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Guru Jambeshwar, also known as Guru Jambhoji, (1451-1536) was the founder of the Bishnoi sect. He preached the worship of Hari, a name for 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.
Jambheshwar was born in a Rajput family of the Panwar clan in the village of Pipasar in 1451. He was the only child of Lohat Panwar and Hansa Devi. For the first seven years of his life, Jambheshwar was considered silent and introverted. He spent 27 years of his life as a cow herder.
Aged 34, Jambheshwar founded the Bishnoi sect. His teachings were in the poetic form known as Shabadwani.[page needed] He preached for the next 51 years, travelling across the country, and produced 120 Shabads, or verses, of Shabadwani. The sect was founded 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. Killing animals and felling trees were banned. The khejri tree (Prosopis cineraria), is also considered to be sacred by the Bishnois.
Bishnoism revolves around 29 commandments. Of these, eight prescribe to preserve biodiversity and encourage good animal husbandry, seven provide directions for healthy social behaviour, and ten are directed towards personal hygiene and maintaining basic good health. The other four commandments provide guidelines for worshipping God daily.
- Jambhoji: Messiah of the Thar Desert - Page xiii
- Jain, Pankaj (2011). Dharma and Ecology of Hindu Communities: Sustenance and Sustainability. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-40940-591-7.