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France: Romanian yoga guru Gregorian Bivolaru, 40 others arrested in sexual exploitation charges, the ‘porno-yoga’ promoter aimed to have sex with 1,000 virgins

Gregorian Bivolaru had started Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA) that promoted "erotic tantric yoga", and is accused of sexually exploiting woman

A 71-year-old yoga guru from Romania named Gregorian Bivolaru and forty of his followers were apprehended by the French police during an early-morning raid on 28 November. The leader and members of the tantric yoga organisation were caught on allegations of brainwashing female adherents for the purpose of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Gregorian Bivolaru is a citizen of both Romania and Sweden.

The name of the sect is Atman Yoga Federation which is also known as the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA). Its self-styled spiritual leader Gregorian Bivolaru was taken into custody at a residence in Ivry-sur-Seine, close to Paris. He is a well-known author and yoga instructor throughout the world. With its main office located in England, the Atman Federation offers yoga classes and teacher training.

The massive operation involved 175 police officers and resulted in the release of 26 women some of whom had complained they were being detained against their will. According to one account, the women had been “kept in deplorable conditions” which were cramped and dirty. The action transpired in Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne and the Alpes-Maritimes.

According to a French official, an inquiry into him and the yoga federation was started after claims of psychological manipulation and sexual abuse within the organisation had appeared. Former members of the group reportedly told authorities about the offences. French officials have charged the accused with human trafficking, organised kidnapping, rape and systematic abuse of frailty by cult members.

On behalf of Finnish authorities, Gregorian Bivolaru was wanted for suspected aggravated human trafficking. The international police organisation Interpol had also issued a notice for his arrest. However, his websites and those of the Atman Federation alleged that he is the target of a vast conspiracy aimed at undermining him.

This photo shows the red notice of Gregorian Bipolar on the Interpol website.

Prosecutors in France started looking into the group in the summer on charges of kidnapping, rape, and human trafficking. People were allegedly forced to engage in sexual activity and give pornographic performances. The operation went after multiple places that the group allegedly used to indoctrinate and force women into engaging in sexual activities. According to French authorities, the places were called “ashrams” and housed women chosen by Gregorian Bivolaru to receive initiation into tantric yoga.

A judicial source unveiled, “The aim of the yoga training courses was to get people to take part in sexual and/or physical activities in conditions that made it possible at that stage to characterise the offence of trafficking in human beings.”

Shocking origins of Gregorian Bivolaru and his outfit

In 2013, Gregorian Bivolaru was found guilty of having sex with a minor in Romania. He was living in France at the time and in 2016 he was extradited back to his native nation. However, in 2017, he escaped from Romania after being granted a conditional release. When he began teaching yoga in 1978, the practice was still forbidden in his country due to the communist government.

He started his dark cult in the 1990s and promoted “erotic tantric yoga” to expand his followers outside of the nation. Since then, MISA has established schools under various names in nearly 30 countries. The institutions are called Satya in India, Tara in the United States and the United Kingdom and Natha in Denmark and Portugal.

He wrote about achieving “a whole series of psycho-mental accomplishments that are generally considered paranormal” as a teenager in a book about tantric yoga that was published in 2010. However, there have been disputes surrounding the movement in the past. The cult was implicated in “porno-yoga” incidents in Argentina and India in 2011, while the group was accused of sexual slavery in Italy in 2012.

He started his cult in 30 countries, promoting erotic tantric yoga.
Gregorian Bivolaru opened his cult in 30 countries, promoting erotic tantric yoga. (Source: Europics)

He coerced his supporters into having group intercourse with him and giving him significant sums of money. Agnes Arabela Marques, one of the victims, dated the guru when she was only a 15-year-old. She disclosed, “Bivolaru claimed that, if I had sex with him as a yoga master, I could achieve superior levels of tantric spirituality. In his apartment, there were constantly girls that were there to have sex with him.” She further mentioned that he had faith in an Indian legend that declared he might become extremely spiritual if he had sex with 1,000 virgins.

Finnish human rights activist Seppo Isotalo spent nearly two years trying to support MISA throughout its trial. He revealed his 2007 covert meeting with the movement’s guru to a Finnish media MOT. “It was a most peculiar occasion, first we had to sit down and wait for him for several hours. And when he showed up, the people in the room jumped to kiss his feet. I didn’t.”

Isotalo asserted that the self-proclaimed guru sent women to Japan to dance at striptease clubs for financial gain. The most devout adherents reside in spiritual communities called ashrams. One of them was situated on a farm owned by Kim Schmock, a Danish yoga practitioner.

The activist admitted in an MOT interview that he didn’t immediately realise something wasn’t right and claimed that the group grew progressively more domineering once he became a part of it. “All the expectations they have, ‘You have to do this, you have to do that’ and suddenly you don’t have time for your friends, you don’t have time for your family. They will be your family and actually, when you realize this, it’s often too late.”

Seppo Isotalo noted that since MISA members wouldn’t leave his home, he was forced to move out of his house and into a trailer near the farm. He was left bankrupt since he had to keep making the farm’s mortgage payments. Additionally, he discussed the strange and “very erotic” rites that the cult would carry out. “They have this annual event in the summertime where they have this Miss Shakti (power) contest, and it’s very erotic and this is part of the tantra.”

Masturbation in front of cameras is a feature of the Miss Shakti competition at MISA, an annual summer camp, according to the Finnish media MOT. Each participant must submit two pictures of themselves in a bikini or swimming trunks in order to be admitted to the program. Participants also must undergo syphilis and HIV tests, indicating sexual activities in the events.

Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute

MISA calls itself the “largest yoga school in Romania and in Europe” and operates other purported “yoga schools.” According to the French police, there are “several hundred” members. The group describes itself on its website as using “a traditional rigorous approach of the yoga system,” which includes “erotic postures” and “amorous energy control techniques” from tantra yoga to assist practitioners “on the way to ecstasy.”

“Extraterrestrial civilizations” are mentioned on the website as well. However, because of alleged “illicit” practices, the International Yoga Federation and the European Yoga Alliance declared in 2008 that they could no longer accept the group as a member. Gregorian Bivolaru has already drawn the notice of French authorities as well as those in his home nations.

Mental manipulation

The human rights organisation La Ligue des droits de l’Homme announced in July that it had obtained statements from twelve former MISA members, prompting the first round of investigations into the claims.

The case was turned over to and overseen by the OCRVP (Office central pour la répression des violences aux personnes, or central office for the repression of violence towards people) and the Miviludes (Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires, interministerial mission for the alerting and fighting against cults).

The accusations originated from multiple women who stated that in order to “pay for their stay” they were coerced into having sex with Gregorian Bivolaru and “to agree to participate in fee-paying pornographic practices in France and abroad.” According to the victims, he would frequently invite ladies to his home for “sexual initiation” through tantric yoga.

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