The inhumane treatment of yogis in Bucharest ashrams
I’ve received the text below through e-mail, after I was first being contacted by a group of people in MISA ashrams in Bucharest, who told me that they would send it. The people concerned asked me not to let their names be known so they wouldn’t get in trouble with the people leading MISA and Romanian ashrams at this time.
According to their claims, the purpose of this text is not to denigrate, but to sensitized and warn those responsible (including Gregorian Bivolaru) about the difficulties and issues that yoga practitioners in Bucharest ashrams are faced with.
Some of them are so exasperated by the problems they have that they asked me to announce that if, even after this warning text is released, the situation of the Bucharest ashram dweller fails to improve, they are ready to speak out publicly about everything they know and even to testify in legal inquiries – for all the baseness with which they were treated in the ashram.
The text itself:
We are a group of MISA yogis who chose to dedicate themselves to spiritual practice and to become integrated in Bucharest ashrams. Many of us reached this decision after it was suggested by Grieg [n. Gregorian Bivolaru] very many years ago, being next to him and our other colleagues during many important moments of this yoga school. We have chosen to turn our backs to a world that only offered material satisfactions, from the desire to evolve spiritually and to become centers of divine light in a world that sank in the darkness of an era of ignorance and confusion (Kali Yuga).
We have endured in hostile conditions in the establishments of our yoga school, faced with all types of shortages and deprivations, animated only by the promise of exceptional spiritual achievements, which for many of us cease to appear.
We have built, bare-handed, with shovels and buckets, tens of buildings, of yoga halls and dwelling places, without any demands or thoughts of reward for our dedicated work, filled with aspiration towards God, without realizing that what we built around us was a prison, “spiritually” dominated work camps, governed by draconian rules that grew in number and absurdity.
When we became tired, we were animated by the thought of exceptional achievements, of sudden growth through accumulated effort, of the transformations our yoga school would bring to the entire planet, through the revelations that our spiritual master would make to the world.
All of these fail to appear. All that we have left are the exceptional states and experiences we feel after spiritual exemplifications and a certain spiritual integration, a certain glow of consciousness specific to the one integrated in the ashram. Paradoxically, however, these positive aspects coexist with some concrete everyday things which are truly malefic.
There is theft in the ashram. People falsely swear on the Bible in the ashram. And, especially, people LIE everywhere. Lies have become the supreme Truth, especially for those who lead us. We are given small lies or big lies, according to need or interest and there’s always a reasonable excuse for them when the truth is discovered. Today, the ordinary ashram dweller is used, deceived and robbed by those who lead MISA. The one living in the ashram works for free, without medical insurance, without a right to retirement benefits, without being given the minimal social or medical protection he might need, being fed with low quality food of insufficient quantity. The one living in the ashram receives as food: – as breakfast, half a pack of butter per week (if the week isn’t complete, the person receives no breakfast, not even the half a pack of butter); for lunch, a small bread as tiny as the palm (sometimes moldy!), a plateful of soup (fixed serving!), a ladle of boiled potatoes; for dinner, a tiny pie smaller than small pastries, or a mug of stewed fruit and two crackers with chocolate cream in the middle (fixed servings again!).
The MISA leadership decided that the person who lives in the ashram needs to pay: the tax on buildings, maintenance costs (electricity, water, sewage, heat, garbage payments, gas) – which are usually unjustifiably large (especially during the summer – when heating isn’t necessary), and all these when in the majority of ashrams you live worse than during Ceaușescu’s time [n. during the communist regime]: in some ashrams we only have power for 3 hours, and then only during the night (for reasons of saving money – although we supposedly pay gigantic bills). Some people in the ashram must pay 250 lei [n. around 60 euros] per month for maintenance (during the summer!), they must pay their yoga courses (80 lei per month! [n. about 20 euros]) and to buy clothing, food (because what they receive isn’t enough) and medicine, if they’re sick. How are they supposed to get that, if they don’t work outside of the ashram, because they don’t have the time? Because you must do your daily karma yoga [n. unpaid labor, done as a gift to the community and to God] (between 6 and 8 hours a day), plus the 15 hours in the printing house – which is still better than those 49 hours that were the norm last year before the Costinești camp. Foreigners are better off, because they have money and usually their norm for karma yoga isn’t over 5 hours per day. In the printing house you work in inhumane conditions (heat, filth), permanently humiliated and treated like a slave by the employees, and the hours you didn’t put in are doubled, the sanction being that you’re not allowed to go on vacation. To all of that is added the OBLIGATION (for the ordinary person living in the ashram it comes 3 or 4 times per month, without being allowed to be later than 20 minutes – which would count as an absence) to participate in pro-MISA meetings, where you’re obligated to cry out different slogans and to hold all sorts of placards you ceased believing in long ago. Obviously, you don’t get any money for (and nobody cares) the bus or subway fare you need to pay to get to the meeting (some people were “advised” to consecrate the trip to God… and to take the bus or tram without paying the fare [n. there’s obviously a chance of getting caught and needing to pay a fine]). At the meeting, you wait 4-5 hours underneath the blazing sun (summer) or in the freezing cold (winter) without the “organizers” giving you a glass of water (summer) or warm tea (winter), or even a pretzel – to have the strength to cry out.
You must also participate in weekly ashram meetings, where they make activity lists (meeting participants) and other activities. In these meetings, which rival the interminable party meetings of the Communist Party, which sometimes last until late at night, you pay policies, those who protest are morally lynched in public (the famous self-critique) and those who have the courage of their own opinion receive punishment. If you’re late or missing, you are punished with extra work hours in the printing house. Lately, in some ashrams and even in yoga halls they’ve (discreetly!) installed surveillance cameras which record everybody there.
Slowly, MISA has become a closed totalitary system, absurd and impossible, where people are exploited and the only “spiritual” race has remained the one in enduring all sorts of privations, but also abuse from ashram leaders, who are directly supported by Gregorian Bivolaru and use his authority in front of us.
Hunger and privation have eaten away our colleagues’ consciousness. Food is stolen from the fridge, FROM HUNGER. Leaders and those who keep track of attendance lists are bribed. If you have money (and not a lot!), you do well in the ashram. You can pay your hours of karma yoga and printing house, we don’t have long until we end up paying our colleagues to do our nauli kriya for us (and to consecrate the results of that to us), so we can manage to do our daily yoga practice.
All of these show a life lived in falseness, fear, lies and hypocrisy.
When did those who lead us become so INHUMAN?! What do they want? We are told we’re free to leave whenever we want if we don’t like it, but we can’t leave the ashram at night without a note of permission from Neacşu Cristian (who is in charge of all the ashrams in Bucharest) and we can’t leave Bucharest even for an hour without his permission.
When they made plans for all of your time, when and how can you earn money to pay all the expenses imposed on you, where can you find the money to buy clothes, shoes, food, toothpaste, toilet paper, tampons, phonecards or subway fares? Never mind having a lover and wanting to buy a gift!
Moreover, some were thrown out just because they tried to find a job to buy their own food! But they accept it if you work for two dimes for Steaua Divină (6 or 8 hours a day), without papers attesting to it, or with papers saying you worked far less than you really do, for wages of 250 lei a month [n. about 60 euros], which are enough to pay your maintenance expenses!
Sometimes they do accept it if you work even if you live in the ashram, but only “in exceptional cases”, if it’s a good job, but then you’re obligated to donate half of your salary to MISA, and obviously you spend the other half paying your ashram expenses…
That’s not the case for the women in the ashram. The young and beautiful ones end up (because of poverty, privation and pressure) to go work either in erotic chat studios, or in strip clubs, as pole dancers. ALL the money go to MISA, because they work for karma yoga and they receive only 1% of what they earn. Even so, the women no longer want to work for you, and you came up with stories that say the good aliens inspired you to create Miss Shakti competitions, from where you recruit your women.
Lately, it’s not just the women who leave. The Mahavira ananda[sic] group lately became an entrepreneur of yogi work. They offer jobs outside of Romania for men (construction work) and ensure housing, transport and, partially, food, for 300 euros per month, the rest being… “donations”. The compulsory condition to work for Mahavirananda [sic] is to do heavy work for 2 weeks (in construction) for their ashram, FOR FREE, merely for housing and food (partly covered).
Lately, the MISA leaders have approved that during the Costinești spiritual camp, because those in the ashram were forbidden to light candles (for fear of fire), that they (those who have a tapas of light offerings – and there are THOUSANDS OF SUCH PEOPLE!) THAT THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO LIGHT THEIR CANDLES in the ashram called the Little Villa belonging to the Mahavirananda group, FOR MONEY, for just 2 lei [n. about half an euro] for person/candle tray.
So there are some who know even how to transform the spiritual energy of candlelight into money!
There are many things that come to mind now, all types of injustice and abuse. Not from prosecutors and justice, but from MISA leadership. Grieg [Gregorian Bivolaru], you are the first who does us injustice, when you treat yogis differently. The women who do you sexual favors are buried in money and expensive gifts, you take them to Paris and delight them with fine food, but those who work in ashrams like slaves to keep a yoga school alive – and to maintain your LIFE OF LUXURY AND DEBAUCHERY, there’s no money for food, housing, health, electricity or vacations.
It’s our fault, too. It’s our fault that we believed in you. It’s our fault that we were silent, that we accepted your baseness and authority, but one day we’ll finally talk to you face to face, even if you always refuse to meet us or listen to our problems. We will hold you accountable for all these miserly things and for all our suffering. Despite what MISA says in public, we know your people bribe judges and prosecutors, we know that all the MISA companies (starting with the publishing house!) act illegally, with yogi slaves! But slaves can’t quit. They’re merely bought and sold. Dear Grieg, you sold us to Neacşu Cristian, to Nicu Catrina, to Iulia, to Costică, to Cristi Ion, to Lăcrămioara, Edi Franţi, Monica Dascălu, Teo Pop, Radu Constantin and all the other money leeches you surrounded yourself with. These people continue to EXPLOIT us IN YOUR NAME, even if you no longer live in Romania, where we don’t think you’ll ever return! Despite that, although you and He are already judged for these actions, WITH INCREDIBLE INSOLENCE you dare TO CONTINUE TO DO THESE DISHONEST ACTIONS.
Don’t you fear God?! Then FEAR US, because we have reached the end of our patience.
A group of people living in the ashram (who are truly outraged!)