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Bishnois Have Been Called The Sacred Environmentalists

Before the “green” movement became trendy, there is a village in India that takes eco-conservation to the level of religion.

Bishnois, a community following the tenets prescribed by Jambeshwar in the 15th century, teaches its followers to respect nature, be kind to animals and not to cut trees. The followers are so principled as to lay down their lives to protect a tree…


The Bishnois are rightfully called the first environmentalists of India. They have given more to nature in comparison to what the entire country would have contributed so far. In spite of living in the arid desert regions for centuries they have been following the dictates of their religious principles. A cursory look at their lifestyle is a very humbling experience.

  • Bishnois do not cut green trees and are compassionate to all living beings.
  • The Bishnoi settlements are made from material gathered locally and most eco-friendly measures are taken to build their abode.
  • They do not fell trees. They only collect dead wood. Even a carpenter waits patiently for the tree to fall.
  • Deers, Black Bucks, Peacocks, Blue Bulls, Chinkaras, are some of the animals that you would find roaming around their settlements. Because of Bishnois and their commitment to protection of nature, many animals have survived this long. Nowhere else would one find a perfect marriage of all forms of flora and fauna.
  • Long before Rain Harvesting concept caught fire, to combat the severe drought and water shortage, the Bishnois build water storage tanks that can collect and store rain water. This water is not only for humans but animals too.
  • Bishnois oppose to their religious tradition of cremating the dead. To avoid wastage of firewood, they bury the deceased.
  • Though a religious sect, the Bishnois do not believe in unnecessary rituals, idol-worship, caste system, etc., but continually lay emphasis on compassion, love, and peace, thereby firming their foundation for love for Mother Nature.
  • To minimize the use of green trees, they use cow dung cakes as fuel for cooking.
  • One of their principle tenets “Amar Rakhave That” – means to provide shelter for abandoned animals so that they can live the rest of their life with dignity.

There are many more such humbling facts and practices of the Bishnoi way of life. We are forced to stop here and give it a serious thought. A tribal settlement, living in harsh conditions, struggling to make a living, would still want to protect and preserve the resources that could have been exploited as a key to their prosperity. The Bishnoi community is a standing testimony of fanatical fervor for life.

While India is trying hard to educate the masses on environmental protection and eco conservation, this small and modest community that has surpassed the biggest of economies by virtue of it simple approach to life.

The Bishnois do not tolerate destruction of flora and fauna by unnatural means. They are very protective of their surroundings and are known to be violent in course of its protection. There is a saying that if you are a hunter, the worst thing that can happen to be caught by a Bishnoi while on Shikhar. With law and order coming to force, the Bishnois are not sparing any threat to the environment. They have been fighting court cases, poachers, and any threat to the environment they cherish.

If not for the Bishnois, the Black Buck and Chinkara, which come under Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act, supposedly getting the highest degree of protection by the state, would have had vanished like other species,. Salman Khan or Mansur Ali Khan of Pataudi – the Bishnois spare nobody.

It is heart-warming to notice that the younger generation of Bishnois is slowly taking over the reigns of protecting the Earth in their own ways. We are optimistic that this new generation, armed with increased environmental consciousness and mass support for eco conservation will be successful in preserving the priceless treasures of this world.