India | Rajasthan


Bishnois, inhabiting parts of Rajasthan, adhere to a custom of preserving and protecting the wildlife. They follow the 29 principles laid down by their spiritual guru Jambeshwar Bhagvan, who established a religious faith that preached truthfulness and compassion towards all living beings.

Owing to the compassion towards the living beings Bishnois follow a strict vegetarian diet. Their rituals are a combination of both Hindu and Muslim faiths. While they worship the Hindu god Lord Vishnu, they bury their dead in a manner similar to the Muslims. This custom of burial is practiced because this tribe never fells a live tree. Even the carpenters of this community follow this practice and instead wait for the trees to die or fall down during a storm. Each family in this tribe has a tank situated in their field to provide water for the animals, especially during summers. These people never chase away any animals. They would rather die than let any animal or tree to be harmed in any manner. Though generally peaceful by nature, this tribe gets aggressive and violent when dealing with a poacher in their land.

Bishnois regard black buck as an incarnation of Jambeshwar Bhagvan. Dhawa Wildlife Sanctuary, holding India’s largest population of antelopes, credits its success to this tribe, which inhabits parts of the sanctuary and help in the protection of the wildlife.

Updated on 16th June, 2005


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