Bishnoi Tribe of Rajasthan – Committed to Nature Conservation
Bishnoi tribe of Western Rajasthan has, over the centuries, protected commited to the conservation of forests, trees and wild animals in and around their villages. Bishnois do not cut trees for fuel and timber; they remove only the dead trunks and twigs. Spotted deer, black buck and blue bull can be seen foraging fearlessly in their fields. Even if the crop is consumed by herds of deer, the Bishnois do not chase away the animals
In 1730 A.D. Maharaja Abhaya Singh of Jodhpur ordered cutting of trees in large numbers to provide timber for building a fortress. He sent soldiers to Bishnoi villages to cut down khejari trees growing in the area. When soldiers applied the axe, the Bishnoi villagers pleaded to spare the trees., When the soldiers did not relent, they hugged the trees and as many as 363 of them laid down their lives to save the trees.
The Bishnois worship nature in all its manifestations, conserve trees and medicinal plants, provide food and water to animals, and are vegetarians in their diet, as advocated by their Guru Jambaji.
Jambaji or Guru Jambheshwar (b. 1451) had founded Bishnoi sect after a drought in the Marwar region of Rajasthan. He made a community having 29 principles to follow , which included worship of lord Vishnu (Bishnu) and ban on Killing animals and the felling of trees. One of his 29 principles states “jeev daya palni, runkh lilo nahi dhave” which means to protect trees and animals, thus trees and animals are considered to be sacred by the Bishnois.