Shree Guru Jambeshwar Bhagwan (born 1451 in a remote Rajasthani village Pipasar), also known as Jambho ji, was the founder of the Bishnoi sect. He preached the worship of Hari (a name for Lord Vishnu). He taught that God is a divine power that is everywhere. He also taught to protect plants and animals as they are important in order to peacefully coexist with nature.
About Shree Guru Jambeshwar Bhagwan
Jambho ji, was born in a Rajput family of Panwar clan 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 the first seven years of his life, Jambho ji was considered silent and introverted. He spent 27 years of his life as a cow herder like Lord Krishna, with whom he shared a birthday.
At an age of 34, Jambho ji founded the Bishnoi sect. His teachings were in the poetic form known as Shabadwani. Although he preached for the next 51 years, travelling across the country, only 120 Shabads, or verses of Shabadwani, are available at present. Even these 120 shabads are a source of great wisdom and are sufficient 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 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 commandments provide guidelines for worshipping God daily.
The Bishnoi community observes socio-religious gatherings known as Melas twice a year at Mukam, where Guru ji’s mortal frame was consigned to the earth in 1536 A.D.
Jambho ji was a great visionary, who had foreseen 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.
The sect was founded by Shree Guru Jambeshwar Bhagwan (b. 1451) after wars between Muslim invaders and local Hindus. He had laid down 29 principles to be followed by the sect. Bish means twenty and noi means nine. Thus, Bishnoi translates as Twenty-niners. Killing animals and felling trees were banned.The Prosopis cineraria tree (Prosopis cineraria), is also considered to be sacred by the Bishnois.
Shree Guru Jambeshwar Bhagwan also known as Jambhoji was born to a Kshatriya family in Pipasar village of Nagaur district of Rajasthan in year 1451 vikrami samwat 1508, Krishna (black) 8th day of Bhadarpad month (the same day of Krishna’s birth). His old father shri Lohat Ji Panwar was very sad when commented by a farmer for not having children up to 50 years of age. Then he started tapsya and was blessed by a yogi for a son who will be different from others. Same time his wife Hansa Devi was also blessed by the same yogi for a son.
Considering the blessings of yogi, miracle powers of Jambo Ji, Guru Ji’s shabads, Jambheswar ji is popularly considered Vishnu sawrup (part or incarnation of Vishnu). The young Jambh Raj did not drink milk from his mother's breast and did not speak in early childhood. He told first shabad (Guru chinho guru chinh purohit…..) to a Brahmin called to cure his dumbness.
The young Jambh dev was simple but a genius, kind, liked loneliness and did many miracles. He did not marry and used to graze cows. At the age of 34 he left his home and belongings and started preaching at a sand dune called Samrathal Dhora. He was very keen in social welfare and helping others. In year 1485 there was a worst drought in western Rajasthan area and people started migrating to malwa (MP) with their animals. The kind-hearted Jambha ji was sad to see people’s pain. He then offered his help to the drought affected people to hold them back. People agreed and Jambha Ji helped them with grain, food, fodder, seed, agriculture accessories, etc. He also used his miracles' powers to help people in need.
That period was a dark period of Hindu dharma. Hindus of that area were suffering from external invaders, religion conversions as well as internal bad practices. Hindus were became either irreligious or blind faith or worshiping many god, goddesses in frustration and victimised by hypocrite sadhus. People were involved in malpractices, immoral activities, selfishness, sins, stupidity etc.
To help suffering people of that time and save religion, Guru Jambheswar Ji founded Bishnoism in year 1485 (Vikram samwat 1542, Krishna 8th of Kartik month) on the sand dune (Samrathal Dhora) after performing havan.
Bishnoism was based on main 29 principles and best practices taken from hinduism. Followers had various professions and class accepted Bishnoism by taking pahal (sacred water) and became Bishnois. Guru Ji’s teachings were very simple, logical, practical and effective. He believed in one god and did not believe in statue worshiping or man worshiping or leaving social responsibilities to achieve god.
His way was, "JIYA NE JUKTI AUR MARIYA NE MUKTI" meaning a meaningful way of living and then moksha after death. He travelled a lot to help and teach people and done many welfare works. He was a true & visionary guru, social reformer, follower of non violence, great environmentalist and believed in love and harmony among not only human beings but also among nature.
His teachings are covered by 29 principles, 120 shabads and sandhya mantra. Many kings and reputed persons came in his contact and admired his teachings. He also helped many of them with his blessings.
Guru Jambheshwar Ji left this world at the age of 85 in year 1536 (vikrami samwat 1593, Krishna 9th of Margshirsh month) at Lalasar and his body was buried in village Talwa (now famous as Mukam) of Bikaner. Every year two melas are held here, one on Amawas (no moon night) of Falgun month and another on amawas of Ashvin month.
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
Bishnoi 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.
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. Jambeswar…
Bishnoism is the most practical, simple, eco-friendly sect of Hindu Dharma founded by great visionary saint Guru Jambheshwar Ji in year 1485 AD (Vikram Sanwat 1542, Kartik month, Krishna 8th) on a sand dune called Samrathal Dhora in Thar desert of western Rajasthan, India.
Based on 29 principles (tenets/commandants/rules), Bishnoism was the first religion emphasizing love, peace and harmony among not only human beings but also with mother nature, wild animals and trees. Guru Jambheshwar ji used religion to convey his message of living peacefully with love, and harmony with other faiths and nature.
Bishnoism teaches love, peace, kindness, simple life, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, hard work, good moral character, internal and external purity.
Bishnoism is a sect with difference which does not believe in statue worshiping, unnecessary rituals, man worshiping, castism but believe in karma, one God (Vishnu) and equal rights. Saint Guru Jambheshwar Ji gave such a simple way which ensures, "JEEYAN NE JUKTI AUR MARIYAN NE MUKTI" means worthwhile living and then Moksha/heaven after this life.
In addition to 29 rules, Guru Ji's teachings are a blend of best practices of all faiths & religions and are covered by 120 shabads which he said to different people at different time & location in various contexts.
Bishnois are nature lover people and live in harmony with their surroundings
The Sacrifice Place of Khejarli
Khejarli is a village in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan, India 26 km south east of the city of Jodhpur. The name of the town is derived from Khejri (Prosopis Cineraria) trees, which were abundance in the village.
In this 363 Bishnois, with Amrita Devi Bishnoi sacrificed their lives in 1730 AD, while protecting green khejri trees considered sacred by the community, by hugging to them, this incident is then first event of Chipko Movement in the history. Even sunder lal bahuguna agreed to the fact that he had been inspired by bishnoi community sacrifice. It was a party of Giridhar Bhandari, a minister with Maharaja Abhay Singh, ruler of Marwar (Jodhpur) state who wanted to cut the sacred green Khejri trees to burn lime for the construction of his new palace. Since there was a lot of greenery in the Bishnoi villages even in the Thar Desert, the king ordered his men to get the woods from Khejri trees.
Amrita Devi (Beniwal), A Bishnoi woman, protested against King's men who were attempting to cut trees as cutting tree it was strictly prohibited in Bishnoi religion. The malevolent feudal party told her that if she wanted the trees to be spared, she should give them money as bribe. She refused to acknowledge their demand and told them that she would consider it as an act of ignominy and insult to her religious faith. She said that she would rather give away her life to save the green trees. It is at this stage she spoke the words: "Sar santey rukh rahe to bhi sasto jaan", if a tree is saved even at the cost of one's head, its worth it. Saying these words, she offered her head. The axes which were brought to cut the trees, severed her head from the body. Her three daughters Asu, Ratni and Bhagu were not daunted and offered their heads as well and met the same end. Soon old persons, young men, women including newly married ones and children were sacrificing themselves in a similar way. There was intense pandemonium. As soon as Maharaja learnt it, he ordered stopped of felling trees. By that time 363 Bishnois had already become martyrs.
Honouring the courage of the Bishnoi community, Maharaja Abhay Singh, apologised for the mistake committed by his officials and issued a royal decree engraved on copper plate.
The great martyrs scarified their breathes for religious principle and faith. To remember their greatness and esteem sacrifice, those trees were given a new name after the village’s name and called Khejri. In Marwari Khejri is also called Janty(जांटी) to honor the courage and scarifies of great Bishnoi's who didn’t even care for their lives to save the Khejri tree. Janty(जांटी) is considered the most divine and pious tree in Rajasthan, which shows locals' respect for that great lady. In Rajasthan it is considered a sin to cut a green Janty tree, and it is considered a god-tree. In desert or semi desert, most of the lord Balaji temples are built under divine shadow of male Janty tree that is popularly known as जांट. Marwari word जांटी and जांट refers to greatness and contribution of Jat people in Bisnoi sect. Khejri or Janty is also state tree of Rajasthan.
The anniversary of the massacre is observed each year at village, which has now become an important tourist destination.
Lover of wild animals
Bishnois lived with trees and wild animals in the Thar Desert with complete harmony for centuries and have been fiercely protecting the trees & wild life in their areas to follow the teachings of their Guru Jambheshwar Ji.
This was not an easy task especially in the desert where water was a luxury commodity and trees could fetch same extra revenue but for Bishnois protection of wild life was a Dharma (religion).
Bishnois appealed to rulers/kings to make rules for banning tree cutting and hunting in their areas and fought cases in the courts to ensure the rules are followed by all.
But in the arid desert facing continuous droughts, the trees and wild animals were always temptations of others.
Time to time their faith was tested by rulers, poachers and others but Bishnois always protected the wild life even at the cost of their lives by braving the bullets.
Scores of Bishnois have sacrificed their lives for protecting wild life in Rajasthan.
Bishnois are extremely aggressive about their pacifism. Foremost in the community's pantheon of heroes are men and women who gave up their lives trying to save trees and animals.
On 3 October 1996, Nihal Chand Bishnoi, aged 30! sacrificed his life while chasing poaches to save life of black bucks. A film, Willing to Sacrifice, based on his story won the award for the Best Environment Film at the 5th International Festival of Films, TV and Video Programmes held at Bratislava, Slovakia.
Bhajans, Sakhi, Aarti
The Bhajans, Sakhi, Aarti of Shri Guru Jambheshwar Maharaj ji https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIZH1OlHpahLY-fhKdOLSvA
Amrita Devi Bishnoi Award is given every year by Environment ministry of government of India to a person who contribute towards protection of nature and wildlife.
- Jambhoji: Messiah of the Thar Desert - Page xiii
- http://www.bishnoivillagesafari.com/bishnoi_history.html Bishnoi history