Meet John Weddepohl

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 a rascal, John Weddepohl has always been blessed with teachers. A Master Educator, John received his formal education and training in the direct lineage of India’s favourite sage Adi Shankara and the Rishi Patanjali Siddha.

Given the mandate by his masters to share Atma Vidya (Self-knowledge) teachings revived by Shankara 2500 years ago, John also teaches Asta Yoga, the Yoga of Rishi Siddha Agustya and the 18 Tamil Siddhas

Travelling the globe, teaching in Europe, the USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa, John inspires many by with Atma Vidya on teacher trainings and online learning programs   

Be Careful What You Ask For   

Kali Nath Aghori Baba is a Himalayan Yogi whom John met and spent precious time with in the Himalayas. Giving the sage a camera, Kali Nath later sent John this photo.

Deciding late in his life that the little fame and fortune had to offer was not good enough, wanting happiness that did not always disappear, John relinquished a successful career and went in search of the solution.

Hoping to catch a rare glimpse of what the prophets and sages call Truth, John discovered that there is only Truth. Meeting his Masters in India, he discovered that Truth, being common, is the most ordinary thing there is – (we just haven’t seen it yet!)
Learning that permanent happiness being the very nature of every human being, is ever present and ever available – (not something anyone can work for!) – changed everything!

The Journey of Self

Persuaded by his first yoga teacher Alan Finger and his late father Yogiraj Mani Finger, John opened a yoga school for them in downtown Johannesburg South Africa in 1969. Under the South African apartheid government, it didn’t take long before the school was shut down by the authorities and he needed a job.
A talented musician from the age of seven, John soon found success singing and performing in South Africa’s popular bands. After leaving the stage, John found his niche composing music for film and television. Awarded internationally for his work, despite enjoying the lavish lifestyle, John found the flame of yoga would not be extinguished

With the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, the cultural boycott banning South African’s from India ended, and, in 2004, hungry for knowledge, John began travelling across India living as a western sadhu साधु.


They say that nothing is new under the sun. When it comes to the Self, as the seer of time, because the Self outlives and outshines everything, its teachings called Self-knowledge, Atma Vidya आत्मा विद्या have always been kept sacred. Revelling in and revealing our absolute true nature – as timeless as time itself, Atma Vidya आत्मा विद्या by removing our ignorance, defeats death, curing us of our suffering.

 Chai stop on the way to one of India’s oldest pilgrimage towns aboard Buddha the Enfield. Called ‘Buddha’ for its rich exhaust note ‘Buddha buddha buddha. . John rode Buddha through central Tamil Nadu to Palani the home of the Tamil Siddhas. Known as the Siddha Bhumi, Palani is the home of the Bhoganathar Siddha Parampei, Johns Siddha Family  

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

Meeting his master John made India his home. For the next seven years, John studied Atma Vidya आत्मा विद्या and practiced Asta Yoga, the yoga of Agustya Rishi.  

 Maha Guru Bhoganathar Siddha is the Great Guru of Kriya Babaji the deathless Saint mentioned in the ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’ by Yogananda and the Param Guru of Patanjali Siddha. Bhoga received initiation in Para Vidya (Supreme Self-knowledge) from his guru Kalinginatha. Kalniginatha who went to China. Bhoga is known in China as Bo Yang Lao Tsu and recognised as the founder of the TOA (see article)

Ashram Life – Thiruvanamalai India

As part of India’s gurukula system, students get invited by their Master to join him at his ashram. Breaking with tradition, in 2007, John’s Master invited him to join the 2 year brahmacharya course at his ashram in Thiruvanamalai. Joining a small group of young Indian students, their master, a PhD in English, broke with another tradition by taking all their classes in English.

In Thiruvanamalai, under the Holy mountain of Shiva called Arunachala and on the banks of Holy Mother Ganga in Rishikesh, John received his formal education and initiation in the timeless teachings of yoga called Para Vidya (परा विद्या) – Supreme Self-knowledge.

It is through the grace and blessing of his Master H.H. Sri Pujya Suddhananda Swamiji and his Param Guru, Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji (1930-2015) acknowledged as the greatest Advaita Vedanta scholar of our time and ‘guru of gurus’, that John was able to assimilate the knowledge and now shares the deep transformative wisdom of yoga of the Upanishads.

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

इष्टम् ISHTAM

Calling what he teaches इष्टम् ISHTAM John combines Atma Vidya (Self-knowledge jnana yoga) with the yoga of Agustya Rishi and the Tamil Siddhas, called ASTA Yoga (Raja Yoga). 

‘Arriving in India, thirsty for knowledge, I finally met my Master through whose grace I discovered that long before I ever started looking for the Truth, Truth had already reached and found me. For the timeless wisdom I am eternally grateful to my Guru H.H. Suddhananda Swamiji to whom I offer my eternal pranams. Without Swamiji this vagabond would still be wandering aimlessly; a restless, homeless sadhu.’

‘Without Self-knowledge our whole life’s journey is incomplete. Every journey having a beginning has to end. Self-Knowledge completes our journey. Knowing ourselves as the beginning, the journey 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. Recognising John as Yogiraj, Swamigal gave John his Siddha name Siddharthan सिद्धार्थन and appointed him to represent the Dynastic Bhoganathar lineage and Siddha tradition abroad.

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

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

Meeting and marrying his partner Rachel Zinman John and Rachel share इष्टम् ISHTAM at festivals, workshops and teacher trainings around the world.  

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

With the majority of their time being spent travelling and teaching abroad, John and Rachel’s dream is to develop their centre for the teachings of इष्टम् ISHTAM they own in South Africa. John and Rachel currently live between सुन्दरम् Sundaram the centre they are developing in South Africa and Byron Bay Australia.

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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