Lessons from 'the one who wins the heart'

By Emmie G. Velarde


Posted date: June 12, 2007

"Where are you from?" she asks gently.

"From the Philippines , Dadi," I reply, a little short of breath. I've just walked a hundred meters to say goodbye to her. I am seated on a stool at her feet.

" Philippines ," she repeats softly, sweetly. I've never heard my country's name spoken with such affection.

She doesn't know too much English. I was among some 12,000 people from all over the world that she addressed five nights ago. She required an interpreter as usual, in an elaborate setup for further translation into about 15 languages and 13 Indian dialects.

It is my 12th trip to the main campus of this unique school, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University in Rajasthan , India . I've been a "student" for 17 years, and still I feel there's much to improve.

Teaching and learning

"We each have something to learn. We each have something to teach. For example, we are taught not to give sorrow. But also we should not take sorrow. If someone gives you rotten fruit, will you take it? Sorrow in all its forms is like rotten fruit. When we refuse to take the negative thoughts and bad feelings that people hand us, they will lose the habit of giving them."


She is one of the three main teachers and co-administrators of the university. Her name is Hirdaya Mohini, which means "the one who wins the heart." Dadi (Hindi term of respect for older sister) is more popularly known to 900,000 students around the world (300 of them in the Philippines ) by the name Gulzar, which means "rose garden."

Dadi Gulzar was one of the original wards in a small boarding school for girls set up in Sindh by the royal jeweler Dada Lekraj in 1937. In his new role, he was called Brahma Baba. The school concentrated on training in spiritual principles, and had the same group of girls for 14 years. Dadi's practice has continued to this day, 70 years later.

"Brahma Baba used to say I was a thakar (small image of a deity made of silver or gold)," Dadi related in a class she conducted on Self-Respect, one of the most popular "courses" in the university. "Thus at a very young age, I had felt a great sense of worth."

The aspect of the 14-year boot camp that emphasized silence was the young Hirdaya's favorite.

"I have always loved solitude—being very quiet, being peaceful," she told the class. "Even as a child I spoke very little and very softly. I believe that, as a result, my intellect remained very alert. I could accurately catch whatever was being conveyed to me. That is the secret of clear communication, for each party to have a quiet and accepting mind."


"Silence is the seed of all power. It promotes clarity, which facilitates accurate decision-making."

Why not women?

The girls in Brahma Baba's boarding school ("kumari" means daughter) were prepared to be spiritual teachers.

Dadi Gulzar recounted in class: "Where I was born, women played a secondary role in society. It's as if they were locked up, not to be seen or heard from. They were required to dress in a specific way, covered from head to toe with just enough opening for the eyes to see through! No matter how hot it became, they had to sweat under those very thick garments."

She continued: "Brahma Baba thought, 'Why shouldn't women be spiritual teachers? Why should men be the only ones deemed worthy for that task? By nature, women are more nurturing. They have the inherent qualities of tolerance, love and renunciation. '"

At 15, Dadi Gulzar discovered her ability to go into what she described as a "subtle dimension." She would step into that dimension where, as she put it, past and future are the same and perfect. She would remember everything, which she then wrote down in detail, the better to share with others the feelings of completeness, well-being and bliss—what might be imagined, she says, as "being a child sitting on God's lap"—that came with the experience.

"It came to me as a gift," she told the students, "and I accepted."

To the crowds who listen to her, the real gift is that Dadi Gulzar is able to convey these feelings as though they, too, had taken the subtle journey. That's an average of 10,000 people each time, at least 10 times a year.

They come from everywhere, sometimes traveling for days, like the Russian students who come by the busloads.

What started as a little school is now in 90 countries, with 8,500 centers teaching Raja Yoga meditation. Some of the largest communities of students outside of India and apart from Russia , are in Australia , Great Britain , the United States and Malaysia .

The annual gatherings at the main campus are a study in harmony.

Mirror of values

"Learn to say 'yes' with every opportunity to cooperate. We can create feelings of peace and happiness at will. We need never pick up any negativity. To get upset means to let others dictate our behavior."


"I'm here to take my leave, Dadi," I say.

She fixes me with a drishti, a loving gaze—five, maybe 10 seconds. The first time I experienced her drishti was many years ago, when I sat in the front row in a huge hall, listening to her speak. She had looked straight at me and asked, "Will you ever leave the Father?" I could not speak for the next 24 hours.

Now, she is reminding me, "In prayer you talk to the Father; in meditation you listen. You never need to ask anything. You will know what He wants you to do."

I swoon vaguely. I feel so… clean! Finally I rise and, before I can think, I blurt out, "Is being His child enough?"

Dadi motions for me to hold out my hand. She gives me a toli (sweet) and says softly, slowly, "God is your Father, Mother, Teacher, Companion and Friend. Everyday, He offers you His company in all relationships, at all levels. Accept His offer."


The Brahma Kumaris is a United Nations Peace Messenger. As an educational institution and an NGO, it has a consultative status with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

The Philippine service celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. To mark this milestone, Dadi Gulzar is participating in an entertainment/ experiential event at the Araneta Coliseum on Monday, June 18. The free public program is being directed by Floy Quintos, with celebrity hosts Boy Abunda, Tessie Tomas, Ricky Davao and Timmy Cruz.

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