Friday, November 12, 2010

Bishnois and their love for nature!


A Bishnoi lady feeding her kids!
Bishnois, a tribal sub-sect of Hinduism are mostly seen in the northern Indian states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The religions guru of this sect, Guru Jambheshwar made it religiously compulsory to “Not cut green trees” and “To be compassionate to all living beings”. Bishnois follow these nature friendly rules despite their hardships in these villages.

Bishnois are great lover of animals and are very particular about protecting the wild life resources. In spite of the shortage of water one can see lots of antelope such as blue bulls, black bucks and chinkaras fearlessly graze around these villages.

Unlike other Hindu communities, Bishnois bury their dead instead of cremating. This again is to avoid cutting of trees for cremation.

Now let me introduce a relatively unknown person, yet a very true environmentalist and locally celebrated Amrita Devi.

In 1730 A.D. a Bishnoi woman by name Amrita Devi lived with her three daughters in a village called Kejarli. Kejarli is the name of a tree and it was abandant in this place and thus the village got its name. Once Amrita Devi learned that a lot of people from the nearby places gathered to this otherwise sleepy town. Later she came to know it was the party of men sent by the King to fell trees for using in the construction of his new palace.

Amrita Devi protested against the Kings men. Kings men were no way ready to give up and are all set to obey the Kings order. Amrita Devi sticked to her conviction and protested even stronger and said “I would rather give my life to save the green trees”. “If a tree is saved even at the cost of one's head, it's worth it”

Having said these she offered her head. The axes severed her Head instead of trees. Her three young daughters dint think twice and offered their heads too to save the Trees.

The news spread like wildfire. The Bishnois of Khejarli united and informed their people in 83 Bishnoi villages in the surrounding to come join hands to take a serious decision. In spite of Amrita Devi and her daughters sacrifice the kings party continued felling down the trees. The community decided to go stronger and pronounced that, for every single green tree cut, one life will be sacrificed until the felling is stopped.

The old people first came forward and hugged trees and in no time the trees as well as the heads rolled. Despite these courageous old persons sacrificing themselves, the Kings party leader ridiculed the Bishnois saying they were offering unwanted old persons. Immediately the young bunch, the recently married and even children started sacrificing their lives in similar fashion and totally 363 Bishnois were martyred.

The situation has become worse and the kings men were badly shaken. They left the place in a hurry without completing their mission to report the incident to the King.

Honouring the courage of the Bishnoi community, The King apologized for the mistake committed by his officials and issued a royal decree, engraved on a copper plate ordering the following:

  • All cutting of green trees and hunting of animals within the revenue boundaries of Bishnoi villages was strictly prohibited.
  • It was also ordered that if by mistake any individual violated this order, he would be prosecuted by the state and a severe penalty imposed.
  • Even members of the ruling family would not shoot animals in or near Bishnoi villages.


A typical Bishnoi village


(pic and info taken from net)*

9 comments:

lakshmi said...

wow what a sacrifice......
and how cruel of the king's men...

great one Narayanan
thanks for sharing

bettyl said...

I find these historical stories fascinating.

Greener Bangalore said...

@Lakshmi yes Lakshmi Amrita Devi and her clan can claim to be the first organized environmentalist anywhere in the world...

@Betty...yes Betty India is a country where u can find a lot of unheard stories like this...Thanks to technology that many are unearthed and seeing light these days.....I am glad to share and Thanks again......

kavita said...

I have heard a lot about Bishnois and seen a documentary too but had never heard of Amrita Devi's story before your post.Thanks a lot for sharing .Wish more and more people follow the ways of Bishnoi .
Excellent post !

Spiderdama said...

WOW!! What a picture that first one! Amazing!!
Thanks for your nice comment.
I wish you a blessed week, hugs from Tania in Norway

Alka Gurha said...

interesting...Salman is facing the Bishnoi ire over killing blackbucks. Will drop in by the other blog too

Alka Gurha said...

Interesting...Salman is still facing the heat..He clashed with the Bishnois...At least someone is thinking abt our environment.....

Tina said...

I have never seen anything like that with the animal and child together feeding. Very unusual and a good educational read.

Tina from
Mummy Diaries

Rajesh said...

Great community. I wish all of use were kind like them.

Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.