If the efforts of environmental protection in India will be traced in the past, then the mention of Bishnoi movement will always be in the forefront, Bishnoi movement is one of the first organised supporters of environmental protection, wildlife conservation and green life, which has given birth to many small and big movements and society. Influenced people to connect with the environment, understand and be compassionate towards its conservation.
Nature is God and God is nature. There are many rituals and religious practices in the country of India, which cannot be completed without natural resources or without the help of Mother Nature. The most important and effective effort to preserve this nature, if those who have made it is the Bishnoi society. If Bishnos are to be considered as the first environmentalists of India, then there should be no doubt in it. They are born nature lovers. In the history of environmental movements, it was this movement that first used the strategy of hugging and embracing trees for their protection and introduced the most unique quote of love of nature in the society.
Amrita Devi while leading 84 villages faced the king of Jodhpur:
The Bishnoi movement was started by the Bishnoi community in the early part of the 18th century in Rajasthan about 260 years ago. On the orders of the Maharaja of Jodhpur, a large group of 84 villages led by a woman named Amrita Devi confronted the King of Jodhpur and put their lives at stake.
The Bishnoi movement is one of the first organised supporters of environmental protection, wildlife conservation and green living. Bishnois are considered to be the first environmentalists of India. They are born nature lovers.
In the history of environmental movements, it was this movement that first used the strategy of embracing and embracing trees for their own protection. The movement of the famous Amrita Devi is considered to be one of the pioneer efforts for environmental protection.
A glimpse at the pages of history:
Amrita opposed the king with three daughters:
Raja Abhay Singh of Jodhpur, while building his new palace in the 1730s, ordered his soldiers to cut trees for timber in the village of Khejadli. As a symbol of protest, Amrita Devi along with her three daughters Asu, Ratni and Bhagu came out in protest and along with the community members stood against the soldiers and fought for their lives by clinging to the trees. Supporting them, others in this community also stood for the trees and wrapped their arms around the trunk. The soldiers continued to cut the trees without heeding the requests of the people.
Along with cultural importance, the environment was also the main source of their livelihood:
The main reason for opposing the felling of trees was rooted in the cultural belief of the Bishnoi community, as described in the principles of their sect, advocating tree protection and wildlife conservation. Another reason was immediately related to their rural livelihood, as they depended on the forest for fuelwood and fodder supplies.
363 Bishnois sacrificed their lives for the protection of Khejdi trees in Khejadli village
The Bishnois from Khejadli and other villages came to join the movement and hugged the Khejri trees one by one to protect the trees being cut at the cost of their heads. In this movement 363 Bishnois sacrificed their lives for the protection of Khejri trees in Khejadli village of Rajasthan.
Have a glance at the pic below depicting a memorial Commemorating 363 Bishnois who died for saving Green Trees Near Khejarli Village, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.
How did the Bishnoi movement shaped India’s Wild-life Protection Act & inspired other mammoth initiatives in the past like Chipko movements?
The Amrita Devi Bishnoi Wildlife Protection Award is a national award instituted by the government of India for wildlife conservation in the remembrance of Amrita Devi Bishnoi. The first Amrita Devi Bishnoi National Award for Wildlife Conservation was conferred on September 11, 2001, posthumously on Ganga Ram Bishnoi of Chirai village in Jodhpur, Rajasthan by the Union Environment &Forest Minister.
Ganga Ram was chasing some hunter who had killed a deer and was shot dead by the hunters. September 11 is celebrated as the National Forest Martyrs Day. The Bishnoi community spread over the Western parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh gained recognition in India after the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It inspired the Chipko movement of Uttrakhand.
Cash awards inclusion in this award:
The governments of Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh initially started the state-level Amrita Devi Bishnoi Award for contributions to the protection and conservation of wildlife. The award consisted of cash ₹25,000.
For turning the human psych towards environmental protection & mother nature this movement would be counted as the most impactable, unmatchable & courageous effort by any community in mankind.