GURU JAMBHESHWAR JI
Guru Jambheshwar, (b. 1451 in a remote Rajasthani village Pipasar) also known as Jambhoji, was the founder of the Bishnoi religion, his teaching was to stop Idol worship of any form. He preached to respect and protect environment and animals as they were GOD's creations. He launched the eco-religious revolution known as Bishnoism at Samrathal Dhora on eighth day of black fortnight of the month of Kartika (Indian Lunar Calender) in 1485 A.D. Jambho ji, was born in a remote village Pipasar in 1451 A.D. He was the only child of his parents i.e. Father,Lohat ji Panwar and Mother, Hansa Devi. For first 7 years, Jambho ji was a silent, introvert child. He also spent a lot of time (27 years) as a cowboy like Lord Krishna (Incidentally both had an identical Birth day i.e. Janmashtami!) At a age of 34, Jambho ji founded Bishnoi religion. His teachings were in poetic form, known as Shabadwani. Although, he preached for next 51 years, travelling across the country, only 120 Shabads i.e. verses of Shabadwani, are available at present. Even these 120 shabads are a source of great wisdom and are sufficent for an individual to understand and follow his path. Bishnoism, as mention earlier revolves around 29 commandments.Out of these 29 commandments, 8 prescribe to preserve bio diversity and encourage good animal husbandry.7 Commandments provide directions for healthy social behaviour. 10 commandments are directed towrds personal hygiene and maintaining basic good health. Rest 4 commandments provide guidelines for worshipping God daily. Bishnoi community observes socio-religious gatherings known as Melas twice a year at Mukam where Guru ji’s mortal frame was consigned to earth in 1536 A.D. In a nutshell, Jambho ji was a great visionary, who had forseen the consequences of man’s actions destroying nature for economic development. He saw the need for environmental protection and weaved his principals into religious commandments so that people can internalise those principals easily. His teachings were in poetic form known as Shabadwani. Although he preached for following 51 years, travelling across India, only 120 Shabads, or poetic verses, are available at present. It is claimed that these 120 shabads are a source of great wisdom and are sufficient for an individual to understand and follow his path. Bishnoism revolves around 29 commandments or Bisno, from "Bees" (Twenty) and "No" (Nine). Out of these 29 commandments, eight aim to preserve biodiversity and encourage good animal husbandry. Seven Commandments provide directions for healthy social behaviour. Ten commandments are directed towards personal hygiene and maintaining basic good health. The other four rules are guidelines for worshipping daily.
Cenotaph of Bishnoi martyrs at Khejarli, who
laid down their lives in 1730 CE protecting trees.
29 Rules or Commandments of Bishnoi Community
1. To observe segregation of the mother and newborn for 30 days after delivery To prevent infection to the mother and the baby during a stage when both are highly susceptible to outside infections Also to provide forced rest to the woman when she is very weak.
2. To keep woman away from all activities for 5 days during her menstrual periods To provide compulsory rest to the woman (also, considering the poor hygiene levels in those days or even today in rural India) For woman.
3. To take early morning bath daily Personal hygiene
4. To maintain both external and internal cleanliness and remaining content Internal cleanliness meansà good intentions, humble behaviour, character without envious feelings, etc.
5. To meditate twice a day i.e. morning and evening (times when night is being separated from the day) Morning meditation to ponder over the proposed activities of day, whether my actions are right, moral or am I going to do something against my life values. Also, to pray the lord for directions and power to move ahead in the life path. Evening meditation to take a stock of day’s activities, whether I made any mistake? Did I hurt somebody? Whether I spent the day in constructive activities or just wasted this valuable time? Some authors say thrice a day.
6. To sing the Lord’s glory and reciting His virtues every evening.
7. To offer daily oblation to the holy fire with a heart filled with feelings of welfare, love and devotion Daily (preferably morning) oblations with: Feelings of welfare of all living being Love for nature and whole world Devotion to the Lord.
8. Use filtered water, milk and carefully cleaned fuel/ firewood To make the water and milk bacteria free! In case of firewood to see that some insects etc. don’t get burned with the fuel and pollute the environment.
9. Filter your speech! Think before you speak.
10. To be forgiving in nature Forgiveness is a parameter of greatness. This one virtue could uplift a normal person to the standards of great souls of the world. Guru said further, " if somebody come to you shouting, become cool like water!"
11. To be compassionate Compassion helps in purifying the heart. It is opposite to the forgiveness (Refer rule 10 and end note) in a sense that in forgiving, we keep our heart and mind cool against some external stimuli, whereas in compassion, we imbibe the feelings of the helpless. We put ourselves in the shoes of victim (of some other external circumstance, assault, stimuli) and acting accordingly.
12. Not to steal Trying to own someone else’s things through cheating, or stealing is theft. Theft is the dirt of the character. It pinches the soul.
13. Not to revile/ condemn someone Reviling means insulting stealthily or disparaging behind the back. This is different from open criticism. Criticism is done openly with an objective of the improvement, whereas the objective of reviling/condemning someone is only to malign the victim’s image/position in the eyes of listener or the community. Condemning is an act of cowards and done out of envy and/or hatred.
14. Not to tell lies A liar can never attain respect of others. It is insult to the gift of speech. There was a time, when even the court used to accept the testimony of Bishnoi men as hard evidence.
15. Not to indulge in opprobrium One should not indulge in any unnecessary/ wasteful debates. All such discussions/ deliberations, which are anti-social, anti-human fall under this category. It is to be noted that the Guru has not proscribed / banned a healthy debate on issues concerning the welfare of all.
16. To observe fast and meditate on no-moon night (and the same day i.e. Amavsya) To provide rest to the body and its internal systems. This day of the month has a special significance from astronomical and planetary science’s point of view. In addition, the regular fading of the moon’s appearance is also symbolic of the perishable nature of life. So in this context, one should not waste his/her energy in the daily routine work but should ‘charge’ his /her energy level and introspect & ponder over the collective welfare.
17. To recite the the name of the Almighty GOD.
18. To be compassionate towards all living beings.
19. Not to cut green trees.
20. To kill the non-perishables! To overcome the non-perishable enemies of human beings viz. lust, anger, envey, greed and attachment.
21. To partake food cooked by self/ other religious person or one who is pure by heart and work.
22. To provide a common shelter (Thhat) for goat/sheep to avoid them being slaughtered in abattoirs No Bishnoi should sell a male goat/sheep because these could be used for slaughtering purposes. Hence, he should send them to Thhat’s where the whole community provides feed and shelter for them. In later years, most Bishnoi’s got out of the business of rearing goats/ sheep, etc.
23. Not to have bull’s castrated In rural India, bulls are castrated before they are used as bullocks for agricultural purposes. Guru prohibited this activity for his disciples. The underlining feeling behind this commandment is that Bishnoi’s rear the bovines like their son/daughters and getting them castrated through a painful procedure portray nothing but cruelty.
24. Not to partake of opium Or any product made out of opium
25. Not to use tobacco and its products.
26. Not to partake of cannabis.
27. Not to drink liquor.
28. Not to eat meat or non-vegetarian dishes The underlying rationale of this commandment are two pronged To protect the animals/birds from being slaughtered by creating a market barrier! To protect the man, the best creation of the nature, from stooping to such low standards as eating meat of dead animals/birds. Scientifically also the structure of man’s teeth, jaws etc. is of not a carnivorous animal but is that of a herbivorous creature. Interestingly, if the meat eating would have been that superior, why even the non-vegetarian people eat meat/ eggs of the herbivorous animals/birds and not that of carnivorous animals/birds.
29. Not to use blue coloured clothes In ancient India, the blue colour used to be obtained from indigo. Thus it’s possible that the Guru wanted to stop destruction of this wild shrub or promote its cultivation in lieu of other life supporting crops. Blue is the color of death , poision ( Indian Mythology- Lord Shiva).
Bishnoi Bhawan, New Delhi
It is also thought that the blue color do not reflect the harmful ultraviolet rays but absorbs them, which is a major health hazard. Jambhoji stipulated that no trees were to be felled, and hunting was forbidden. His followers, some of whom may have thought of Jambhoji as an incarnation of Vishnu, were also enjoined to have compassion for all living beings, give up all intoxicants, swear by the tenets of ahimsa (non-violence) and satya (truth), and adhere to a vegetarian diet. Legend has it that flora and fauna flourished wherever Bishnoi's were to be found, and that even in times of severe hardship and drought, the black buck, dear and the Indian gazelle could count upon food and water. Moreover, the customs of the Bishnoi point to an attempt on the part of Jambhoji to forge a more syncretic movement, characteristic of the wave of bhakti (devotion) sweeping India at that time: thus, though the Bishnoi's worshipped Vishnu, they adopted the Muslim practice of burial of the dead. Jambhaji, evidently, could not countenance the idea of felling a tree to obtain wood for the funeral pyre. His near contemporaries in north India would have been Kabir, Tulsidas, and Mirabai, among other famous exponents of bhakti, and one has only to recall Kabir’s disdain for customary practices (such as circumcision among Muslims, and the thread ceremony among savarna Hindus) to realize that Jambhaji’s own iconoclasm, whatever its distinct features, was perhaps in some respects part of the wider ethos. The Bishnois are a community of nature worshippers in the state of Rajasthan, India. They also have a sizeable presence in the neighbouring states of Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. The Bishnoi community observes religious gatherings known as Melas twice a year at Mukam, since the 16th century. The most prominent pilgrimage place of the Bishnois is situated at village called Mukam in Nokha Tehsil, Bikaner District, Rajasthan. Other important pilgrimage places belonging to the Bishnois are Samrathal Dhora situated 3 km from Mukam, Pipasar, Jangloo, Lohat, Lodipur, Sameliya, and Jambolav. src:wikipedia