From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bishnoi(also known as Vishnoi) is a Hindu religious sect found in the Western Thar Desert and northern states of India. They follow a set of 29 principles/commandments given by Guru Jambheshwar (1451-1536).[1] Jambheshwar founded the sect at Samrathal Dhora in 1485 and his teachings, comprising 120 shabads, are known as Shabadwani. He preached for the next 51 years, travelling across India. There are an estimated 10,00,000 followers of Vishnoi sect residing in large number in states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh. A significant population of this sect also lives in some villages of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.



Bishnoi sect was founded by Guru Jambheshwar (1451-1536), also known as Jambhaji. Some writers have used the term Vishnoi, meaning followers of Vishnu but sect members refer to themselves as Bishnoi. Jambheshwar himself did not refer to Bishnoi but does mention Vishnu. Adherents are also known as Prahladapanthi because of their devotion to Prahlada, another Hindu deity.[3]

Jambheshwar announced a set of 29 tenets.[3] These were contained in a document called Shabadwani, written in the Nagri script, which consists of 120 shabads. Of his 29 tenets, ten are directed towards personal hygiene and maintaining good basic health, seven for healthy social behaviour, and four tenets to the worship of God. Eight tenets have been prescribed to preserve bio-diversity - although most adherents are unaware of that, or such things as global warming, as a concept[3] - and encourage good animal husbandry. These include a ban on killing animals and felling green trees, and providing protection to all life forms. The community is also directed to see that the firewood they use is devoid of small insects. Wearing blue clothes is prohibited because the dye for colouring them is obtained by cutting a large quantity of shrubs.[citation needed]

Places of pilgrimage[edit]

The Bishnoi have various temples, of which they consider the most holy to be that in the village of Mukam in Nokha tehsil, Bikaner district, Rajasthan. It is there that a shrine to Jambheshwar exists.[4][5][6]

Khejarli massacre[edit]

The Bishnoi narrate the story of Amrita Devi, a member of the sect who inspired as many as 362 other Bishnois to go to their deaths in protest of the cutting down of Khejri trees in September 1730. The maharajah of Jodhpur, Abhay Singh, requiring wood for the construction of a new palace, sent soldiers to cut trees in the village of Khejarli, which was called Jehnad at that time. Noticing their actions, Devi hugged a tree in an attempt to stop them. Her family then adopted the same strategy, as did other local people when the news spread. She told the soldiers that she considered their actions to be an insult to her faith and that she was prepared to die to save the trees. The soldiers did indeed kill her and others until Abhay Singh was informed of what was going on and intervened to stop the massacre.[7][8]

Some of the 363 Bishnois who were killed protecting the trees were buried in Khejarli, where a simple grave with four pillars was erected. Every year, in September, the Bishnois assemble there to commemorate the sacrifice made by their people to preserve their faith and religion.[9]

29 rules[edit]

The 29 tenets of Bishnoism state: [10] [11]

  1. Observe 30 days' state of ritual impurity after child's birth and keep mother and child away from household activities.

[To prevent Infant and Mother from external infection]

  1. Observe 5 days' segregation while a woman is in her menses.

[For Comfort and Hygiene]

  1. Take bath daily in the morning before Sunrising.
  2. Obey the ideal rules of life: Modesty, Patience or satisfactions, cleanliness.
  3. Pray two times everyday (morning and evening).
  4. Eulogise God, Vishnu, in evening hours (Aarti)
  5. Perform Yajna (Havan) with the feelings of welfare devotion and love.
  6. Use filtered water, milk and cleaned firewood.
  7. Speak pure words in all sincerity.
  8. Practice forgiveness from heart.
  9. Be merciful by heart.
  10. Do not steal or keep any intention to do it.
  11. Do not condemn or criticize.
  12. Do not lie.
  13. Do not indulge in dispute/debate.
  14. Fast on Amavasya.
  15. Worship and recite Lord Vishnu in adoration
  16. Be merciful to all living beings and love them.
  17. Do not cut green trees, save the environment.
  18. Crush lust, anger, greed and attachment.
  19. Cook your food by yourself.
  20. Provide shelters for abandoned animals to avoid them from being slaughtered in abattoirs.
  21. Do not sterilise bulls.
  22. Do not use or trade opium.
  23. Do not smoke or use tobacco or its products.
  24. Do not take bhang or hemp.
  25. Do not drink alcohol/liquor.
  26. Do not eat meat, always remain pure vegetarian.
  27. Do not use violet blue colour extracted from the indigo plant.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Desert Dwellers of Rajasthan – bishnoi and Bhil people". 2004. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  2. ^ Salopek, Paul (6 August 2018). "Green Hindus". National Geographic Society. “We save nature, and nature saves us,” said Nishant Bishnoi, 27, one of perhaps half a million of the sect’s members in India
  3. ^ a b c Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.
  4. ^ Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.
  8. ^ "The Bishnois". Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  9. ^ "Global Nonviolent Action Database". Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  10. ^ "Bishnoism: An eco dharma of Bishnois who are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect trees and wild animals". Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  11. ^ "List of 29 Principles". Retrieved 24 January 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]