Photo: Rev. Saraswati with her Guru at the LOTUS, Yogaville, Virginia.

Born in 1947, Rev. Saraswati was a graduate of American University in Washington D.C. After graduation she worked in an interior design firm and architectural companies in New York city and in New Jersey and even worked as a professional clown for some time. She peacefully transitioned in April 2024 after bravely battling dementia.

Rev. Saraswati first met her Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, in the early 1970s and moved into Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville East in Pomfret Center soon after. She was one of the first disciples to receive pre-Sannyas diksha. After some time, she realized she was more drawn to the householder path and she married Bhishman Neumann and they had two beautiful sons.

Their family were some of the first householders to move to Yogaville Virginia. As Radha McChristy recalled, “Rev. Saraswati played a pioneering role in developing Yogaville Virginia. Swami Satchidananda personally asked her to come down from Yogaville East in very early 1980 to live in the only physical structure there. Only a handful of people were there at the time. This photo is of a planning meeting that year, and yes, clearly a serious one. Many people don’t realize her powerful role in building what so many now enjoy.

“Every time Gurudev came to visit the Ashram, prior to moving from Connecticut to Virginia, Saraswati and her family gave up their own room in the brick house where we all lived. I had been cooking for everyone, and Gurudev asked her to come down to help me after first child, Jyoti, was born in that house. Jyoti and Saraswati had a powerful lifetime connection.”

Photo: Planning meeting for building Yogaville, Virginia, 1980. Rev. Saraswati, center, in white.

Rev. Saraswati, one of the first members of the Integral Yoga Ministry, was multi-talented: she offered her artistic services to the Ashram, she led kirtans for many years, and she served as a main driving force of the Ashram’s “Christmas in Buckingham,” the annual food and gift-giving offered to the underserved in Buckingham. She served in Shakticom, the audio-video department of the Ashram where she helped record and preserve the many hours of programs such as weekly satsangs given by Swami Satchidananda. She was also an avid gardener, which brought her much joy.

Radha added, “I greatly admired her. Her staying power was off-the-charts remarkable, as was her humility. Her contributions were countless. Many have come and gone but she was a perfect example of dedication to the vision of Yogaville. She was an incredible soul to whom all friends of Yogaville are indebted.”

Our thanks to Rev. Mala Cunningham who organized a prayer circle as well as organized other support in Rev. Saraswati’s final days. Gratitude to all who delivered food and supported Rev. Saraswati in her transition and supported Prasad, who loving cared and lived with his mom for the last years . His loving dedication to her remains an inspiration.