John Weddepohl | Siddharthan

John Weddepohl  |  Siddharthan सिद्धार्थन 

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 T e a c h e r

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

Describing himself as a vagabond, rogue and rascal John Weddepohl has been blessed with teachers. A native South African born in Johannesburg, John left his vocation in music in 2004 to pursue his thirst for knowledge.
Meeting his visionary master H.H. Pujiya Suddhananda Saraswati, John studied Atma Vidya – the teaching of Self-knowledge of the veda/upanishads

Mandated by his Guru to share the teachingsJohn has been travelling with the knowledge and sharing ever since. 

John with his Vedanta Master Pujiya Swamiji H.H. Suddhananda Saraswati visiting Cape Town South Africa

Be Careful What You Ask For  

Deciding late in his life the little fame and fortune had to offer was not good enough, hoping to catch a rare glimpse of what the sages and prophets call truth, John found out that there is only truth – he just hadn’t seen it yet!

Truth being everywhere, has never been closer than ourselves. Once our true eternal nature as a human being is pointed out, we find out perfect peace and happiness is not a destination. Already the nature of ourselves, in ‘Self-knowledge I discovered the timeless completeness is ever reached and ever present as oneself.’

Searching for Self

In 1969 at the age of nineteen, John took to yoga like a fish to water. Urged by the founders of ISHTA yoga Alan Finger and his late father Mani Finger to become a teacher, John opened the ISHTA yoga school for them in downtown Johannesburg. Located on the top floor of the city’s first flea market, the building soon became a hotbed of anti-establishment radicalism and, under South Africa’s apartheid system, was forced to shut down by the authorities. Finding himself out of a job, a talented musician from the age of seven, John found success as a singer-songwriter performing with some of South Africa’s popular bands.
After recording a number of local and international hits, he later found his niche scoring music for film and television.
Awarded internationally for his work, despite enjoying his success, John found there was always something missing. Trying to fill the hole in his life he started travelling and exploring African wilderness areas. Visiting Namibia, Okavango Delta finding the flame of yoga could not be extinguished, in 2004, with the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, the cultural boycott banning South Africans from visiting India was lifted and John travelled to India where he lived as a western sadhu साधु.
Meeting his guru, John’s guru pointed out that the only thing missing in his life was himself!
Explaining that already we bring our own completeness with us it is only our thinking that completeness is in something else, that creates all our problems.
Withdrawing into the seclusion of ‘Self Knowledge Village’, his guru’s ashram John immersed himself in the teachings of Atma Gnanam, Self-knowledge, the ancient teaching of the veda/upanishads .
Getting his education in Self-knowledge John completed his journey. Learning the truth, that the eternal we seek is ever gained. Not a ‘Long walk to Freedom’, already present as ourselves, pointing out the eternal Truth that has always been present John’s Guru removed the mystery and doubt and like the sun rising in his life, Self-knowledge exploded.
Long before we search for the truth, we already carry the Truth with us. Carrying creations greatest secret and able to resolve the biggest mystery is the human being. Already ourselves the Sun of the Self is waiting to be discovered.  To have our secret revealed, all we have to do is show up and make ourselves available. One word: ‘I’ holds the Truth. One word unlocks our secret. For truth to be revealed, all we need is ourselves to be available. Once the thought of ourselves is resolved and the teacher helps us recognise the Truth that we carry with us our whole lives. Obliterating all the darkness, the black hole the size of the universe instantly disappears. No longer living in a shadow of doubt knowing Self removes all doubt. Like the sun rising fills the darkness, Self knowledge fills up the vacuum of our ignorance and the blackness instantly disappears. Once Self is recognised, lighting up the universe, knowing the truth of who we are the burdens we carry instantly lift. Having always been complete, having never been such a thing as incompleteness, once the teacher points it out, the weight of the universe lifts off our shoulders ending all needless pain and suffering.

Tiruvanamalai India – The Home of Self-Knowledge. 

It is said there is nothing new under the sun. When it comes to the human being, as the seer of time, Self outshines and outlives everything. Described by Sri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita as brighter than a thousand exploding suns, shining through the mists of time, the teaching and teacher of Self-knowledge; Atma Vidya आत्मा विद्या has always shone brightest. Resolving mans greatest mystery the mystery and enigma that is ourselves and our human existence, Self-knowledge by revealing the truth of who we are, unlocks the universal secret and eternal mystery that is man himself.
Having stood the test of time, after saving countless generations before us from needless pain and suffering, flawlessly revealing the universal nature and truth we all are, the teaching remains as ever fresh and inexhaustible as the day it first dawned and and Truth was heard.
When the teaching threatened to disappear 2500 years ago, to stop the teaching from going extinct and
save future it for generations, Adi Shankara (509-477BCE) India’s great saint, spent his life dedicated to it’s revival.
The secret to the teaching of Self-knowledge is its methodology. After Shankara revived the teaching, priests thought to safeguard the teaching of Self-knowledge, they’d keep it secret and ‘in house’. Hidden in secrecy, over time, it got lost in religious taboo and orthodoxy. Its methodology forgotten soon Self-knowledge teaching became so secret it became secret even to the priests themselves.
Had Indian modernists not stepped in and revived the teaching of Self-knowledge and rediscovered its methodology, Atma Vidya could possibly have disappeared for good.
Translating Atma Vidya from Sanskrit into English for the first time, modernists teaching Self-knowledge to children in primary schools are reviving the tradition.
What was once kept a secret, is
no longer exclusive. Consciousness being common and universal is not exceptional. Teaching us who we are, truth is now available to us in English.
Through education, what once was once thought exceptional, becomes the new norm.
Only a generation ago, a child being able to read and write would have been thought impossible
Now through education, a child by the age of eight is expected to read and write or considered to have a learning disability.
No longer the exception, to become educated and ‘enlightened’ to our true nature as human beings in Self-knowledge, is easy. The less we limit ourselves and more normal our human behaviour becomes, no longer governed and dictated to by ignorance, knowing ourselves as the Truth, we can no longer destroy ourselves and the world we inhabit. Thriving in the truth, enjoying the wonderment we can go about saving rather than destroying our only Planet Earth. 

 Chai stop on the way to Palani, one of India’s most sacred pilgrimage towns aboard Buddha the Enfield. Named ‘Buddha’ for its rich exhaust note ‘Buddha buddha buddha. . John rode Buddha through central Tamil Nadu, where he met his Siddha family, the Bhoganathar Pulippani Siddha Parampei.  

Living in tribal villages in the jungle of Odisha, sleeping on concrete floors in central Tamil Nadu, travelling north, south, east and west after making friends with sampradayas and paramparas, different sects and lineages of India’s ancient Sanatana Dharma, John finally met his Master.

Making India his home, for the next seven years he studied Atma Vidya आत्मा विद्या and practiced Asta Yoga of Rishi Agustya the Yoga of the Tamil Siddhas.

 Bhoganathar Siddha the Great Guru of Babaji and Param Guru of Patanjali Siddha.
received initiation in Para Vidya (Supreme Self-knowledge) from his Master Kalinginatha whom he followed to China. RecognIsed as the founder of the TOA (see article) in China Bhoga is known  as Bo Yang Lao Tsu

Ashram Life – Self-Knowledge Village Thiruvanamalai India

As part of India’s gurukula system students are invited to join their guru on his ashram. Breaking with tradition, in 2007, John was invited him to join the 2 year brahmacharya course at his Master’s Ashram in Thiruvanamalai. Joining the small group of young students, Swamiji, a modernist with a PhD in English, broke with tradition further by taking all the classes in English.

John at the Suddhananda ‘Self-knowledge Village’ Ashramam with his fellow gurubhais.

Under Arunachala, the Holy mountain of Shiva in Thiruvanamalai and on the banks of the Holy Mother Ganges in Rishikesh, John received his formal education and initiation in Para Vidya (परा विद्या) Knowledge of the Supreme.

Studying with his guru and his Param Guru, Pujya Swami Sri Dayananda Saraswati (1930-2015) acknowledged as one of the greatest Advaita Vedanta scholars and teacher’s of our time and ‘guru of gurus’, it is through the grace of his Vedanta guru’s and the parampara (lineage) that John is able to assimilate the timeless wisdom and share the deep transformative knowledge of the Veda/Upanishads.

Kali Nath Aghori Baba
Meeting the Aghori Baba John spent precious time with Kali Nath Aghori Baba in Nepal. A disciple of Dr. Ram Nath Aghori Baba one of India’s greatest yogi’s and supreme guru’s of our time, Dr Ram Nath Aghori was the living Guru of the Nath Siddha Sampradaya.
(photo taken on a disposable camera John gave to Kali Nath which Kali Nath then mailed to John in South Africa)

 इष्टम् ISHTAM

Combining the teachings of Vedanta/Upanishads and ASTA YOGA of Rishi Agustya John calls what he teaches इष्टम् ISHTAM  

‘Arriving in India, thirsty for knowledge, I finally met my Master through whose grace I discovered long before I had even looked for the Truth, Truth had already reached and found me. For impeccably revealing this timeless wisdom, I am eternally grateful to my Guru H.H. Sri Suddhananda Saraswati Swamiji, to whom I offer my eternal pranams. Without Swamiji’s grace and blessing this vagabond would still be a wandering, aimless, homeless sadhu.’

‘Without Self-knowledge, one’s life journey is incomplete. Every journey has a beginning and end. Self-Knowledge, ATMA VIDYA, completes our life journey. Knowing oneself as the journey itself; the beginning and end of all journeys is इष्टम् ISHTAM.’ 

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.  Simon Pacey and Lynsay British Columbia

Visiting Kolliemalai with Sri Lasri Sivananda Pulippani Pathira Swamigal, the dynastic head of the Bhoganathar Siddha Parampai. Swamigal gave John his name Siddharthan सिद्धार्थन and invited him to represent the dynastic Bhoganathar Siddha lineage abroad.

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

Traditional without being traditionalist his students love his quick wit, sense of humour and down to earth practical approach.

Meeting and marrying Rachel Zinman John and Rachel spend their time teaching इष्टम् ISHTAM at festivals teacher trainings and workshops around the world.  

Sharing their love of music John and Rachel also sing devotional Kirtan whenever possible.

Spending the majority of their time abroad, John and Rachel’s dream is to develop ‘Sundaram’ Ashram into a centre for higher learning. John and Rachel currently live between Byron Bay, NSW. Australia and सुन्दरम् Sundaram Ashram their home in South Africa.

Hearing names we forget the nameless.

Seeing forms we forget the formless.

  Listening to divine melodies we forget the 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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 J o h n s  T e a c h e r s  i n  I n d i a

His Holiness Kaviyogi Maharishi Doctor Suddhananda Bharati 

Yogiraj Dr Ramnath Aghori Baba

Srilasri Sivananda Pulippani Pathira Swamigal  

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 owner of  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 ISHTA-Mala इष्ट माला derives from Ishvarapranidana the core of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. ISHTA-Mala इष्ट माला is a garland of practices to balance the doshas and help build ojas helping the practitioner prepare the mind and establish 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 – your Ishtadevata.

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