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'Bharat’ has been known since ancient times as an eternal nation with a rich civilization and a spirituality-oriented culture that has influenced the entire globe. Bharat is the region of ‘Bharatagni’, the nectar giver that nourishes the people (Rigveda 5/11/1). Due to the influence of this Bharatagni, with six different seasons and three Saptasindhus, huge and small rivers flowing in different directions, this land laden with crops has remained fertile and the people have been getting their sustenance on this land. This sprawling land, full of natural resources nourished by Bharatagni, along with the humans who were always engrossed in the acquisition of knowledge, was started being addressed by the name of ‘Bharat’, a word synonymous with Bharatagni (Vishvamitrasya Rakshati Brahmedam Bharatam Janam – Rigveda 3/53/12).

While mentioning the regional boundaries of the country, it has been stated in Vishnu Purana that ‘Uttaram Yat Samudrasya Himadreshchaiva Dakshinam, Varshaam Tad Bharatam Naam Bharati Yatra Santatih.’ That is, the name of the region which is north of the sea and south of the Himalayas, is Bharat. The people living here are called ‘Bharateey.’ According to Chapter 37 in Skanda Purana, Rishabhdev’s son was Bharat, after whom this region was named ‘Bharat.’ Apart from this, the name Bharat gets strength from the name of Bharat, son of Shakuntala and King Dushyant in the Adiparva of Mahabharata. After the birth of Bharat, sage Kanva blesses him that he will become the Chakravarti emperor in the future and this entire region will be known as ‘Bharat’ after his name. According to Matsyapuran (114/5,6) due to feeding the people, the ruler of this country (Manu) is called Bharat. Bharat muni composer of Natyashastra, Rajarshi Bharat, and Dashrath’s son Bharat have been mentioned in various texts, and the word ‘Bharat’ is mentioned in Mahabharata as well. It is absolutely right to say that Bharat is an integral part of our people’s psyche. The word ‘Bharat’ itself means Lokpal and world protector. It is mentioned in the book Bharat Mahima that land of Bharat has always been sacred and loving.

The mythological significance of the name ‘Bharat’ is deeply embedded in the minds of our people. Bharat is not just a word but it is a mantra whose mere pronunciation, ‘bha + ra + t’, invokes all the three qualities of nature, i.e. ‘bha’ means sattva (light, knowledge), ‘ra’ means rajas and ‘ta’ means tamas, that is, the trinity powers are invoked. The glory of Bharat has been described with pride in our national anthem. ‘Jana Gana Mana Adhinayak Jai He, Bharat Bhagya Vidhaata’ – In this line, Bharat has been praised as a supreme divine power. In the country of Bharat, which gives the message of unity in diversity, people of different types of cultures, languages, creeds, and identities have been united under one flag. From this, it is clear that the natives of this land gave the name ‘Bharat’ to this country. It is noteworthy here that the word ‘India’ is a word used by foreigners in a geographical context about two and a half thousand years ago, which was much popularized by the British during British rule. The word ‘India’ reminds us of the slavish slavery mentality, the exploitation of the people of this country by the British, whereas, the word ‘Bharat’ represents the cultural heritage of this country, with the pronunciation of which the streams of knowledge, science, and values propounded by the Vedic sages start flowing spontaneously in our mind.

It is also pertinent to mention that in order to understand the real meaning of many words, it is most appropriate to use the native language grown from one’s own soil and not a foreign language. The name of any country is a reflection of its cultural and historical identity. We have always proclaimed and worshiped Bharat Mata considering her inspirational in the light of emotions, because that maternal feeling cannot be realized with the word India. The name India has no similarity with the language and culture of the country, nor does it have any ideological connection with its history. For inmates of Bharat, this fundamental question relates to a symbol of our mythological culture, national sentiment, and patriotism. Our identity, our context, and our existence are embedded in Bharat. The glorious history of our country and the real identity of its culture and civilization is hidden in the name Bharat itself. Although the land of Bharat has been known by different names like Jambudweep, Bharatkhand, Himvarsh, Aryavarta and Hindustan, the most popular name of our country, which is full of diverse culture, has remained Bharat only. The real identity of our country cannot be expressed with the word India. When the word Hindu went to the West, it got distorted in the Greek language and became Indu. During the time of Chandragupta Maurya, Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador, came to Patliputra and wrote a book on Bharat, named Indica. Since then the western countries have been addressing it by the name Indica or India. In reality, the basic essence of the word Bharat got subordinated, and in such a situation, the impact of the image of Bharat at the global level got equated with the name India. Many efforts have been made to change the name of our country back to Bharat. In 2004, a political party in its manifesto had promised to rename India as Bharat. In the years 2015 and 2020, a petition was also filed in the Supreme Court relating to this. Ultimately the Supreme Court was of the opinion that the decision on this issue would have to be taken in Parliament. To keep our language and culture intact and to enrich its pride, this is need of the hour that the name of our country remains Bharat, not only for us but for the entire world. We need to come out of slave mentality. Recently, on invitation card of G-20, ‘President of Bharat’ was mentioned instead of ‘President of India’ and during the G-20 summit, ‘Bharat’ was mentioned on nameplate in front of PM. Modi. These are laudable steps. The need of the hour is that instead of using the foreign word India, we should use the word ‘Bharat’ & all measures should be taken to bring Bharat into official use.


Prof Rama Shanker Dubey The writer is the Vice Chancellor, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar

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