To understand ‘Black Buck’ you need to understand “Bisnois” writes Madhulika Ra Chauhan:
I was having this banter with a particularly chatty foreigner the other day. What is this “Buck, Buck all about in India these days” he asked casually. Well ‘buck-buck or buk-buk can mean a lot of things, like incessant meaningless chatter, passing the buck, earning the buck so which buck are you referring to – Pearl S Buck ?”
“No, no certainly not Pearl S Buck she lays forgotten like our good Earth.” He exasperated.
“Yes, that’s true.”
“I’m referring to this certain ‘Black Buck’ which seem to have raised a certain fury of sorts”
Now I understood and I explained him thus.
“Well to understand about the ‘black buck’ you need to understand the context and pretext and then arrive at a conclusion. You see this certain black buck was killed and digested and then it gave a lot of trouble like all meat does.”
“To understand ‘Black Buck’ you need to understand “Bisnois” the nature protectors the ‘tree huggers’ if you will.”
Then I narrated the story further.
The Story of Bishnois
Bishnois also known as Vishnoi and Prahladapanthi, are a Hindu-religious sect found in the Western Thar Desert and northern states of India. They follow a set of 29 principles/commandments given by Guru Jambheshwar, a nature lover himself.
The famous story of ‘Tree huggers’ begins on the outskirts of Jodhpur in the village of Jalnadi, home of the Bishnois in the 1730 AD. The servants of the maharajah, travelled looking for timber to build his new palace. They arrived in Jalnadi a Bishnoi village, a religious sect that forbade the felling of trees. Their village stood out on the desert landscape for its lush abundance of timber. And not just any timber, but khejri trees or Prosopis cineraria, sometimes called a “wonder tree” or “king of the desert”. “You see,” they enriched the soil with nitrogen and other nutrients, necessary for growing crops, and providing shade, shelter and fodder for livestock.
A villager named Amrita Devi noticed the men wandering onto her land, cutting down her precious khejri trees. Outraged, she wedged herself between the axmen and a tree, hugging it with all her might. She is remembered as saying, “If a tree is saved from felling at the cost of one’s head, it should be considered a good deed”.
She is remembered as saying, “If a tree is saved from felling at the cost of one’s head, it should be considered a good deed”.
The men were not deterred, the lady was decapitated in front of her two daughters. Rather than retreating, however, Devi’s daughters followed their mother’s suit and clung valiantly to the trees. Within moments, they too were decapitated too. It was not long before the whole village rose up in revolt. An astonishing 363 people had been slaughtered by the time the maharajah intervened. He apologized and immediately issued a decree protecting the Bishnoi’s land from any future harm which is followed till date and the black buck is also a part of the protection.
‘Oh!’ he said sounding elated.
“But I hear that there is a lot of money riding on a certain Salmon, if he stays inside.” He interjected.
“He’s Salman Khan” I corrected him “not salmon” and yes a lot of money rides on his back. “You see he’s from the film industry and his movies make a lot of money.”
“Hmm,” he finally said at last perhaps understanding the situation a little better.
“Wait a minute,” he said just when I thought I had explained him enough.
“Shouldn’t we all become Bishnois? Perhaps then our ‘Good Earth’ will be lush again and perhaps Pearl S Buck will again turn in her grave.”
“Touché,” I said ending my conversation with the rather chatty man.
Madhulika Ra Chauhan, is an Indian author, whose debut short-story collection “The One Night Affair and Other Stories” has been well received. She has contributed stories to various anthologies. She writes regular articles for the e-zine. When not busy working for the corporate, she spends time reading and writing to her heart’s content. She currently lives in China with her super-curious son and super-busy husband. The views expressed are author’s own.