Guru Jambheshwar (b. 1451) is the founder of the Bishnoi community. Before his death, he had laid down 29 principles to be followed by the sect. Killing animals and felling trees were banned. Before his death he has stated that the black buck was his manifestation after death and should be conserved.
29 Rules or Commandments of Bishnoi Community
Sr. No. Rule Explanation Remarks
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 For woman
2 To keep woman away from all activities for 5 days during her menstrual periods To provide compulsory rest to the woman
(also, considering the poor hygiene levels in those days or even today in rural India)
For woman
3 To take early morning bath daily Personal hygiene
4 To maintain both external and internal cleanliness and remaining content Internal cleanliness meansà good intentions, humble behavior, character without envious feelings, etc.
5 To meditate twice a day i.e. morning and evening (times when night is being separated from the day) Morning meditation to ponder over the proposed activities of day, whether my actions are right, moral or am I going to do something against my life values. Also, to pray the lord for directions and power to move ahead in the life path.
Evening meditation to take a stock of day’s activities, whether I made any mistake? Did I hurt somebody? Whether I spent the day in constructive activities or just wasted this valuable time?
Some authors say thrice a day
6 To sing the Lord’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:
1. Feelings of welfare of all living being
2. Love for nature and whole world
3. 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. don’t 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. It is opposite** to the forgiveness (Refer rule 10 and end note) in a sense that in forgiving, we keep our heart and mind cool against some external stimuli, whereas in compassion, we imbibe the feelings of the helpless. We put ourselves in the shoes of victim (of some other external circumstance, assault, stimuli) and acting accordingly.
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. This is different from open criticism. Criticism is done openly with an objective of the improvement, whereas the objective of reviling/condemning someone is only to malign the victim’s image/position in the eyes of listener or the community. Condemning is an act of cowards and done out of envy and/or hatred.
14 Not to tell lies A liar can never attain respect of others. It is insult to the gift of speech. There was a time, when even the court used to accept the testimony of Bishnoi men as hard evidence
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. It is to be noted that the Guru has not proscribed / banned a healthy debate on issues concerning the welfare of all.
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. This day of the month has a special significance from astronomical and planetary science’s point of view. In addition, the regular fading of the moon’s appearance is also symbolic of the perishable nature of life. So in this context, one should not waste his/her energy in the daily routine work but should ‘charge’ his /her energy level and introspect & ponder over the collective welfare
17 To recite the holy name of 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 viz. lust, anger, envy, greed and attachment.
21 To partake food cooked by self/ 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 No Bishnoi should sell a male goat/sheep because these could be used for slaughtering purposes. Hence, he should send them to Thhat’s where the whole community provides feed and shelter for them. In later years, most Bishnoi’s got out of the business of rearing goats/ sheep, etc.
23 Not to have bull’s castrated In rural India, bulls are castrated before they are used as bullocks for agricultural purposes. Guru prohibited this activity for his disciples. The underlining feeling behind this commandment is that Bishnoi’s rear the bovines like their son/daughters and getting them castrated through a painful procedure portray nothing but cruelty.
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
1. To protect the animals/birds from being slaughtered by creating a market barrier!
2. 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. Interestingly, if the meat eating would have been that superior, why even the non-vegetarian people eat meat/ eggs of the herbivorous animals/birds and not that of carnivorous animals/birds?
29 Not to use blue colored clothes In ancient India, the blue color used to be obtained from indigo. Thus it’s possible that the Guru wanted to stop destruction of this wild shrub or promote its cultivation in lieu of other life supporting crops. Blue is the color of death, poison (Indian Mythology- Lord Shiva). It is also thought that the blue color does not reflect the harmful ultraviolet rays but absorbs them, which is a major health hazard.
Note: in some literature of BishnoiSamaj, these rules are clubbed bit differently. However, in totality every version has all these elements.


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