Experts in Human Rights, Sociology and Religious Movements

ATMAN – The International Federation of Yoga and Meditation is a non-profit organization, providing courses on various branches of yoga and spirituality. The Federation has several member schools worldwide, providing teaching materials and training for the teachers.

Eminent Yoga Teacher Gregorian Bivolaru is the author of the Integral Esoteric Yoga Course, and the co-author of the Esoteric Tantra Yoga Course, as they are taught in the member schools of the ATMAN Federation.

Mr. Bivolaru and the yoga school he founded, MISA (the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute), have been and still are target of great defamations and severe abuses of human rights since the beginning of his activity in Romania.

While the mass media in Romania, and later on also in other countries, has contributed immensely, through their superficial journalism, to the unjust persecutions, the sincere and professional evaluations of unbiased experts like Massimo Introvigne, Willy Fautre, Eileen Barker, Karl Erik Nylund, J. Gordon Melton and Gabriel Andreescu, show a very different picture, unfortunately little known.

We present in the following an edifying collection of expert materials about MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru, that are relevant as well for the Atman Federation that is offering these teachings.

Spectacular simultaneous SWAT raids on Romanian yoga centers in France: Fact checking

Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF), human rights advocate at the UN, the European Parliament and the OSCE, and member of the Press Club in Brussels fact-checks the media coverage of the French media, which was afterwards copy-paste published in worldwide press of the simultaneous SWAT raids on Romanian yoga centers in France in November 2023. His findings include two common points of all these articles, which are highly concerning in ethical standards of journalism:

“First, the authors failed to meet and interview the yoga practitioners who were arrested and detained for questioning (“garde à vue”) for up to 48 hours. Second, they echoed gossip and unproven assertions, which is not journalism and disfigures the noble image of journalism.”

The Police Raids Against MISA in France, November 28, 2023

Well-known Canadian scholar and Affiliate Professor in the Religions and Cultures Department at Concordia University in Montreal, Susan J. Palmer, took a closer look at the police raids in France on November 28, 2023.

While the authorities and mass media claim “women” have been “liberated” from a “sex cult,” Professor Palmer met and interviewed the “victims” and was told a very different story. In this series of articles, she presents some of her findings that raise serious questions about the methods, purpose, background and even legitimacy of these brutal actions by the French police.

1. Conflicting Narratives

2. MISA Students Tell Their Stories
When the heavily armed officers entered the residences of the yogis, they terrorized everybody: alleged perpetrators and alleged “victims.”

3. The Yogis’ Complaints About the Police
The story they told a leading Canadian scholar is that in the police stations, the yoga students’ rights were repeatedly violated.

4. The MIVILUDES Behind the Raids
To understand what happened to MISA it is crucial to reflect on the anti-cult role of the controversial governmental agency.

5. The Anti-Cult Ideology in France
France is unique among democratic countries in promoting a state-sponsored anti-cult ideology, based on discredited theories of “brainwashing” and “mind control.”


Please find Professor Palmer’s full report published in the academic Journal of CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions) here:

Release of new interview of Prof. Massimo Introvigne by Soteria International: 
“Abuse of Weakness” or “Brainwashing” – Does It Really Exist?

In December 2023, the French parliament debated to reintroduce or not the controversial law of mental manipulation. This law has a history in France.

In France, as prof Massimo Introvigne wrote in his article “France Plans to Make a Bad Law Worse – the anti-cult About-Picard law is ineffective against real abuses and dangerous for religious liberty. The government wants to make it even more dangerous.” the situation of spiritual communities becomes increasingly difficult.

Considering the similarities and repetition of the police raids upon spiritual communities, in different countries, a certain question is rising: are NRM – New Religious Movements or spiritual communities in danger? Their struggle in the current antagonistic climate of state and mass media is reaching higher levels.

It is necessary to open up to see the comprehensive perspective offered through academic studies, to understand that people who join spiritual movements are normal people, merely having their particular beliefs or practices. And as long as they respect the laws of their country they should enjoy freedom, respect and social protection, just like any other citizen. Yet the repetitive police raids and their scandalous presentation in mass media tell a different story…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

SOTERIA International sustains a deeper understanding and a broader perspective on the freedom of conscience and belief and aims towards acknowledgement that spirituality cannot be regarded as a separate practice, but is rather integrated in all individual and social activities. People and Organisation with sincere spiritual intentions should enjoy the same respect and social protection as traditional religious practices.

Interview of Mădălina Dumitru by Massimo Introvigne: She speaks out on MISA, Gregorian Bivolaru, her book and that she has been offered € 350,000 to change her story

In the Interview Ms. Dumitru highlighted that she was compelled by the police and the prosecutor under duress to sign a false statement that she had a sexual relationship with the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru after having been physically abused and threatened by the Romanian authorities. Even though she revoked the statement the next day, it became the “only evidence the prosecutors had” for the unjust conviction of Mr. Bivolaru.

Bivolaru has spent his time in jail on the false charge of having had in 2004 a sexual relationship with me. This case has now ended.” And she points out that, he and several MISA leaders have also been found not guilty of the equally false charges of human trafficking, by final decisions. Further, Ms. Dumitru underlines that she was never abused by MISA, “where I was always treated kindly and respectfully. [However,] I was abused by the police, during and after the 2004 raid. I was abused by the prosecutors. And I have been abused by the media to this very day.”

Recently she was contacted by an English-speaking man. He offered her money if she would now change her story and confirm the accusations against Bivolaru and MISA. He kept increasing the amount up to Euro 350,000. “I was proposed a pact with the devil. He said he was part of a team fighting against MISA, that they have interviewed ex-students, and that if I would not cooperate I would pay the price.”

A new review in the academic journal “The Polish Journal of the Arts and Culture” of the book “Sacred Eroticism: Tantra and Eros in the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA)” by Massimo Introvigne

“One of the most interesting features of the [teachings by Gregorian Bivolaru] is the dissociation of lovemaking from sex, so Pure Eros, that is erotic energy, from sexual energy. […] It is a paradox, as Introvigne underlines, that MISA ‘is often described by outsiders as a ‘sex magic movement,’ when, in fact, it teaches that ‘intimate relationships of any kind that have a sexual orientation are completely forbidden’”

Besides, Kotkowska points out that the whole MISA case is grasped multidimensionally and includes optics from many different perspectives and declares the book a must-read for anyone interested in New Religious Movements, religiosity and eroticism and, more broadly, for all those intrigued by contemporary religious phenomena.

By Karolina Maria Kotkowska, The Polish Journal of the Arts and Culture. New Series 17 (1/2023): 177–181

New review of Massimo Introvigne about the book “The Broken Flight” by Mădălina Dumitru

In “The Broken Flight” Mădălina Dumitru tells how her life has been ruined by those who tried to use her against the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru and MISA. She decided to speak about the nightmare that the authorities forced her through and lead to the Mr. Bivolaru’s unjust conviction.

Massimo Introvigne points out that “having heard the testimony of Mădălina and concluded that her story was eminently believable, [the] Swedish Supreme Court determined that Bivolaru’s prosecution in Romania was politically motivated and he deserved asylum in Sweden.

Furthermore, Professor Introvigne validates, that the horrific details of her story have been confirmed through decisions taken by by courts of law (European Court of Human Rights, the Supreme Court of Sweden, and an appellate court in Romania).

By Massimo Introvigne in Bitter Winter, a Magazine on Religious Liberty and Human Rights, 24 February 2024

Link to the book:

New Article Series by Massimo Introvigne: “Behind the Bivolaru Case.”

Some significant observations from an independent expert in the field, professor of sociology Massimo Introvigne, opens a fresh perspective on the political mechanisms behind the French case against the Eminent Yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru.


“Part 1. Some Incorrect Reports About MISA’s Past History – After the arrest of the Romanian yoga teacher in France, the same fake news about his and MISA’s past were reproduced from one media to another.”


“Part 2. GéPS, the Strange Origins of a French Anti-Cult Group – Few had heard of a new anti-cult association that claimed credit for the arrest of the MISA founder in France. The story of its founder Hughes Gascan is not without interest.”


“Part 3. Enter the MIVILUDES – The French anti-cult governmental agency played a crucial role in persuading those who were against other Tantric groups that they should focus on MISA.”


“Part 4. GéPS Versus MISA – How Gascan and his friends framed Gregorian Bivolaru looks like a fairy tale. But behind any fairy tale lies a truth.”

Review of the book “Sacred Eroticism: Tantra and Eros in the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA)” by Massimo Introvigne

The dramatic history and the teachings of the movement are highlighted in the first monograph consecrated to it.

Swedish expert, Karl Erik Nylund’s report on MISA and Gregorian Bivolaru

Nylund’s report was one of the main defense evidence in the extradition trial ruled on by the Supreme Court in Stockholm on October 12th 2005, which decided finally and irreversibly to decline Romania’s extradition request. Nylund has clearly proven with his investigations that MISA is not a radical religious group, nor a manipulative sect.

The Swedish Asylum Case of Gregorian Bivolaru, 2005

When Gregorian Bivolaru was granted asylum in 2005, an important precedent was established by the Supreme Court of Sweden, by underlining that leaders of spiritual movements accused of common crimes not directly related to religion cannot expect a fair trial in countries where an obvious prejudice against their religious beliefs and practices exist.

by Rosita Šorytė FOB (European Federation for Freedom of Belief). The Journal of CESNUR, Volume 6, Issue 4, July—August 2022, pages 62—74. © 2022 by CESNUR

Soteria webinar about Human Rights in the MISA case

This webinar discusses the human rights violations, institutional discrimination, social and media marginalization on MISA yoga students and the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru.

An event organized by Soteria International, Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) and Human Rights Without Frontiers (HRWF) on MISA (Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute). With Camelia Marin – Massimo Introvigne – Willy Fautré –Gordon Melton – Alessandro Amicarelli – Rosita Sorite – Konrad Swenninger – Mihai Stoian (Advaitananda) – Eileen Barker

Recent article from Massimo Introvigne about Netflix – a threat to religious liberty

‘Sensational TV series about religious leaders sentenced for sexual abuse are broadcast without considering that they wreak havoc in the lives of their innocent followers.’

“Sacred Sexuality within Contemporary Esoteric Groups. From Early 20th Century Origins to MISA”

Academic analysis of Massimo Introvigne, sociologist of religion and intellectual property attorney. MISA, founded by Gregorian Bivolaru is the largest group teaching sacred eroticism today. One of the reasons of the scandals that were launched against it and its founder is the association between spirituality and eroticism, thus challenging general worldviews. In reality, the courses on love, eroticism and sexuality represent a very small part of the teachings of the school.

25 May 2018, Houston by Massimo Introvigne:

“The Radical Aesthetics of the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA)” – Krakow University Journal

An in-depth analysis pointing out the radical aesthetics directions of MISA in the context of a larger aesthetic revolution.

including the presentation of Massimo Introvigne, Raffaella Di Mazio, PierLuigi Zoccatelli:

Article “Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute”

A thorough and precise timeline and presentation of MISA and its founder, Gregorian Bivolaru made by Massimo Introvigne.

Published on 1 June 2017 in the World Religions & Spirituality Project (WRSP) – which was established in 2010 at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Introduction: The Radical Aesthetics of a Romanian Esoteric Movement

This issue of The Journal of CESNUR explores the history, doctrines, and controversies of MISA, arguing that its teachings cannot be reduced to a doctrine of sexuality only and propose a “radical aesthetics” that also explains the reactions by both its religious and secular opponents. 

by Massimo Introvigne,  – A paper presented at Erfurt conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) July 2017 and also published in The Journal of CESNUR, vol. 1, n. 1, September-October 2017, pp. 3-9.

Sex, Erotic Art, and the Repression of Alternative Movements: The Strange Case of an Esoteric Movie Director

The movies and shows created by a group of artists which are students of MISA were not made to generate significant income, nor as a recruitment tool. They have an educational role, expressing their own personal beliefs and beneficial experiences as a result of tantra yoga practice.

by Massimo Introvigne, A paper presented at Erfurt conference of the European Society for the Study of Western Esotericism (ESSWE) July 2017 and published in The Journal of CESNUR, vol. 1, n. 1, September-October 2017, pp. 32-42.

Yoga in the Courts: the Legal Battles about MISA

Analysis of the abuses that were made in the legal cases related to Gregorian Bivolaru and MISA.

by Gabriel Andreescu. See also the Presentation- A paper presented at “The 2016 International Conference”, Pocheon City, Republic of Korea, 5-10 July 2016

The Movement for the Spiritual Integration into the Absolute. Facets of an identity: minority of conscience, minority of sexual practice, and minority born of repression

Gabriel Andreescu proposes that, taking in consideration the discrimination and harassment done upon MISA, it should receive protection as a minority group.

by Gabriel Andreescu – A paper presented at “CESNUR 2013 Conference”, Falun, Sweden, 21-24 June 2013

MISA, an Overview

In this overview, Massimo Introvigne points out the common deformation and misinterpretation of truth that are constantly made in the case of MISA.

by Massimo Introvigne – A material (PPT) presented at “The 2016 International Conference”, Pocheon City, Republic of Korea, 5-10 July 2016

MISA, Gregorian Bivolaru & Yoga Practitioners in Romania

Willy Fautré, director of Human Rights Without Frontiers International (Brussels), speaks about how the long judicial harassment of Gregorian Bivolaru on numerous charges, the questionable proceedings and the conduct of many Romanian media outlets are a matter of grave concern for HRWF Int’l. The persecutions faced by MISA yoga practitioners for over 20 years have been amplified by an escalating social panic on television, on the radio and in the printed press.

by Willy Fautre (Human Rights Without Frontiers) Brussels, June 2013

Discourse analysis of the public communication campaigns about the Yoga Teacher Gregorian Bivolaru

The case of the Romanian Yoga movement and its founder, the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru, is well known for the human rights activists and organizations, especially in Europe. The media was used as a manipulation element and an instrument of repression, since it covered abuses and made use of hate speech in order to justify persecution of a large group of members of this yoga movement.

By Mugurel Calistrat Atudorei , Konrad Swenninger, World Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities. 2018, 4(1), 20-60. DOI: 10.12691/wjssh-4-1-3, Published online: July 16, 2018

Esotericism, Deviance, and Repression: An Introduction to the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA)

This paper examines the history and worldview of MISA, the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA), founded in 1990 by Romanian esoteric yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru. Although the roots of the movement are in Siddha Yoga of Tamil Nadu and Tantric Shivaism of Kashmir, Bivolaru has in fact created a new and creative form of both theoretical and practical esotericism, with Indian roots as well as Western influences.

By PierLuigi Zoccatelli, Deputy Director at CESNUR (Center for Studies on New Religions), Pontifical Salesian University, The Journal of CESNUR, Volume 1, Issue 1, September-October 2017, pp. 10-19

MISA, the Anti-Cult Movement and the Courts: The Legal Repression of an Esoteric Movement

The article raises the question of how an anti-esoteric prejudice may have influenced MISA legal cases and their outcome. In this respect, the paper examines three possible explanations of the extreme anti-MISA feelings prevailing among sectors of the Romanian police and media, related respectively to the Romanian context, the campaigns against “cults,” and esotericism.

by Raffaella Di Marzio (Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion Belief and Conscience), The Journal of CESNUR | 2017, pp. 20—31

The Effect of the Persistent Media Campaign on the Public Perception – MISA & Gregorian Bivolaru Case Study

This paper presents a case study about the effects of the mass media in shaping public perception. In the case of the Romanian yoga movement and the yoga teacher Gregorian Bivolaru, more than 25 years of media campaigns of defamation and hate speech have a measurable effect on the public perception, as the mediated image was based on false accusations and repetitive stereotypes. The negative framing and associations of the news about MISA Yoga School had led to the marginalization and discrimination of the yoga practitioners, who are now one of the most discriminated categories of Romanian citizens.

World Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 2016, Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 29-36

The Religious Background of the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute

This article shows that portraying the Movement for Spiritual Integration into the Absolute (MISA) as an unprecedented phenomenon, due to its integration of sacred eroticism into a religious worldview, is actually not correct. This integration has precedents in Taoism, Tantrism, and Western Esotericism. Several Western esoteric schools were influenced by Eastern traditions of sacred eroticism, but they also developed their own distinctive paths. MISA’s primary reference to Tantrism is Tamil Nadu’s Siddha Yoga, which places it within a larger tradition.

by J. Gordon Melton (Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion), The Journal of CESNUR | 2017, pp. 43—60