and end of all journeys is इष्टम् ISHTAM.”  


With Sri Lasri Sivananda Pulipani Pathira Swamigal of the Bhoganathar Pulipani Siddha Tradition, Guru Parampara of Patanjali Siddha in Koliemalai Tamil Nadu.

‘Arriving in India, thirsty for knowledge, I finally met my Master who showed me long before I even looked for Truth, Truth had already found and reached me. For this understanding I am eternally grateful to my Master H.H. Suddhananda Swamiji to whom I offer my eternal pranams. Without Swamiji this vagabond would still be a homeless, aimless sadhu.’

Traditional without being traditionalist students love John’s quick wit, sense of humour and down to earth practical approach. (see testimonials below).

Drawing water from many different ghats (springs or watering holes), from traditional healers (sangomas) in Africa, to sadhus living on the ashrams of Orissa, Nepal, Rishikesh, Bihar and Tamil Nadu, John’s teaching reflects these different streams of knowledge. 

Meeting and marrying his partner Rachel Zinman John and Rachel share इष्टम् ISHTAM at festivals, workshops and teacher trainings in India, Japan, Australia, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the U.S.A. and South Africa. 

Sharing in their love of music John and Rachel also share Kirtan whenever possible.

Spending the majority of their time travelling and teaching abroad John and Rachel hope to develop a centre where the teachings can continue on an ongoing basis. John and Rachel live between सुन्दरम् Sundaram Yoga Village and ashram the centre they are developing in Plettenberg Bay South Africa and Byron Bay Australia.

 Hearing names we forget the nameless

Seeking forms we forget the formless

  Listening to divine melodies we forget silence

Chasing rainbows we forget the light of our own consciousness

Seeking ourselves we forget our effortless presence

S i d d h a r t h a n  –  J o h n  W e d d e p o h l 

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 S i d d h a r t h a n s  T e a c h e r s  i n  I n d i a 

Teachers in India

His Holiness Kaviyogi Maharishi Doctor Suddhananda Bharati 

Yogiraj Dr Ramnath Aghori Baba

Srilasri Sivananda Pulipani Pathira Swamigal (Boghanathar Siddha Kriya Yoga) 

H.H. Swami Suddhananda Saraswati (Vedanta Master)

H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswati (Vedanta Master)

see  इष्टम् ISHTAM

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 T e s t i m o n i a l s 

ishtam testimonials

John’s depth of understanding of Self-Knowledge and Advaita Vedanta and the Bhagavad-Gita are beyond compare. Even more beautiful is his ability to communicate or translate in an accessible way the meaning and nuances of these vast philosophies and texts. The sign of a true teacher is when he can share his knowledge in a way that inspires, helps us to understand concepts and ideas through our own deep knowing and experiences, as well as leave us with the desire to want to know more. John is this kind of teacher.

Jodi Boone Seattle Washington

testimonial for john weddepohl

John Weddepohl taught philosophy on my Yoga Teacher Training course in Goa. The students loved him and I’m impressed by his kindness and humility. He teaches in a way that dusts off the old manuscripts and brings the Gita to life off the page. As a lecturer, he brilliantly takes difficult concepts like Advaita Vedanta and renders them simple and comprehensible. He is a brilliant teacher of Self Knowledge and shares his knowledge in a way that inspires others. John’s Kirtan performances are filled with beauty and bhakti. He teaches with humour and compassion – a truly great soul.

Heather Elton Yoga Teacher, Writer, Photographer- London, England


Brunch at Brenners with Rachel & John was great. And most of all John’s lecture at AIRYOGA was very very inspiring – after class I tried to push every thought away and just be me – it was most relaxing (even in a terrible traffic jam I was smiling) and to be not caught up in a thought:) Thank you so much John. Can’t wait to have you back at AIRYOGA next year!

Dagmar Sturh – Director at  AIRYOGA München – AIRAYOGA Zurich.

testimonial from Lyns and Pace

We had the good fortune of experiencing John’s wonderful energy and colourful teaching style during a YTT 200 course. His shining baby blue eyes and radiant smile tell the tale of his joyous approach to teaching…and life. John has the ability to speak about the burning questions to life with a childlike wonder and fascination. By breaking down complicated philosophical teachings through the use of real world examples and stories, the lessons became easier to grasp. The stories also provided as much entertainment as learning value…we will never see ice-cream the same again! Our only complaint was not having more time to sit and learn from such a generous soul. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment with John and will take advantage of any opportunity to study with him in the future!

 Simon Pacey and Lynsay British Columbia February 2012

ishtam John’s suggested practice and thoughts about self-knowledge make for a full week of yoga. I’ve since incorporated his sequence into my daily practice, and I’m liking it. Bradley Zeve Carmel Valley, California



Simone Sipply

As a teacher of Self Knowledge (Jnana Yoga)- John is really open to questions and discussions and has a seemingly endless pool of examples to help you understand the knowledge of who you are.  John manages through his in depth teachings to create a unique experience that brings you to yoga in a broader context helping you to find yourself and get a different view on your life. 

Simon Sipply- Dusseldorf

testimonial for John Weddepohl

John has a way of giving meaning to your life in a fun and clear manner.  He thoroughly enjoys teaching and sharing his knowledge and makes me laugh at how simple and beautiful life can be.  Azura Lallot -New Zealand.  

– John, your teachings really blew my mind in the best possible way. I was literally hanging on every word thinking yes, yes yes that speaks exactly to me and my experience, thank GOD someone has finally explained this to me in a way that makes sense so I can get on with my life!! All the therapy to try and think myself out of my depressed state that is caused by my thinking – trying to cancel thoughts out with more thoughts – imagine how stupid this is! And then the mindfulness training, knowing that I need to detach from my thoughts but not understanding how to do that because I didn’t understand the whole happiness concept because nobody had ever explained who I am in a way that I understood.

I feel this incredible freedom that I don’t need any of the shit I thought I needed to be happy –  some destination where I will magically find happiness – ha! I look at it now and it seems so stupid. …  and the idea that it’s ok to have desires, that I don’t have to become some swami who lives in a cave and eats dal every meal.

 – Madeline Lipson. Byron Bay. NSW

Sabine Kuhnert

I gained a lot from learning about Self -Knowledge and now after the retreat being back in Germany, I realised that I took something very special home with me. Thanks for this wonderful present. Sabine Kuhnert- Cologne

** The term इष्ट माला ISHTA-MALA derives from Ishvarapranidana the core of the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. इष्ट माला ISHTA-MALA is a garland of practices used to balance the doshas and help build ojas thereby helping the practitioner prepare the mind for establishing a personal relationship with the Divine. A prepared and clear mind – called adhikari –  is a mind ready to glimpse the Truth (darshan).  इष्ट माला ISHTA Mala is a daily offering of Tapas on the alter of consciousness at the feet of the Divine – our Ishtadevata.


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