Bishnoi is the Hindi word for 29 (bish = 20, noi = 9) The Bishnoi are staunch vegetarians who practice a religion of peace based on 29 principals advocated by their 15th century guru and environmental visionary, Sri Jumbheshwar Bhagwan. Theirs is a faith built on the holism of nature, completely dedicated to the principal that conservation is vitally important to human life.

Principles such as, compassion for all living beings, cleanliness, daily meditation, truthfulness and a vegetarian diet promote robust health in mind and body. Tenets that prohibit the felling of trees, and protect wildlife are sacred traditions of the hardy Bishnoi.

Bishnoi women suckle motherless deer, and the Bishnois go hungry to provide food for animals, wait for trees to die on their own or fall during storms and bury their dead to avoid burning wood. (All other Hindus cremate their dead)

Bishnoi villages are like an oasis in the desert. The trees are plentiful and the animals, mostly black buck and chinkara (deer), are not afraid of humans and eat out of the villagers’ hands.  The Bishnoi are a gentle, non-violent community who are passionate in their protection of trees and wildlife.  Hunters and poachers who intrude in their area have been beat up and their vehicles damaged.

The Bishnoi are also the world’s first “Tree Huggers”.  In 1730 the Kings’s men tried to cut down the trees in Bishnoi territory. Three Hundred-fifty Bishnoi died hugging trees in an attempt to prevent the King’s men from cutting them down. Theirs is not a religion of myths and miracles, sacred books, ornate temples or priests. The Bishnoi are a wise and very practical people and a model for us all.


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