A cult network of tantric yoga dismantled in France

On the morning of November 28, the French police carried out a major raid on the Atman yoga sect. Its members organized the trafficking of women to force them to sleep with their guru, who was a recluse in the Paris region. This Romanian master, Gregorian Bivolaru, has been arrested and faces up to thirty years in prison

Patrol car in the streets of Paris (illustrative image). On the morning of November 28, the French police carried out a major raid on the Atman yoga sect. AP - Francois Mori

By: Sébastien Farcis Follow


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On the morning of November 28, French police arrested the guru of a multinational tantric yoga company, the Atman Yoga Federation, in the Paris region, accused of indoctrinating female followers of his organization to sexually exploit them. According to our information, confirmed to Libération and RFI by the Paris prosecutor's office, Gregorian Bivolaru was arrested during a large-scale operation against his women's trafficking network. A total of 175 officers intervened simultaneously in Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Val-de-Marne and Alpes-Maritimes: 41 people were arrested.

The leader of this network, which operated under the guise of Tantra, Gregorian Bivolaru, a 71-year-old Romanian, was arrested in a residence in Ivry-sur-Seine, in the Val-de-Marne, where, according to victims' testimonies, he brought his followers for "sexual initiations" of tantric yoga. This guru, already convicted in Romania for rape of a minor and wanted by Interpol for trafficking in women, has been the subject of a judicial investigation since July 2023 for human trafficking, kidnapping in an organized gang, rape and abuse of weakness in an organized gang by members of a sect.

Gregorian Bivolaru is considered the "spiritual leader" of the Atman Yoga Federation, a galaxy of tantra present in 31 countries, including most European countries. In France, it operates through the association Yoga Intégral, present in Paris, Nice and Poitiers.

Dozens of women kidnapped

The first significant reports of these alleged crimes were made in July 2022, by twelve former followers, to Miviludes, the public body in charge of sectarian abuses. The investigation was then carried out by the OCRVP, the Central Office for the Repression of Violence against Persons, through its Assistance and Intervention Unit for Sectarian Abuses (Caimades), which specialises in the mental control of victims. And a judicial investigation was therefore opened by the Paris prosecutor's office in July 2023, based on the complaints of three people, among other things. According to the testimonies of three former victims of Gregorian Bivolaru, collected in recent weeks by RFI, a dozen women were regularly sequestered at the same time, for days, in several homes in the Paris region, in order to satisfy the sexual appetites of this Romanian guru. At the time of the arrest, according to our information, 26 women were on site in deplorable cramped and hygienic conditions.

Gregorian Bivolaru, called "Grieg" by his followers, founded the federation's original association in Romania, the Movement for Spiritual Integration in the Absolute, or Misa, in 1990, during the cultural renaissance that followed the fall of dictator Ceausescu. A cult of personality of this "guru" is then established in Misa, including orgies in his honor. At the same time, the Romanian authorities accused Gregorian Bivolaru of human trafficking and tax evasion, which drove him into exile. He was granted political asylum in Sweden in 2005, as well as a new identity, under the surname of Magnus Aurolsson. Two Danish members of the European Parliament have defended Gregorian Bivolaru before the European courts, saying that the prosecution was political and that the Romanian judiciary was not independent. Ulla Sandbaek, a member of the European Parliament until 2004 and a member of the Danish Parliament until 2019, has been a regular follower in the Danish branch of the federation, Natha. In an interview aired a decade ago by a Misa channel, she maintained that Gregorian Bivolaru was "a man of god who works for the benefit of humanity." Ulla Sandbaek did not respond to requests for comment.

Guru wanted by Interpol

The association and its teachers had been excluded from international and European yoga federations in 2008 for these "pornographic" activities. The Atman federation, for its part, claims that the Romanian secret services tortured followers to testify against their founder, and refutes all the accusations. However, Gregorian Bivolaru was sentenced to six years in prison in Romania for rape of a minor, and extradited from France in 2016. He spent only a year in detention, before returning to Scandinavia. Where new proceedings have been filed against him.

Six Finnish followers have filed a complaint against Gregorian Bivolaru for human trafficking, and Helsinki issued an international search warrant by Interpol in 2017. Since then, Gregorian Bivolaru has continued to water his followers with tantric preaching, reclusive from Paris or the Paris region. According to testimonies from former followers, members of Atman's associations were pressured to work for free in strip clubs, massage parlors, or to make commercial pornographic films in Romania, Hungary, and the Czech Republic - multiple forms of prostitution that would allow the movement to finance itself. Some members also donate a portion of their salaries to the organization, or have made large donations to build new ashrams.

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