Ishwar Patel and his wife Vasuda

We stayed at The Environmental Sanitation Institute in Gujarat.  This institute is part of the legacy of Ishwar Patel, a man who followed Gandhian principles to improve the lives of scavengers and untouchables.

“As a volunteer for Gandhiji’s constructive movement, Ishwar was deeply impacted by the discrimination that scavengers experienced as they gathered human waste and he consciously dedicated his life to the promotion of sanitation. Becoming known as “Mr. Toilet” through the construction of more than 200,000 toilets, Ishwar Kaka’s work was guided by the cosmic integrity by which he lived his life. He loved the work of sanitation and so the actions in his life were guided by his heart….”  (From Conversation with Jayesh Patel on Christmas Eve).

Seriously.  “Mr. Toilet.”  Love has a sense of humor.  It was perfect for someone like me, who blends the sacred and the profane….It was also perfect because I work at a historical landmark church with a poop problem.  (More on that later.  I don’t have a poop problem – the church does).

The institute was a tropical paradise.  The grounds were lush, there were spiritual statues everywhere, the rooms were simple and immaculate.

My first day, I sat on the lawn of this opulent space and talked with Meghna, of Wisdom Crafts about untouchables.

“Ishwar Dada spoke of a turning point in his life,” she said.  “Once when he was a child, he picked up the broom of an untouchable.  His aunt saw him and got angry.  She told him his action made him untouchable.   She ‘cured him’ by pouring water on one of her gold earrings and sprinkling Ishwar….”

I paused and let that sink in.

“That’s kind of crazy,” I said.

Meghna laughed and agreed.

Then we talked some more.  “The made-up remedy of water on an earring seems so strange,” I said.  “But even stranger is the idea that people bought the idea of untouchability at allThat’s as fictional as the bit about the earring.

Later I asked Ujwal if the concept of untouchables still exists in India.  “It’s not legal,” he said.  “But people still discriminate.”

Yes, we discriminate.  We apply untouchability to others – and to ourselves.

We reject the untouchable aspects of our human flaws and frailties.  Untouchability is still “legal” in our hearts.  We are ashamed.  We compound shame by being ashamed of our shame.  Then we project the shame outwards and see untouchability in others….

What have you deemed “untouchable” in yourself and others?  Can you see that your perception of untouchability is made-up?  Can you recognize that Absolute Reality includes everything?  Is it possible to melt the darkest parts of yourself and others through the sanitizing principle of forgiveness?  

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5 Responses to Untouchable

  1. Janet Roberts says:

    Love this Bonnie. All our beliefs are created and perpetuated until we become conscious and choose them instead. Choosing love and kindness and we are all the same, is possible for everyone. It can take effort and work until it becomes the new pattern but what better use of our life, our energy, our mind? Every closed, damaged and broken heart can be opened by love but I think staying open requires taking control of what we believe and think. Thank you for always getting to the heart of life so succinctly 🙂


  2. Good morning Bonnie,
    Yes I believe forgiveness will melt the darkness.
    I first opened ACIM probably more that three years ago, but on the first of the year I decided to fully indulge loving myself which in turn will help me love all. So I decided to dedicate myself to absorbing the workbook for students every day for this entire year.

    Well the lessons I’m on right now are telling me forgiveness is my function as light of the world, well so I pondered the true meaning of forgiveness and to quote the text in ACIM it is to overlook. Well I could probably write for a day here with conflicting thoughts that my ego will tell me about overlooking what I think are wrongs but decided on the advice form the course to meditate on it and I will receive the answer that I seek. For as Gandhi has said that if you change yourself the world will change towards you. So my change of perception in all that I thought was true seems to be where I’m traveling.
    With all this said I feel in my heart I’m on the path to freedom, in which pure love, peace and all that heaven is here for me and all to share, for when I allow it to emerge from within so will it be done on my brothers and sisters.

    Love and blessings to you my dear Bonnie,
    Michael Stilinovich

    P.S. Pam Grout, the author of many books has a blog and she has been going over the daily lessons from the course with her interpretation, in which she has a great sense of humor along with an abundance of loving qualities, so to anyone reading this I say check it out. ” Peace”


  3. Pingback: Touching Feet | Daily Beloved

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