Over the past 500 years, the Bishnoi tribe of India has kept its ancient tenets and principles, which were left by their ancestors. They live in harmony with nature, harbor love for all life forms, and consider trees their friends…
Nature is home, animals are friends
One of the tenets of the Bishnoi stated that hunting and killing animals including both pets and wild animals is prohibited. They also set their own regulations over behavior with these animals.
For instance, when seeing wounded animals, the Bishnoi would take them home and give these animals to monks to cure before releasing them back into nature. Bishnoi women are also ready to nurture abandoned animals such as deer or antelope and so forth. Thus, it is not abnormal to see animals breastfed together with children in the villages of this tribe. When animals grow, they become close friends of the children.
From an early age, children are taught not to hurt or kill animals. Particularly, Bishnoi is always ready to share their scarce sources of food with all species of animals on this barren desert. Bowls containing water, cereals, or vegetables are scattered on village roads and at the forest edge so that animals can eat freely.
The Bishnoi raise some cattle such as cows and goats in order to get milk or as means of transportation rather than slaughtering for meat. When these animals get older and weaker, they continue to take care of them until they die naturally.
The Bishnoi also established regulations on the treatment of plants. They never cut down or uproot green trees to get wood for building or fuel. Instead, they just make use of dead trees or dried branches for fuel and cooking. If there is not enough firewood to use, they will dry cow manure for fuel rather than cutting trees.
In 1847, when the Royal army went to Bishnoi forests to cut down trees for the construction of a new palace, the Bishnoi strongly protected their forests. However, they did not confront the army with violence but called for those soldiers to stop cutting trees. Ultimately, 363 Bishnoi people were killed in an effort to save the trees.
A simple but happy life
The life of the Bishnoi tribe is truly simple but its costume is very eye-catching. This is because the tribe believes that women stand for creativity, so women’s clothes should include bright colors such as orange, red, and blue. They also wear nose jewelry. Meanwhile, Bishnoi men wear white clothes because it signifies humility and frugality and sense of responsibility for families.
The Bishnoi live on agriculture. When a couple gets married, they have to settle their own lives with empty hands on barren land. Actually, they will dig wells to get water to grow crops including vegetables. Wives would take responsibility for budget management while the husbands shoulder making a living.
Moreover, the Bishnoi usually gathered like clans in hamlets called Dhanni. It consists of just a few round huts with thatched roofs and the walls are made of mud or they can also be thatched. According to the Bishnoi, this construction approach provides fresh air, especially under the harsh conditions of the desert.
The Bishnoi tribe is particularly clean. Despite living in the Thar desert with a shortage of water, they bathe on a daily basis. Actually, most of the people conserve water, but they still use a certain amount of water on their plants.
In general, it looks like the Bishnoi are not rich, but surprisingly everyone feels satisfied and happy. They never complain and always welcome and accept any gift that is bestowed by life. Also, instead of being disappointed or lamenting the past, they just smile contentedly with what has happened.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) April 30, 2016
Many people have affirmed that the Bishnoi do not attach much importance to material things, thus, they do not feel deprived. Some said that because of the close connection with nature and a willingness to share with all species, they have the power of “Compassion.”
In any case, it is understandable that the key to happiness for this 500-year-old tribe does not lie in the material life but in the mind. That inner world is always filled with love and gratitude, so it is never poor and needy.
The photos below show the happy life the Bishnoi live with other species.