The Rock Star Who Radiates Divine Playfulness, Bhakti Yoga & Life-Altering Truths | Raghunath Cappo #068

In this episode of the Vital Veda Podcast we have a very special guest, Raghunath (Ray) Cappo, who has a wonderful life-story & absolutely profound teachings to share. 

A hardcore punk rockstar turned celibate monk turned teacher of all things Vedic.
Raghunath (Ray) Cappo achieved great fame & prominence within the punk-rock scene in the 80s, and yet decided to give it all up and wholeheartedly dive into a purely spiritual path. 
For 6 and a half years he became a celibate monk of the Hare Krishna Bhakti-Vedanta tradition and now dedicates himself to teaching & enlightening others with the powerful knowledge he attained during his wonderful lifetime. 

About our Guest: Raghunath Cappo

By the late 1980’s, Ray Cappo's punk rock band had tens of thousands of fans. Ray was a trendsetter in the centre of hardcore culture.
Then Ray discovered Bhakti Yoga, became a monk, and became “Raghunath.”
Interestingly after that, he started another punk rock band called “Shelter”, which became even more successful.
Raghunath Cappo
All members of the Shelter band were Yogi monks who would tour all over America & the world, singing to large crowds about clean living, self-mastery, vegetarianism and God through hardcore punk music. 
Now he’s the opposite of a monk and punk rocker.
Raghunath is a devotee to the Vedas and Bhatki Yogi who is magnificently relevant at integrating vedic wisdom with the modern world and sharing it in the most playful way.
He is a yoga teacher, spiritual storyteller and he is Born to Give.

In this Episode we Discuss:

The Shift from Rajas and Tamas to Sattva

The self realization that allows for the letting-go of toxic habits. 
The power behind realizing this truth for one’s self (pratyakṣa) as opposed to it being “preached” to us.

The Punk Rock Days

Being very attracted to the counterculture but not so much to the lifestyle of drugs & alcohol that is often linked to it. 
Becoming a vegetarian early in life & taking an interest in Ayurveda, but resources were very scarce at the time. 
His First Hardcore Punk-Rock Band       “Youth of Today”
Ragunath (Ray) Cappo singing on-stage for Youth of Today
The cover of Youth of Today's first studio album "Break Down the Walls".
All of his fellow band members became interested in topics such as clean living, positive attitude, vegetarianism, animal rights & karma, so the mission of the band sort of became to rally people into these subjects.  
  • The lyrics were mostly about these topics. 
This marked the beginning of the “straight edge” punk rock movement in the early 1980s.
When the band started gaining popularity and the movement started to grow, Ragunath felt a rise of unhappiness & started to feel uncomfortable with his own ego.
  • He then decided to quit the band and move into an ashram in India to live a monk life. 

Studying the Bhagavad Gita
The Bhagavad Gita is one of the most famous and important Hindu texts. 
It is the conversation between Lord Krishna & his cousin Arjuna during the Mahabharata (the war at the dawn of the ages). 

  • In this conversation Arjuna explains that he doesn’t want to fight in this war anymore because it pains him to kill his own kin. He instead wants to become a renunciant & go live a spiritual life immersed in meditation.  
  • Krishna answers saying that everyone has their own dharma (action at any given moment in life that leads to the evolution of the individual soul & the collective), and that he cannot run away from this duty as a Kshatriya (warrior); doing so will only increase his suffering & that of the collective. 
Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita
Krishna riding the chariot and Arjuna shooting arrows in the Mahabharata
    • One therefore has to use the god-given gifts and put them to work towards dharma - towards a selfless action that feeds the spirit & not the ego. 
Understanding the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita made Raghunath realize that he had to use his gifts as a musician & lyric writer and put them to work towards a higher goal that would allow him to enlighten others as well as his own spirit.
  • It is then that he started his second band called “Shelter” along with fellow Hare Krishna punk rock musicians.
    • The idea was to make music imbibed with Vedic teachings, but in a language that his audience could understand.
    • Shelter established the Krishnacore punk rock subgenre & became even more famous & popular than “Youth of Today”.

An Overview Of Bhakti Yoga

Bhakti Yoga is the spiritual path where loving devotion is focused towards a personal deity. 
It’s not so much a mechanical process but a mental disposition in which one deposits pure devotion & love on god. 
It implies the recognition of one’s true self as a pure spirited soul that is immersed in a material world, and understanding that the only way to achieve unity with the whole is by serving God with love and devotion.
The process often linked to bhakti yoga consists of: japa, kirtan, puja, the dedication of all activities to the divine no matter how mundane or extraordinary they are, and the capacity to see divinity in absolutely every living entity.  
Kirtan कीर्तन
Kirtan or Kīrtana is the devotional chanting of hymns, mantras and the praise of deities; when done by a collective together it is called sankirtan & when taken to the streets it is called Nagarsan kirtan or Harinam
Chanting the holy names of God (kirtan & japa) is one of the five potent items of bhakti yoga according to the Caitanya-caritāmṛta of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The other 4 being:
  • Association with devotees
  • Hearing the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam
  • Residing at a holy place
  • Worshiping the Deity with faith and veneration
Rama, Lakshmana, Sita & Hanuman
Raghunath Cappo in Kirtan during a Bhakti Retreat
It is said that even if a person who knows absolutely nothing of Vedic wisdom experiences kirtan, there is a possibility they can feel what it’s like to be a paramahamsa (a god-realized person). 
Ahimsa अहिंसा
Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence
It is one of the five yamas (restraints for “right-living”) that Maharishi Patañjali elaborates on in the Yoga Sutras. 
By merely living on earth, one is enforcing some form of violence towards other living beings. The practice of ahimsa implies one being able to see God in everything & worshiping him by trying not to enforce any sort of violence towards any of its infinite forms
Ahimsa is a practice that precedes asana (the postures commonly known as Yoga in the west). 
  • The yogic belief is that true success in Yogasana can only be attained if the Self is purified in thought, word, and deed through the self-restraint of ahimsa.
Yātrā यात्रा
Man Standing in front of a temple in India
Commonly translates to “pilgrimage”.
Raghunath explains the subtle & more explicit types of Yātrā:
  • One ideally makes time every day for spiritual focus (tends to be early in the morning & sometime in the afternoon/evening [e.g. meditation]). 
  • Throughout the month one can take one weekend or one day per week for spiritual focus.
  • In a season, one could go away for one entire weekend and have a full retreat devoted to spiritual focus. 
  • Within the year, one ideally goes at least once on a proper pilgrimage or Yātrā. It is here where one deeply and wholeheartedly dives into spiritual culture all day, every day & for an extended period of time. 
    • This is a very impactful opportunity that has paradigm-shifting effects on those who go ahead and do it.  
    • Raghunath organizes spiritual retreats every year to different places around the world
This is the ancient Indian way. There never were luxurious theme parks or all-inclusive hotels; one simply took their family to holy places.
  • Those experiences will forever be remembered by children & will leave a strong imprint on them.

Raising Devotee Children

The idea of creating “a new normal” for children. 
Teaching them from a very young age about spiritual life & the ways in which they should engage and commune with nature & everything that surrounds them. 

The 6 Pillars of Bhakti Yoga

6 pillars that one can apply to life, whether one is a spiritual person or not, that will have a deep impact in your life:

1. Do not criticize:
Criticism is us trying to correct the world, and it generally serves as a smoke-screen that we use to avoid working on our own problems. 
This doesn’t mean that we do not discern right from wrong, but simply that we do not take great pleasure in finding faults in other people. 
2. Be tolerant:
Instead of complaining, one is tolerant. 
The one who complains on a regular basis is signing a contract with itself to be miserable.
3. Take no offense:
To the degree that one is offended, one suffers. 
Not walking around with resentments. 
Being able to let go of past resentments from traumatic experiences or because of the feeling that “people are out to get me” which usually lead one to find offense where there is not. 
4. Be quick to apologize:
It's easy to forget our own shortcomings when we hurt other people & yet we get resentful when others hurt us. 
One should be very self-aware of one’s own shortcomings & be quick to apologize to others. 
5. See the good in others:
For some people it is very hard to see the good in others. That is a very diseased condition that only perpetuates suffering. 
See the good in others & let them know it. Tell them how you feel & why you appreciate them. 
This practice alone can change your whole life. 
6. Be grateful and keep a tally of your blessings:
Being aware of all the reasons for which one can and should be grateful is a very powerful tool to bring awareness and joy into your life. 
For those people who are suffering from mild depression, this can completely shift their perspective & pull them out of that unconscious state.
  • Advice: open up a note on your phone and write 20 reasons why you are blessed; read it every morning and add two more reasons to the list. Try to make that a morning practice. 

Resources

Wisdom of the Sages Podcast HERE

Ragunath’s website HERE

Ragunath's Instagram (@raghunathyogi) HERE


Support The Show

Please leave me a comment below (I love to read every single one).


SHARE

Spread the word! Tell your family, friends, neighbors and all your social mates.

Share this episode on Facebook / Share this episode on Twitter


Subscribe


Please seek advice from a qualified practitioner before starting any new health practice.


The Power of Hanuman: Accessing The Superman Within You

Illustration of Hanuman, a Vedic god

While I will share with you the beautiful mythological story of Hanuman, the deeper significance and intended outcomes you can experience from this tale will also be shared.

The Actual Purpose of Mythology

The Gods and Goddesses of Indian “Mythology” are symbols of states of consciousness. Usually states of higher and expanded consciousness which are told in a legendary format. The sequence of the story (legend) triggers a “eureka” experience. This connects oneself with the larger universe, usually experienced in an abstract fashion.

Myth is the story in the collective imagination that explains the infinite mystery of our existence.

Story Of Hanuman

It is told that as a child, Hanuman rose to the skies to catch the sun, thinking that it was a bright and delicious fruit, and wanted to eat it. He rose up to the skies in the direction of the sun to grab that substance and swallow it.

Indra, the ruler of the heavens, was startled at this adventure of a mortal trying to ascend to the heavens and grab the solar orb, so he gave such a blow on the chin of this little boy with his weapon called Vajra (disc) and Hanuman fell down unconscious.

Hanuman’s father, Vayu (wind god) got annoyed at this.

“My son has been treated so badly by these gods…I shall teach these fellows a lesson.” Vayu, the wind god, withdrew himself from all parts, and everyone stopped breathing. Nobody could breathe. There was suffocation and agony everywhere, and even the celestials ran to Brahma (the Creator): “There is some terrific suffering. This wind is very angry. Please go and give him blessing.”

Brahma then blessed Hanuman - “No weapon can hurt this child. Not even the five elements can harm him. Not even celestial missiles except my own Brahmastra can have any effect on him…he shall be invincible and no one can stand before him.”

Hanuman is the Aspect of Consciousness (in everyone and everything) which encompasses:

Cosmic Vayu (Air) manifests into Prana (Life-force)

Not just our physical prana but the prana of our mind and all the vibratory forces in the universe.

Vayu manifests as technological information (data, calculations, communications), light, or electrical force.

Cosmic Vayu links us to the cosmic mind that aligns all minds together in an interconnected network of thought. Hanuman is the most wise and observant. A master who decisively discriminates between the intellect (buddhi) and the inner intelligence (purusha) to reveal the highest truth.

This prana manifests when you connect to the unlimited potentials within us. 

Mastering the Dynamic Power of Yoga

Cosmic Vayu gives flexibility of body, unbounded vitality, stout-hearted will power, motivation and dynamic mind capacity.

Tapping into Hanuman consciousness grants certain yoga siddhis (dormant non-local potentials of perfected human-capabilities that exist in every consciousness). Capabilities like movement, extraordinary perceptivity and mastery of the senses and cosmic energies.

Our highest prana merges with immortal Prana. Dedicate ourselves as Hanuman to Rama, to offer our mortality or temporal existence to the immortal and infinite.

Cosmic Vayu Attunes One to Live in Harmony with Nature

Vayu governs the creation and equilibrium of nature and the universe as a whole.

As the wind blows, so the clouds move and rain.

Vayu moves the sun and moon, which govern the earth through gravity. Cosmic Vayu actually creates galaxies (through smoke clouds).

Hanuman is the conduit of the power of Rama: universal Self who orchestrates all nature. This is true bhakti (devotion).

Incredible Strength

Self-power (Atma Shakti) to realise our higher potential and accomplish what is supernatural and transformational. Fearlessness, self-confidence, daring and boldness to attempt the impossible and succeed.

Established in the field of transcendence, then we can playfully interact with all the energies across the vast layers of the universe.

Access your deeper cosmic energy and Become Hanuman.

Credits:

Bibliography: American Institute of Vedic Studies, David Frawley.
Feature photo: Art by MTM Nataraja
other art: unknown, but thank you.

Related Reading: The Power of Mother Divine and “Navaratri” and How to Access Its Regenerative Energy