"Sir, saante rukh rahe toh bhi sasto jaan (If you have to lose your head while saving a tree, then also it is a worthy barter).”
This saying defines the Bishnoi society and stands testimony to how deeply the community loves the animals and the environment.
In 1998, Bollywood actor Salman Khan was shooting for Hum Saath Saath Hain in Rajasthan's Jodhpur. Between 26 September and 1 to 2 October that year, Salman and his friends would go hunting in the middle of the night. It was during those few days that three black bucks were killed.
It is quite possible that the issue may have never seen the light of the day had the Bishnois not filed a police complaint. The Bishnois never stepped back in the battle that stretched nearly 20 years. Finally, Salman was convicted and the other actors were acquitted.
Here is what you should know about the Bishnoi society – they love all species of deer like their own children and worship them. Let’s find out why the Bishnois relentlessly fought the 20-year-long battle.
Why Did the Bishnoi Society Fight This Legal Battle?
The Bishnois are from north India and have since generations strived to protect the biodiversity around them. Even though they are not a large community, they have always set an example in environmental welfare activities.
If you look up Bishnois on Google, you will find images of women breastfeeding young fawns along with their own babies. These images clear all doubts about how committed the Bishnois are to the cause of animal welfare.
The love for the wildlife drove the Bishnois to pursue the blackbuck killing case all these years.
The Bishnois Raise Fawns Like They Raise Their Own Babies
The Bishnoi society loves the fawns like they love their own children. It is not uncommon to spot deers strolling along with the local population in Rajasthan's Marwar village. The residents of Marwar say that the deers have become a regular part of their lives.
Women say that they feel responsible for the deers’ wellbeing, just the way they feel responsible for their offsprings.
Rules of the Bishnoi Society
The Bishnoi society does not believe in idol worship. But they follow 29 preset rules religiously. They are especially unrelenting in rules relating to the environment. Some of the principles they follow are:
- To practise forgiveness, patience and kindness
- To not steal, condemn or lie in any situation
- To be kind to animals
- To not cut green trees
- To abstain from consuming intoxicants
- To not eat meat
(This piece was originally published in Quint Hindi. Read the original story here.)