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From Punk to Monk

A Memoir

Foreword by Moby
Published by Mandala Publishing
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

“Ragunath’s transformation shows how one person’s choice to evolve can change the lives of so many. This book is real, funny, and inspirational.” —Jay Shetty

The heartfelt memoir of Ray Raghunath Cappo, a legendary hardcore punk musician-turned-monk—and pioneer of the straight-edge movement—told with warmth, candor, and humor.

Ray Cappo was a hardcore punk singer and pioneer of the straight-edge movement living on the Lower East Side of New York City in the ’80s, where his band Youth of Today played to packed clubs and touched thousands of people across the globe. But despite the accolades from fans, the popularity of his records, and the positivity he’d brought to the punk music scene, none of this success gave Ray joy. He felt stagnant, and he yearned for something more.

This, along with his father’s untimely death, led him to abruptly quit the band and buy a one-way ticket to India in pursuit of the answers to life’s great mysteries. Living as a monk in the sacred city of Vrindavan and traveling across the country on a series of train trips, Ray embraced the rich, spiritual culture he discovered there. As his unusual adventure unfolded, he encountered extraordinary characters, witnessed deep acts of devotion, and experienced profound moments of divine connection, leading to a radical transformation that was ego-crushing and blissful all at once.

Inspired to write music again, Ray returned to the US, where he and other monks founded Shelter, a band dedicated to spreading a message of faith, hope, and love.

Told with warmth, candor, and humor—and featuring a foreword by globally renowned musician Moby—this heartfelt memoir chronicles Ray’s emotional and spiritual journey from punk to monk and beyond.

About The Author

As a teen in the 80s, Ray Cappo founded the hardcore punk band Youth of Today, which championed the principles of clean living, vegetarianism, and self-control. After experiencing a spiritual awakening in India, he formed a new band, Shelter, devoted to spreading a message of hope through spiritual connection. Ray currently leads yoga retreats, trainings, and kirtans at his Supersoul Farm retreat center in Upstate New York, as well as annual pilgrimages to India. He is the co-founder and co-host of Wisdom of the Sages, a daily yoga podcast that has been ranked #1 on Apple for podcasts about spirituality.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Mandala Publishing (April 9, 2024)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781647228699

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Raves and Reviews

“Ragunath’s transformation shows how one person’s choice to evolve can change the lives of so many. This book is real, funny, and inspirational.”

– Jay Shetty

“Ray’s extraordinary journey is not only a testament to the power of principled living, but also a stirring call to be better stewards to the people around us. From Punk to Monk proves that keeping your heart and mind open can radically transform your life.”

– Rich Roll

“Raghunath is a beloved, enlightened teacher to countless people all over the world. The compassion and expertise in which he presents his music, yoga, and podcasts—along with his personal interactions—transforms our hearts and uplifts our spirits. I am sincerely grateful that in this book he is sharing his own extraordinary life. His story is filled with adventure, wisdom, and hope. Thank you, Raghunath.”

– Radhanath Swami

“Sincerity of heart is the golden road of Devotion. Like a flame dispelling darkness, Raghunath’s heart has led him forward on the Path and shines out to help others find their way. Ram Ram.”

– Krishna Das

“I read this book in two days; I could not put it down. This is a story so relatable and compelling, filled with profound spiritual teachings presented not as dogmatic, lofty preaching, but as practical wisdom to help us navigate our day. Raghunath humbly shares his insights about how he learned that leading an authentic spiritual life has very little to do with following rules and adhering to do-nots; it is about the joy that arises from remembering God and being kind to others.”

– Sharon Gannon, founder of Jivamukti Yoga

From Punk to Monk describes Raghunath’s gritty journey of self-realization; a fascinating story of an American youth finding his home in Eastern tradition, through the rocky road of existential crises, ear-splitting music, and risk-filled adventures.”

– Keli Lalita, founder of Mantralogy Records and guitarist for 108

“As a fan, it’s so interesting for me to learn about Raghunath’s early years and how the punk community played a role in the search for the spiritual meaning behind playing music for people. I look up to him as a father and a singer, and I would recommend this book for anyone who is interested in hardcore music, spirituality, and self-discovery. Also, as an addict in recovery, reading about the ethics of the straight-edge community and the ideals behind it has helped me immensely in my journey.”

– Anthony Green, lead singer of Circa Survive, Saosin, and L.S. Dunes

From Punk to Monk is a brilliant reminder that we should all look for coincidences in life and pay attention when the Universe gives us a subtle tap on the shoulder. Ray Cappo is a hardcore legend. But he’s also an amazing friend, a brilliant yoga instructor, an amazing father, and a great mentor, fighter, and teacher. This book is about inner discovery. As much as these stories reminded me of my own coming of age, they also reminded me of how far I’ve come. I hope you all enjoy the book as much as I did!”

– John "Feldy" Feldmann, producer and lead singer/guitarist for Goldfinger

“I came to this book seeking whatever answers Ray found during his journey that allowed him to live and inspire as the icon he is today. I left with a desire to ask the same profound questions as Ray. From Punk to Monk starts you on a journey of your own toward something unique, honest, and beautiful.”

– Daniel Fang, drummer for Turnstile

“I’ve known Ray Cappo since 1986, and I thought I knew him pretty well—until I read his book! The stories and adventures from his spiritual odyssey had my full attention. If you have any interest in tales about living on the outskirts of society, founding an outsider music scene, and allowing God to direct the course of your life, this book is for you.”

– Anthony "Civ" Civarelli, lead singer of Gorilla Biscuits

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