Coincidentally after the opposition parties came together to form INDIA (Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance), the ruling BJP is desisting from the use of word India in official communiqués and its parent organizations RSS has issued a fatwa that only word Bharat should be used for our country. While inviting the representative’s participants of G 20, the President issued the invitation in the name of ‘Rashtrapati of Bharat’. Since then BJP is on the track of avoiding the use of the word India in all its pronouncements, saying this word smacks of colonial legacy since this word was given to the country by British colonial rulers. Mr. Hemant Biswa Sarma of BJP said that word India is part of the colonial legacy and should be removed.
RSS chief and other functionaries have intensified this message. Speaking at a function at Guwahati Mr. Bhagwat, stated “We must stop using the word India and start using Bharat. At times we use India to make those who speak English understand. This comes as the flow however we must stop using this.” There are attempts to show as if India and Bharat represent different streams of culture and parts of the country. Sometimes these worthies have also been seeing the country in two contrasting components like earlier statement of Bhagwat that ‘Rape takes place in India not in Bharat”. As per his totally false notion, Bhagwat claimed that rapes and gang rapes are restricted to ‘urban India’ with its Western culture and that such ‘things’ do not happen in rural India, where traditional values hold sway. The debate has been propped up again in the context of very pertinent and effective use of the word INDIA for its coalition by opposition parties.
As such the sources of the name of India are multifarious. AS civilizations are not static and things change with time and situation, even the names of continents, kingdoms and countries have transformed. We recall many sources of the two major names of the country. One is Bharat, which is rooted in the holy sources. In some sources we find other names like Jambudweep. This is found in the edicts of Ashoka also. Jambudweep stands for the Southern of the four continents around Meru, the center of these land masses. This is ratified by the Cosmological understanding also. This Jambudweep (After the Jamun (berry) tree,) includes Maldives, Nepal, Bangla Desh and Pakistan. Similarly Aryavarta is also used for the Ganga basin where the Aryans primarily settled after arrival here.
Reference to Bharat is mostly after the Bharat tribe and the Great King Bharat. In Rig-Veda (18th Hymn, seventh book) there is a mention of Dasrajan’s (Ten Kings) battle against King Sudasa, the king from Bharat tribe. Mahabharata mentions Bharat Chakrvarty (winning emperor) of Bharat dynasty as the ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas. Vishnu purana mentions Bharat Vansham, Bharat’s empire which includes today’s Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran among others. In Jain literature Bharat Chakravarty is the eldest son of first Jain Tirthankar (Founder).
The other series names are generally around the river Sindhu. Avesta mentions it as Haptahindu. Similarly Vedas at places mention it as Saptasindhu. Achaeminid (Persian) sources mention it as Hindush. Even before this; 4th Century BCE, Megathanese called it India, which transitioned into Greek called it Indike. This was the source of India in times to come. Those saying that it is a colonial legacy are unaware of the complex history of the genesis of the term India and have political motives now in refusing to use the Constitution’s nomenclature ‘India that is Bharat’.
Human civilizations are not static. Rather static civilizations cannot prosper and flourish. This was seen by those who were struggling against the Colonial Forces. That’s how Surendranath Bannerjee used the term, ‘India: Nation in the Making’, Gandhi began his paper ”Young India ”, Ambedkar formed his ‘Indian Labor Party’ and later laid the foundation of ‘Republican Party of India’. Use of the word India is not a colonial legacy in any way, the word was there much before the British East India Company came here for trade and plunder. This word also was used by anti-colonial movements. This is how the country was known in the World.
On the pretext of colonial legacy and Western influence, those wanting to stop usage of this word are deeply opposed also to the values of the transition towards democratic values of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Interestingly till a while ago the same forces used the word, India in abundant measure. Campaigns like ‘Made in India’, ‘Skill India’, and ‘My Clean India’ being few among them. In earlier election rallies also Modi did talk of ‘Vote for India’ times and over again.
‘India that is Bharat’ was a beautiful elaboration of continuity and change. While it retains the glorious aspects of traditions, it opens its arms to the changes which are in tune with times and which lay the foundation for Modern times in India.
Those formulating the Indian Constitution had no allergy to the word Bharat. It was heartily accepted as our soul. They did not think of a binary but conceptualized the reality of the country in modern times. This is very well reflected in the acceptance of the Anthem ‘Jan Gan Man’ by Gurdev Rabindrnath Tagore, which mentions, Bharat Bhagya Vidhata (controller of India’s destiny). In continuation with this Rajiv Gandhi, while dreaming of India of 21st Century, also gave the slogan of ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’ (My Great India, Bharat).
India is also how the World has been recognizing us. Interestingly the first person to oppose the use of India for us was Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Four weeks after we got Independence he wrote to the Governor General of India; Lord Mountbatten, objecting to usage of India for our country. ““It is a pity that for some mysterious reason Hindustan have adopted the word ‘India’ which is certainly misleading and is intended to create confusion.”, As per him India was the joint entity and after partition it ceased to exist. Can one say the present opponents of usage of word India are toeing Jinnah’s line on this matter?