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Guru Jambeshwar 001.jpg
Guru Jambheshwar also known Jambhaji, is the spiritual leader of Bishnoi sect.

Bishnoi is a religious group found in the Western Thar Desert of India, the desert overlaps areas of Punjab, and Sindh in Pakistan. The name is derived from bis (twenty) and nai (nine) i.e. followers of 29 principles given by Guru Jambheshwar.[1] Guru Jambheshwar gave the message to protect trees and wildlife around 540 years ago, prophesying that harming the environment means harming yourself. He formulated twenty nine tenets. The tenets were not only tailored to conserve bio-diversity of the area but also ensured a healthy eco-friendly social life for the community.

Out of the 29 tenets, 10 are directed towards personal hygiene and maintaining good basic health, seven for healthy social behaviour, and five tenets to worship God. Eight tenets have been prescribed to preserve bio-diversity 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.

In 1730, 363 Bishnoi men, women and children led by Amrita Devi died protecting trees from cutting by the king's men. This incident happened in Khejarli which is a village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India 26 km south-east of the city of Jodhpur. The Bishnois sacrificed their lives while protecting trees by hugging to them.


Bishnoism was founded by Guru Jambheshwar of Bikaner, who was born in 1451, and is buried in Talwa/Mukam in Bikaner. His spiritual name was Jambhaji. He left his followers a scripture in the Nagri character called Shabdwani which consists of 120 SHABDS.[2][3][4]

Places of pilgrimage[edit]

The most prominent places of pilgrimage of the Bishnois is situated at village called Mukam in Nokha Tehsil, Bikaner District, Rajasthan.[5][6]

29 Rules in English[edit]

Their key rules for living are:[7][8]

  1. Observe 30 days' state of untouchability after child's birth
  2. Observe 5 days' segregation while a woman is in her menses
  3. Bath early morning
  4. Obey the ideal rules of life: Modesty
  5. Obey the ideal rules of life: Patience or satisfactions
  6. Obey the ideal rules of life: Purifications
  7. Perform Sandhya two times a day
  8. Eulogise their God, Vishnu, in evening hours (Aarti)
  9. Perform Yajna (Havan) every morning
  10. Filter water, milk and firewood
  11. Speak pure words in all sincerity
  12. Adopt the rule of forgiveness and pity
  13. Don't steal
  14. Do not condemn or criticize
  15. Don't lie
  16. Don't waste the time on argument
  17. Fast on Amavashya and offer prayers to Vishnu
  18. Have pity on all living beings and love them
  19. Do not cut green trees, save the environment
  20. Crush lust, anger, greed and attachment
  21. Accept food and water from our purified people only
  22. Provide a common shelter for male goat/sheep to avoid them being slaughtered in abattoirs
  23. Don't sterilise ox
  24. Don't use opium
  25. Don't take smoke and use tobacco
  26. Don't take bhang or hemp
  27. Don't take wine or any type of liquor
  28. Don't eat meat, remain always pure vegetarian
  29. Never use blue clothes

Further information[edit]

  • The Bishnois, ecologists since the 15th century[9] a book by photojournalist Franck Vogel
  • The Bishnois: India's eco-warriors (Rajasthan, l'âme d'un prophète) (52 min, France 5, 2011)[10] a documentary film directed by Franck Vogel and Benoit Ségur.


  1. ^ "The Desert Dwellers of Rajasthan – Bishnoi and Bhil people". 2004. Retrieved 19 Mar 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Jambhoji: Messiah of the Thar Desert,1998, author M.S.Chandla
  4. ^ The Bishnois,(2001), ASIN: B004HQ08BE
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "29-Rules". Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  8. ^ "List of 29 Principles". Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Bishnois information on
  10. ^ Bishnois film trailer by France 5 TV channel

External links[edit]