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)*