Shree Guru Jambheshwar Bhagwan 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.
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 principles into religious commandments so that people can internalise those principals easily.
Bishnoi translates as Twenty-niners and 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.
29 Rules or commandments of Bishnoi community:
1. To observe segregation of the mother and newborn for 30 days after delivery . To prevent infection to the mother and the baby during a stage when both are highly susceptible to outside infections. Also to provide forced rest to the woman when she is very weak
2. To keep woman away from all activities for 5 days during her menstrual periods .To provide compulsory rest to the woman.
3. To take early morning bath for daily personal hygiene.
4. To maintain both external and internal cleanliness and remaining content .Internal cleanliness means good intentions, humble behavior, character without envious feelings, etc.
5. To meditate twice a day i.e. morning and evening .
6. To sing the Lord Vishnu’s glory and reciting His virtues every evening.
7. To offer daily oblation to the holy fire with a heart filled with feelings of welfare, love and devotion .Daily (preferably morning) oblations with:
Feelings of welfare of all living being
Love for nature and whole world
Devotion to the Lord
8. Use filtered water, milk and carefully cleaned fuel/ firewood .To make the water and milk bacteria free! In case of firewood to see that some insects etc. do not get burned with the fuel and pollute the environment.
9. Filter your speech! Think before you speak.
10. To be forgiving in nature. Forgiveness is a parameter of greatness. This one virtue could uplift a normal person to the standards of great souls of the world. Guru said further, if somebody come to you shouting, become cool like water!
11. To be compassionate. Compassion helps in purifying the heart..
12. Not to steal trying to own someone else’s things through cheating, or stealing is theft. Theft is the dirt of the character. It pinches the soul.
13. Not to revile/ condemn someone .Reviling means insulting stealthily or disparaging behind the back.
14. Not to tell lies. A liar can never attain respect of others. It is insult to the gift of speech..
15. Not to indulge in opprobrium .One should not indulge in any unnecessary/ wasteful debates. All such discussions/ deliberations, which are anti-social, anti-human fall under this category.
16. To observe fast and meditate on no-moon night (and the same day i.e. Amavsya) To provide rest to the body and its internal systems.
17. To recite the holy name of Lord Vishnu.
18. To be compassionate towards all living beings.
19. Not to fell green trees.
20. To kill the non-perishables! To overcome the non-perishable enemies of human beings – lust, anger, envy, greed and attachment.
21. To partake food cooked by self or other religious person or one who is pure by heart and work.
22. To provide a common shelter (Thhat) for goat/sheep to avoid them being slaughtered in abattoirs .
23. Not to have bulls castrated .In rural India, bulls are castrated before they are used as bullocks for agricultural purposes.
24. Not to partake of opium, or any product made out of opium.
25. Not to use tobacco and its products.
26. Not to partake of cannabis.
27. Not to drink liquor.
28. Not to eat meat or non-vegetarian dishes .The underlying rationale of this commandment are two pronged .To protect the animals/birds from being slaughtered by creating a market barrier! To protect the man, the best creation of the nature, from stooping to such low standards as eating meat of dead animals/birds. Scientifically also the structure of man’s teeth, jaws etc. is of not a carnivorous animal but is that of a herbivorous creature.
29. Not to use blue-coloured clothes In ancient India, the blue colour used to be obtained from indigo. Thus it is possible that the Guru wanted to stop destruction of this wild shrub or promote its cultivation in lieu of other life supporting crops.