I am a jamun fruit tree and I live in a forest where the local tribals love nature! They used to call us trees their friends and they used to sing and dance around us. They were known as the Bishnoi tribe and this tribe were scattered over several parts of north India. But their livelihood came from our produce, they would sell or eat the fruit, they would use our branches for shade and if they had to build a hut they would cut only the branches that they needed and use our dry bark for firewood. But I have heard that there are others who don’t care about their trees and they are willing to cut them down. These people don’t realize that it is our roots that keep the nutrients in the ground and it is because of our roots that land erosion during the floods do not happen.
I remember the story of brave Amrita. She was a young Bishnoi girl and she was walking in the forest with her friends when she saw some guards from a distant kingdom enter the forest. The guards told the young girls that they had come to the forest to cut down a few trunks of trees because the king wanted the wood to build a summer palace . The girls panicked and immediately went and circled the trunks of the trees with their arms. The guards got angry and told the girls to stop hugging the trees and go back home.
Amrita said “ No , we are Bishnois and we love our trees and nature and we cannot let you cut down the tree. You will have to cut us down first.” Another young girl said “ We are Bishnois and we believe in doing “Chipko” to the tree. Chipko in our language means to hug the tree.
The guards furiously retorted “Please don’t do this, please don’t obstruct us from cutting down the tree – because the king has given his orders and we will be compelled to hurt you against our wishes !”
The next night the king heard the unfortunate story of these brave girls and passed through the forest. He had been shocked to hear about the merciless behavior of his guards. Expecting the little hamlet to be in gloom he was surprised to see the village celebrating.
“ We believe in preserving our forests Your Majesty , for us our forests are our life and our means to a livelihood. Our daughters have gone to a noble death but if they had not done what they had done yesterday they would not have been able to stop your men from cutting our most prized possession – our trees. The death of the trees is the death of mankind ! ”
“It is when I hear this story again and again” said the jamun tree “that I feel that my life has well been worth it !”