Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amrita Devi and the Bishnois of Rajasthan

In the 1705 the Maharajah sent his soldiers to cut trees for the palace. Amrita Devi hugged the tree to prevent its destruction, the soldiers decapitated her. She was followed by other women who encountered the same fate at the hand of the soldiers. Amrita Devi's action and the action of another 366 Bishnoi women, children and men was to become the most profound expression of their commitment to their beliefs and Amrita and the others are martyred by the Bishnois to this day.
The Bishnoi community have lived in the Thar desert of Rajasthan in northern India for over 500 hundred years. Jambeshwar Bhagavan created 29 principles in the 15th century, a combination of Hindu and Muslim beliefs and practices, which are maintained by the Bishnoi to this day. Among them is an adherence to the discipline of leaving all trees and animals unharmed. Remarkably, they have adapted to their harsh conditions in a way that seems to do more than sustain them, they have achieved a level of coexistence with nature that satisfies their own needs and the needs of others even during periods of drought.

"Any change in the world has to begin within the society. All this talk about nature and wildlife protection would be more effective if each individual was to believe in the earth as a living, breathing entity and fight for its survival the way we do."J. Ram a member of the Bishnois community

No comments: