Yoga Sect Scandal: French Guru Jailed for Sexual Violence

The guru of an international yoga movement was indicted Friday evening in Paris, France, and imprisoned, in a vast case of sexual violence. Other members of the sect were also charged.

In addition to the 71-year-old guru, Gregorian Bivolaru, of Romanian and Swedish nationality, fourteen people have been or must be presented to an investigating judge with a view to their indictment in this sprawling case, which required the intervention of 175 police officers to carry out around forty arrests on Tuesday.

Gregorian Bivolaru, well known in Romania and who founded the first yoga school in the then communist country in 1970, is the founding figure of the movement for spiritual integration towards the absolute (MISA). This ancient group, renamed Atman during its expansion outside Romania, presents itself as focused on the practice of tantric yoga.

He was arrested on Tuesday at his home, while he was there with two young Romanian women and another man. While in police custody, he denied his role as leader, but claimed to be ‘endowed with extraordinary gifts’ and the ‘victim of a political conspiracy’, a police source told AFP.


He introduced himself as ‘a spiritual master’. After a so-called ‘consecration’ stage, women ‘loved’ him at his home, according to the police source who reported his remarks.

This is a ‘conditioning of victims to accept sexual relations via mental manipulation techniques aimed at removing any notion of consent’, analyzed a judicial source. The movement would also have encouraged women to ‘engage in paid pornographic practices in France and abroad’, according to a source close to the investigation.

Among those accused are also women. One of them, ‘who behaved like a boss’ according to the police source, was arrested in a ‘women’s pavilion’ in Villiers-sur-Marne, south of Paris. While in police custody, she designated six other ‘coordinators’ of ‘ashrams’ in the Paris region.

Six of the twenty women living in this pavilion told investigators that they had arrived between September and November in France for ‘a yoga course’ or ‘a course on feminism’. Two said they were photographed naked upon arrival. They have not filed a complaint yet. At this stage, investigators have identified 56 female potential victims.

A woman presenting herself as a victim told AFP, on condition of anonymity, of having been subjected to sex trafficking ‘several times’ ‘from the United Kingdom to Paris’. ‘Many people consider this organization as a yoga school […] without knowing that it is a dangerous sect,’ she stressed, estimating the number of victims at ‘thousands of women ‘.

Its founder, prosecuted in his country on several occasions and sentenced to six years of imprisonment, fled and obtained political asylum in Sweden at the beginning of 2006 as well as a new name: Magnus Aurolsson.

This article is originally published on

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.