A Nomad's Diary - travel tales, An After Thought

Bishnois of Rajasthan – A Remarkable Tale of 300-year-old Eco-warrior Community! (Part-II)

In the first part of this article series about the Bishnois of Rajasthan, we discussed the history and origin of this community. (In case you haven’t read the first part still, read here!) Also, we shared some of their day-to-day lifestyle practices. Continuing the same here are some of the sustainable, environment-friendly practices that make Bishnois a centuries-old eco-warrior community:

  • Fire Worship:

Bishnois worship fire however the fuel of the fire is always a combination of coconut fibre & clarified butter. For protecting trees, wood is not used as the fuel. This is because of one rule in the 29 tenets which prohibits them to cut green trees. But the extent of their dedication is such that many times women don’t pick up even the dried wood for usage. For food purpose too they use dried cow dung as the fuel.

Ber Tree in Bishnoi Village: Bishnois of Rajasthan
Ber Tree in Bishnoi Village: Bishnois of Rajasthan
  • They believe the Earth is for all:

There are patches of land left near villages where the animals are free to roam unhindered.

Sambhar deer & Black Buck  roaming unhindered in Bishnoi Land:  Bishnois of Rajasthan
Sambhar deer & Black Buck roaming unhindered in Bishnoi Land: Bishnois of Rajasthan
  • Making Food and Water easily available for animals:

Importantly, the community maintains special platforms on which fodder and water are kept for animals and birds.

  • Prevention of Hunting:

Bishnois are against hunting. Few places made are located at regular distances where few men stay at night to keep an eye on poachers from venturing in the Bishnoi areas.

  • Khejri Tree:

Bishnois of Rajasthan consider this tree as sacred. It is a symbol for nourishment for them. As a mandate, Bishnois plant this tree in the middle of their agricultural fields. This benefits the water retention in the soil with the help of vertical roots of this tree which grow as deep as 30mtr. The tree is also known to enrich the soil with important nutrients and humus.

Bishnoi Women: Bishnois of Rajasthan
Bishnoi Women
  • Women Status:

Bishnois of Rajasthan consider women equal. They freely express their opinions which are respected and implemented. Among the 29 rules given by Guru Jambeshwar, women remain isolated for 30 days after childbirth. Also, women are on 5-day rest every month during the periods.

  • Sharing of Harvested Crops for Animals & Birds:

Particularly, after every harvest, all the Bishnoi households keep some portion of the crops aside for birds and animals. According to their patron guru teachings, the crops borne by earth must be shared with the animals as well.

A platform for fodder and water is made by Bishnois of Rajasthan for animals
A platform for fodder and water is made by Bishnois of Rajasthan for animals
  • Lakes & Oasis:

The community itself maintains oasis and the lakes near the Bishnoi villages. They plant Khejri trees around it so that more and more retention is there and the lakes do not dry up. As a matter of fact, this lake water is open for consumption to all irrespective of the caste, religion, man, animals, bird.

  • Water Filteration Practice:

The women of this clan have been practising the filtering of water & milk by cloth from several centuries. This is the key to live a healthy life in the first place.

  • Multiple Farming:

Bishnois do multiple farming. This meets their day to day food needs as well as the long span ones. Women equally share the load in farming.

Bishnoi Hut: Simple, clean and beautiful:  Bishnois of Rajasthan
Bishnoi Hut: Simple, clean and beautiful: Bishnois of Rajasthan

The 29 principles sincerely followed by Bishnois of Rajasthan are:

  • Daily take bath before sunrise.
  • Further, observe abstinence and isolation after delivery for mother and newborn.
  • Women to rest and be free from household duties for 5 days every month during menses.
  • Live a life of modesty.
  • Develop patience.
  • Maintain cleanliness & purity at external & internal levels.
  • Do prayers thrice in a day.
  • During the evening prayers perform aarti & remember the qualities of God.
  • Do the havan with utter sincerity and love.
  • Use water, fuel, and milk after filtering them and proper segregation.
  • Control your tongue.
  • Be kind and practice forgiveness.
  • Do not commit robbery.
  • Avoid condemning or criticising.
  • Do not tell lies.
  • Avoid getting into debates and fights.
  • On a ‘no-moon’ night keep fast.
  • Sing songs of Lord Vishnu.
  • Be kind towards animals & birds.
  • Do not cut green trees.
  • Control lust, temper, greed and attachment.
  • Cook food with hands.
  • Sterilising bulls is banned.
  • Provide shelters for abandoned animals and be kind to them.
  • Do not use or trade opium
  • Smoking or use tobacco or its products is prohibited.
  • Also, as a mandate, do not take bhang or hemp.
  • Consumption of alcohol is banned.
  • Be pure vegetarian. Do not eat meat.
  • Do not use blue colour extracted from the indigo plant.
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(5) Comments

  1. I didn’t know about the Bishnoi community. Such deep respect for nature and other animal species is something we need to learn too. Theirs is a lifestyle worth emulating.

  2. This was an interesting read! I had not heard of these people, and there tents are excellent… definitely something everyone should follow

  3. I know about this community as it was part of one of my project during school days. The community follows many modern rituals like equality for everyone in their traditional way.

    1. Glad to know that you have read it in your school days about this fantastic community of eco-warriors.

  4. Kavita says:

    This is so historically rich, I would love to tell all this to my little one. Leaving a land for animals to roam around free and not using wood for fuel, I am amazed to read all this. Kudos to you for writing this with such passion, loved reading this.

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