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, this heartfelt memoir chronicles Ray’s emotional and spiritual journey from punk to monk and beyond.

About the author(s)

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.


“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