Key problems of BISHNOIS OF JODHPUR
Bishnois strictly forbid the harming of trees and animals. They promote environmental stewardship.In 1730, almost 300 years after Guru Jambaji’s 29 principles were recorded, the maharajah (king) of Jodhpur wanted to build a new palace. He sent soldiers to gather wood from the forest region near the village of Khejarli, where Bishnoi villagers had helped foster an abundance of khejri (acacia) trees. When the king’s men began to harm the trees, the Bishnois protested in anguish but were ignored by the soldiers, who were under royal orders.
Save sacred trees from being cut down by the king’s soldiers for a new palace.
Relevant facts and people involved: whose concern behind the issue
Guru MaharajJambaji witnessed the incessant clear-cutting of trees during times of drought to feed animals, only to see them die eventually as the drought continued. He also recognized the importance of trees within his local ecosystem (keeping animals alive) and banned cutting down green trees and killing birds or animals. Jambaji’s spiritual reverence for nature led to a tradition of harmony with the local ecology: in the middle of an arid desert region, the Bishnois are famous for cultivating lush vegetation, caring for animals, and collecting drinkable water.
Amrita Devi was a female villager who could not bear to witness the destruction of both her faith and the village’s sacred trees. She decided to literally hug the trees, and encouraged others to do so too and Bishnois from Khejri and nearby villages came together to protect the trees
Protest, Impacts and decision taken
As each villagers hugged a tree and the voluntary martyrdom continued until 363 Bishnoi villagers were killed in the name of the sacred Khejarli forest.
The maharajah designated the Bishnoi state as a protected area, forbidding harm to trees and animals.
In memory of the 363 Bishnois, who died protecting their dear trees, a number of khejri trees are planted around the area, which is still notably lush and rich with animal life.
- The Bishnoi sacrifices became the inspiration for a much larger Chipko movement that is still growing today, in which villagers physically embrace trees to save them from logging.
- The Bishnois successfully protected their village’s sacred khejri grove, even ensuring its protection by state law.
- The Bishnois continue to practice their religion in the Marwar region.
- The campaign grew from a few alarmed villagers to 363 people willing to risk death.