India’s constitution speaks of the “India that is Bharat.” The main traditional name for India is Bharat or Bharata Varsha. The Bharatas were the dominant people of the Rigveda whose central land was the Vedic Sarasvati River in the Kurukshetra region.
Bharatas were a branch of the Purus, one of the five Vedic peoples along with the Yadus, Turvashas, Anus and Druhyus. Bharatas were also closely connected with the Ikshvakus.
The Kurus and Panchalas were branches of the Bharatas. The great epic Mahabharata reflects the history and teachings of the Bharatas and a civil war in the Kuru dynasty.
Bharata Varsha had sixteen janapadas or kingdoms from South India to the Himalayas from Afghanistan to Southeast Asia mentioned in Vedic, Buddhist and Jain texts.
The people of India are called Bharatiyas. The traditional term for Indian civilization is Bharatiya Samskriti, with the term Samskriti referring to culture.
The term India derives from the term Sindhu or river in the Vedas in which India was also called Sapta Sindhu or the land of the seven rivers. The same term occurs in the ancient Zoroastrian Zend Avesta as Hapta Hindu, and in the later name for India as Hindustan, the land of the rivers. The term Hindu derives from this as well, though the traditional name for Hinduism is Sanatana Dharma or the Eternal Dharma, which better describes it.
To reclaim India’s ancient civilization one must honour India as Bharat and its civilization as Bharatiya Samskriti, which is also rooted in the Sanskrit language and its terminology. This would put an end to the confusion of when India began and which peoples created it and were part of it. All of this precedes the British and Muslim periods in India by thousands of years. India’s independence is Bharat rising again today.
Bharat Mata Ki Jai!