- Changing to our cultural and civilizational name will give a lot of self-confidence and sense of pride among Bhartiya.
The 2022 Social Science Committee of the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has suggested that ‘India’ should be called “Bharat” in all Social Science textbooks up to Class 12. It may be implemented in the next academic year. The very thought of this brings a sense of pride and jubilation. A long-awaited dream. You feel as if the dark cloud of colonialism is gone. As if your “Mother Land” has regained the pride she deserved for an extraordinarily long time. The word Bharat is defined as the “ethos of our great ancient civilization.” It evokes a sense of radiance, embodying core human values of metta knowledge, and oneness.
According to the Article 1 of the Constitution of India states that “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” India’s Constitution recognizes both ‘India’ and ‘Bharat’ as the official name of the country. During the adoption of the constitution, there was no consensus over the name of the country, so India was adopted as the name, but it was defined as “Bharat” to link it with our ancient Vedic culture.
During the G20 meeting in Delhi on Sept 9 and 10,2023, the official dinner hosted by President Draupadi Murmu used the word “Bharat” instead of India in her official invitation. This has created a lot of discussions among the political circles and the general population in India (Bharat) and Indians (or Bhartiya) living abroad.
It is remarkably interesting and intriguing for everyone to know why India should be called Bharat. Bharat is a land of one of the oldest and richest civilizations in the world, a land of Rishi-Munis, a land of spirituality, an educational hub that gave the Vedas, Ayurveda, and Yoga to the world, and a center of art and culture from time memorial.
Rishi Bhartamuni, a composer of Natyashastra called it Bhartiya Natyashastra. Bharata is a land of many natural resources, plenty of sunlight, good rainfall, an economic powerhouse, great architecture, and trading heaven. Bharat was considered a land of opportunities. Vasco da Gama and Columbus traveled through rough seas in search of this land of spices and gold.
Bharat was an educational hub of Ayurveda, metallurgy, casting, sculpting, and forging metals for tools, weapons, artifacts, etc. It taught the world about pottery. It had the world’s biggest and oldest universities — Nalanda, and Taxila. Bharat was the pharmacy of the world.
Students from all over the world came to Bharat for education. In the Chinese view, this was the land of wisdom and called it “Tianzhu” a heavenly center for Buddhism and science. Bharat gave Artha Shastras by Kautilya which is taught in the U.S. Army.
Bharat provided shelter to people worldwide regardless of their ethnic or religious background. Judaism was the first religion to arrive in Bharat. Jews were never persecuted in Bharat.
Vishnu Purana says Bharata is the land of “work” where men and women go to heaven or obtain emancipation. The name of our country has always been Bharat amongst the cognoscente.
Meaning and History Bharat
The Word Bharat is found in Vedic scripture – root Bhra (भ्र) in Sanskrit means which maintains or bear- which means“ भरती, पुष्णातिइतिभारतम- “जोसबक़ाभरणपोषण्करताहै ” or one who provides sustenance to community. “Bha” means light-bright — it is the root name like Bhanu, Bhaskar — which is connected to the Sun, and could also mean Knowledge and enlightenment. “Rati” means pleasure, joy, delight, and desire. Bharta means the “one indulging in light, the shining one that pursues light (Knowledge).
Jambudvipa was used to describe the territory of Greater India in Ancient Indian Scriptures. The term is based on the concept of dvīpa, meaning “island” or “continent” in Ancient Indian cosmogony. The term Jambudvipa was also used by Ashoka to represent his realm in the third century BCE.
The Bharat name originates from the Sanskrit word” Bharata” which means Agni or fire. Another meaning is Aditya (sun), Bharat is also another name of Arjuna and Manu. Bhagwan Rishabhdev, also known as Adinath, was the first Tirthankar of the third era of this current time cycle. He was also the first King of the third era. He had taken 12 births before he became the first Tirthankar (supreme preacher) of Jainism and established the Ikshvaku Dynasty, his son was also called Bharat. In our Vedic scripture, there was a whole community with the name Bharta.
In Rigveda, the son of Shakuntala and Dushyant was called Bharat. Shakuntala was the daughter of Rishi Vishvamitra, the first human to become Rishi. Rishi Vishvamitra called the people living on this land “Bharatham Janam.” King Dashrath’s son was also Bharat. (In Ramayana). Bharata is presented as a symbol of our Dharma. Kauravas/Pandavs were called “Bharat Vanshi.”
Origin of the word “India”
The name “India” is originally derived from the name of the river Sindhu (Indus). Sindhu River was a geographical identity; the land east of Sindhu was called Bharata. Because of the pronunciation differences, Persians called it Hindus for the people of the province at the lower Indus basin. The Greek explorer who came upon the Indus River for the Persian emperor took over the Persian name and passed it into Greek and they called it Indos Ἰνδός for the Indus River. The loss of the aspirate/h/ was due to the dialects of the Greek language. The French called it by “Ynde” or Inde or “Indie.” The name “India” then came back to English usage from the 17th century onward and may be due to the influence of Latin. Since this reminds people of colonial rule and many injustices done to us, many people would love it to be called Bharat instead of India. Many states in Bharat have changed their names – Bombay to Mumbai, Orissa to Odisha, Bangalore to Bengaluru and many countries – like Ceylon to Sri Lanka, Burma to Myanmar to name a few.
The name of our country has always been Bharat. How does it affect our present or future if we call it Bharat? Will it change our progress in any way? Bharat is the first country to land Chandrayan on the Southside of the Moon and has also launched Aditya L1 first space mission to explore the activities of the sun. We are progressing in every field and decreasing our dependence on other nations. We are becoming more self-reliant.
What is wrong with using “Bharat” in our own language, propagating our identity our language? Thus, changing to our cultural and civilizational name will give a lot of self-confidence and a sense of pride among Bhartiya. We can distort our history but cannot distort our civilization. Nations have weakened not because of their past but rather how they are taught, for the past many years, we have been taught to glorify our past injustices and forget our venerable history. The injustices have been deliberately made visible and celebrate the humiliation. Those who love our heritage when we eloquently say “Bharat” should be proud of it and the critics may call it what they please …the choice is obvious.
Bharat, a land of nurturing, a land of learning, a land of ultimate peace.
(Top image, courtesy Isha Foundation.)
Suresh Khanna is a practicing physician in New York and President of Hudson Ekal (Ekal Vidyalaya).