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Is it India, Hindustan or Bharat?
What is INDIA?
The current name of our country, “India” comes from the river Indus. The Europeans addressed us as the ones who lived on the other side of the Indus river. So we became ‘Indians’ and our country became ‘India’.
There is another name for our country called ‘Hindustan’. We think that this comes from the fact that the people of India were Hindus. And the place where Hindus live should be called Hindustan. “Hindu” comes from the Persian Arabic interpretation of the Indus river which was called Sindhu in our ancient days. This was what we were told.
But contrary to these viewpoints, the word ‘Hindu’ is found in our scriptures even before the references to Persians. There are multiple interpretations of this word. Few people refer it as the region between the Himalayas (Hi) and Indu Sarovar (Indu)which is the present-day Indian Ocean. This pretty much gives us the geographical reference to the land of our country.
Barhaspatya Sutra says:-
हिमालयं समारभ्य: यावत् इंदु सरोवरं |
तं देवनिर्मितं देशं हिंदुस्थानं प्रचक्षते ||
Starting from the Himalayas and extending up to the Indian Ocean is the nation built by Gods, Hindustan.
As a contradiction, a few people believe this appearance of the ‘Hindustan’ word in Barhaspatya Sutra is due to the distortion of our scriptures by invaders to suit their agendas, but currently, this is what is accessible to us. Probably there are other versions and interpretations of it too.
As per Vishnu Purana,
उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य: हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् |
वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम: भारती यत्र संततिः ||
The land (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata.”
Now who is Bharata? Most people think Bharata is the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala, who is the ancestor of Pandavas and Kauravas. But Bharata(India), is named after another Bharata who appeared in our history.
Vishnu Purana further says,
ऋषभो मरुदेव्याश्च ऋषभात भरतो भवेत् |
भरताद भारतं वर्षं, भरतात सुमतिस्त्वभूत् ||
Rishabha was born to Marudevi, Bharata was born to Rishabh,
Bharatavarsha (India) arose from Bharata, and Sumati arose from Bharata.
Another interpretation of Bharata is the grammatical inference of the word Bharata itself. In Sanskrit, ‘Bha’ means ‘knowledge/light’ and ‘rata’ means ‘devoted to’. We all know our country was the center of knowledge and wisdom centuries ago. So the name ‘Bharata’ is a reference to this.
Most of the concepts in Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas, Ramayana, and Mahabharata are based on the premise of ‘Dharma’. Though there isn’t any word in English that can come close to explaining the correct meaning of ‘Dharma’, it can be translated as righteousness. Hence, the culture of our country is called ‘Sanatana Dharma’, which means, ‘the eternal and natural way of living. The culture of our country has been Dharma-based which is universal for all the people irrespective of their sects, gender, and gotra lineage. The Sanatana Dharma includes present-day Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. Or in other words, it includes whoever stays in the land of Bharata and embraces Dharma.
The land of Bharata started from the Himalayas down South to the Indian Ocean. Bharata and its many parts were ruled by many famous dynasties. These dynasties contributed immensely to the art, culture, architecture, science, technology, literature, spirituality and many other fields of the country. Here are some of the famous dynasties of Bharata:
1. Mahajanapadas- 600 BC to 325 BC (275 years)
2. Haryanka- 544 BC to 492 BC (52 years)
3. Shishunaga -413 BC to 345 BC (68 years)
4. Nanda- mid 5th century BC to 322 BC ( 100 yeas approx.)
5. Maurya- 322 BC to 184 BC (138 years)
6. Sungas- 184 BC to 75 BC (109 years)
7. Kanva- 73 BC to 28BC (45 years)
8. Satavahanas- 200 BC to 300 CE (about 450-500 years)
9. Pallavas- 275 CE to 897 CE (622 years)
10. Kadamba- 345 to 540 CE (195 years)
11. Cholas-300 BC to 1279 CE (979 years)
12. Guptas- 4th to 6th century CE (200 years)
13. Pandya 6th to 10th Century CE (Later Pandyas-13th to 14th century CE) (500 years)
14. Cheras 2nd century BC to 5th century CE Later Cheras 9th to 12th century CE (1000 years)
15. Rashtrakutas 6th to 10th century CE (400 years)
16. Chalukayas 6th to 12th century CE (600 years)
17. Palas- 750 CE to 1161 CE (411 years)
18. Loharas 1003 CE to 1302 CE (290 years)
19. Hoysalas 1026 to 1343 CE (317 years)
20. Vijayanagara 1336 to 1646 CE (310 years)
Bharata was subject to various invasions from time to time. Alexander, Greeks, various nomadic tribes, and others invaded various parts of the country. Until the time of the invasion of Ghori and Ghazni and the establishment of the Delhi sultanate in the 12th century CE, Bharata was able to resist most invasions and preserve the essence of the cultures left behind by various dynasties over centuries. The beauty of our country is that though almost all territories of the world have been invaded and colonized, Bharata has been one of the few civilizations which have been able to preserve its native culture over centuries, albeit with a lot of cultural distortion. On the contrary, most civilizations have been lost over centuries through invasions like Mesopotamian, Mayan, Mississippians, Greeks, Romans, etc. That is the true indicator of how strong our culture and traditions are.
With our country having such a vast history and legacy of many famous warriors and rulers, it is the duty of each one of us to know about those who have played major roles in making India what it is today. Our social studies and history textbooks only teach us a single line/paragraph about each of these dynasties. In many cases, they are not even mentioned. Bharata had flourished under each of these dynasties in different ways. They all ensured we were ahead of our times in many fields through our gurukul education system.
If we hope to take present-day India to higher levels, it is our duty to know about our history and take their legacy forward!
P.S. The history of Bharata is vast. I have compiled the list of dynasties as per my knowledge and resources. Only major dynasties have been listed. There were innumerable other dynasties present in India that have contributed to making what India is. Secondly, there may be a few discrepancies with regard to the time period of each dynasty. In many cases, no definitive evidences are found and approximate periods have been considered.
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