That a woman feeds a baby animal is a rare event, rarer still is the practice of feeding a fawn along her own baby. If the pictures of women from Bishnoi tribe from Jodhpur, Rajasthan feeding and nursing their small ones alongside orphaned baby deer are not manufactured, the elements of wonder will prove rather overwhelming. It seems the pictures of women feeding both young ones are genuine. An Indian forest service (IFS) officer shared a picture of a woman feeding a fawn on the social media this week, which went viral on the internet.
Surely, the IFS officer unfamiliar with the religion, tradition and custom of the Bishnoi tribe, like most 'civilised' people, had reasons to be perplexed when he observed a woman belonging to the tribe was feeding a fawn. A little investigation into the religious history of the tribe would have enlightened him with the knowledge of philosophy behind the religion its followers practise. To them animals, particularly deer -krishnasar to be precise are like gods. They revere the animal and would go any length to protect one. In harmony with Nature, they have developed their lifestyle over more than 500 years.
It is their Guru Jambeshwar Bhagwan who in the 15th century preached protection of animals in need of help among 29 of his teachings or commandments. Modern societies today have societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals. Nations also have legislation to prevent such cruelties. But tribes like the Bishnoi have been inheriting the positive virtue of giving as much care and comfort to animals. The question of inflicting cruelty to animals does not arise at all. A school student from the tribe is quoted as saying that she grew up with orphaned baby deer like brother and sister. Her mother did not differentiate between her and the fawn raised in the family like one of its member. Quite a few pictures visited on internet corroborate the claim.
Then their history confirms how devoted they are to Nature. In 1730, they sacrificed 363 lives in order to save green date trees from the king of the area. Of the 29 tenets, eight directly concern biodiversity and ten personal good basic health and hygiene, seven healthy social behaviour. Only four tenets are devoted to worship of God. They are followers of Vishnu but like to be called Bishnoi.
So far as human quality is concerned on the strength of such unalloyed love for animal and respect for Nature, their superiority to many civilised people is indisputable. True, even today there are a few people who can think of life -the animal life in particular - from a different angle. Even in Dhaka one such young man has turned his home a shelter for injured stray dogs and cats. It began rather fortuitously but now has become one of his life's missions. Once the injured animals are treated and taken care of, they are not found wanting in expressing their gratitude.
It is no wonder that the Bishnoi sect brought the law suit against Bollywood actor Salman Khan for hunting krishnasar deer. Such tribes have a few things to teach others. Living in harmony with Nature is more relevant today in the face of global warming. So far as the conflict-torn world is concerned where trade war is making an inroad towards arm clashes, the Bishnoi principle of healthy social behaviour shows a way out from the conflicting interests.