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GuruGuru Jambeshwar
Mantra"Vishnu Vishnu Tu Bhan Re Prani"
Country India
Original stateRajasthan
Populated statesMajor:
Uttar Pradesh,
Madhya Pradesh,
Himanchal Pradesh
RegionWestern India

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 Jambeshwar (1451-1536).[1] They are not a caste but a sect. As of 2019, there are an estimated 960,000 followers of Vishnoi sect residing in north and central India.[2] Shree Guru Jambeshwar 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. With Nepal The preaching of Guru Jambhoji inspires his followers as well as the environmental protectors.


Guru Jambeshwar gave his followers 29 precepts, bis means 20 in the local dialect and noi means nine in the local dialect, which became the "Bis+Noi" name for the sect.[2] In local dialect, it is often said, “Untees dharma ki akhadi, hirday dhario joye, Jambheji kirpa kari, naam bishnoi hoye” which means those who will follow these twenty-nine principles by heart, Guru Jambhoji will bless them and they will be a Bishnoi (Vishnoi).[1][3]


Bishnoi sect was founded by Shree Guru Jambeshwar (1451-1536), also known as Jambhoji. Some people have used the term Vishnoi, meaning followers of Vishan, the all mighty god, while some refer to themselves as Bishnoi. Shree Guru Jambeshwar himself did not refer to Bishnoi but does mention Vishan. Adherents are also known as Prahladapanthi because of their devotion to Prahlada, another Hindu deity.[4]

Shree Guru Jambeshwar announced a set of 29 tenets.[4] 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[4] - 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]

Vishnois Performing Haven With Khopra(Coconut) And Ghee At Khejarli Environment Fair.

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 where the Major Vishnoi Temple is.[5][6][7]

Khejarli massacre[edit]

The Bishnoi narrate the story of Amrita Devi, a member of the sect who inspired as many as 363 other Bishnois to go to their deaths in protest of the cutting down of Khejri trees in 12 September 1730. The Maharaja 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, Amrita 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.[8][9]

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, i.e., Shukla Dashmi of Bhadrapad (Hindi month) the Bishnois assemble there to commemorate the sacrifice made by their people to preserve their faith and religion.[3][10]

29 rules[edit]

The 29 tenets of Bishnoism state:[citation needed]

  1. Observe a 30 day state of ritual impurity after child's birth and keep mother and child away from household activities.
  2. Observe a 5 day segregation while a woman is in her menses.
  3. Bathe daily in the morning before sunrise.
  4. Obey the ideal rules of life: modesty, patience or satisfactions, cleanliness.
  5. Pray twice everyday (morning and evening).
  6. Eulogise God, Vishan, in the evening (Aarti)
  7. Perform Yajna (Havan) with the feelings of welfare devotion and love.
  8. Use filtered water, milk and cleaned firewood.
  9. Speak pure words in all sincerity.
  10. Practice forgiveness from the heart.
  11. Be merciful with sincerity.
  12. Do not steal nor harbour any intention to do it.
  13. Do not condemn or criticize.
  14. Do not lie.
  15. Do not indulge in dispute/debate.
  16. Fast on Amavasya.
  17. Worship and recite Lord Vishan in adoration.
  18. Be merciful to all living beings and love them.
  19. Do not cut green trees, save the environment.
  20. Crush lust, anger, greed and attachment.
  21. Cook your food by yourself.
  22. Provide shelters for abandoned animals to avoid them from being slaughtered in abattoirs.
  23. Do not sterilise bulls.
  24. Do not use or trade opium.
  25. Do not smoke or use tobacco or its products.
  26. Do not take bhang or hemp.
  27. Do not drink alcohol/liquor.
  28. Do not eat meat, always remain purely vegetarian.
  29. 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. Archived from the original on 16 December 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  2. ^ a b Akash Kapur, A Hindu Sect Devoted to the Environment, New York Times, 8 Oct 2010.
  3. ^ a b Mehra, Satya Prakash. "Nature Conservation is my Religion". The Viewspaper.
  4. ^ a b c Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.
  5. ^ Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. p. 51. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.
  9. ^ "The Bishnois". Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  10. ^ "Global Nonviolent Action Database". Retrieved 22 April 2017.

Further reading[edit]