TODAY -

Bharat is older than India

Free Thinker *



The name Bharat is the oldest and was originally found in Rig Veda (2000-1500 BC). Sindhu is also there in the same text but not exactly the one in contention. Persians, Greeks, and Britishers gave different names to this land as Hindos, Indus, Indios, Indica, India, and so on and so forth.

Before Rig Veda, the Sumerians (Mesopotamians) called the Indus Valley region-Meluha (3500 BC). Again the name Meluha is foreign. So, the buck stops at Rig Veda (oldest of all Vedas) till the Harappan script (5000-2000) is deciphered properly.

Persians came in touch with Bharat in around 600-400 BC. They identified the land with the river Sindhu and called it Hindosh or Hindos. The Greeks came 300-100 BC and called the land Indios (must be a derivative of Indus or Sindhu). Greek Ambassador Megasthenes wrote Indica.

By chance, I was a student of history who specialized in the Ancient Period. Those who specialize in Ancient Bharat have the option of studying the Bramhi script. I was advised by one senior that if I offered ‘Brahmi’, I shall score good marks.

I still remember that Prof Dwivedi from Stephen’s hired by DU was teaching us Brahmi. I came to know that Sanskrit was written in Bramhi. Earlier four Vedas were in oral tradition and later on they were transcribed.

One girl has been explaining the meaning of “Bharat” (a Sanskrit word); she says, ‘bha’ means knowledge, and ‘rat’ means continuous learning. I am not a Sanskrit expert but I have found out from Sanskrit scholars that what she says is acceptable.

Dwivedi Sir used to smoke bidi even in class. The students who did not smoke sat in the back rows; those who smoked were sitting in the front rows - perhaps they were enjoying the smell of the bidi fumes. Dwivedi Sir sometimes forgot to bring his matchbox; so he used to get the matchbox from Yadav or Jha or me who regularly kept matchboxes (certainly not for Bidi).

Which one is older India or Bharat ? Obviously Bharat, then do we need to continue the debate. Yes , of course who is going to be more benefitted by using either of the term. Intelligent people like Shashi would like the use of the latter. If it is India vs Bharat in 2024 – that is a foregone conclusion.

In Rig Ved there is a mention of Bharat as a tribe or a clan who defeated 10 kings in ten battles. This is the earliest mention of Bharat in written text. In later years Bharat became Bharatversa in the Paranas and great epics. The size and magnitude of the land became sub-continental in ancient period itself.

During Harrapan times there were trade links with other ancient world – with the Sumerians and the Egyptians. They might have called the cities of Indus valley by different names. So far we have no evidence except Meluha as referred by the Sumerians.

If the President desires to use Bharat and if Prime minister also wants to use the same in their official invites and communications-what is wrong with that. There is hardly any issue about it. If the Opposition wants to use India – again there is no issue. Even if their alliance is called INDIA there is hardly any issue.

The UN Secretary-General Shri Antonio Guterres has been asked whether a member country can change its name. He said yes - he also gave the example of Turkey. Now the official name of Turkey is Turkiye. If a member country wants to change the name of its own country – they can do it. But they have to officially communicate the same to the Secretariat.

Devdutt is talking about a plural Bharat; this country is always plural in all respects. Lord Shiva is called by so many names–Mahadev, Bholenath, Adi Yogi, Pashupati, Maheswar, Lingam. So the choice is ours.

We must go for the most popular. Nothing is wrong with it. What is interesting is that amongst the Indus Valley seals, we find a seal that depicts a kind of a Yogi surrounded by animals like elephant, tiger, hippo , etc. Nationalist Historians want to call him Pashupati – the lord of animals ; in a way it may be a representation of Adi–yogi or the first yogi.

The name Bharat is already in use in lieu of the other word everywhere and wherever is required in the Hindi version of the Constitution. The only place where the other word 'India' is mentioned is in Article One. This can also be done away with by an amendment.

The nameplate of the host PM of G-20 confirms the favorite official name of the country-Constitutional too. I think that is final. But the issue remains whether it is Mata or Pita.

This was already decided a long time back –we are not Germans - in Akhand-desh, Mata is given prime importance. For instance, Ganga-nandan, Gandhari-nandan, Kunti-nandan. So, Mata ji getting only 33% is a misnomer.


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 11 September 2023.



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