Our country, Republic of India, was known as Bharata Khanda during the periods prior to the rulings of Mughal kings. After British rule, the name of the country has become India. In the epic Ramayana, the oldest Vanara is called as Jambava, or Jambavanta. He was one of the oldest in the Indian sub-continent, in the peninsular island area. Due to the familiarity, Rishis called it as Jambu Dweepa, an island portion on earth where Jambava, the oldest monkey used to move freely.

Bharata of Ramayana Era

Shri Rama with his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana went to the forest and his youngest brother Shatrughna became the acting king of the land for the purpose of administration only, under the instructions of Vasista Rishi. The other brother, King Bharatha had brought the pair of foot wear of Shri Rama, being failed in persuading him for returning back. King Bharatha placed those pair of foot wears in front of the empty throne, vacated by the late king Dasharatha, saying he is not interested to become the ruler. He went away to Nandi village for doing penance, stating he will return to the palace only after coming back of Sri Rama.

It was Vasista Rishi for the first time who named the landed area of this kingdom as Bharatha varsha in order to please Kaikeyi, the mother of King Bharatha. Some portion of the land was not under the rule of the present acting King Shatrughna, like the Dandakaranya, Panchavati, Ganga River, Bharadwaj Ashram and Sri Lanka. That portion of land under his custody is called Bharat Rajya or Bharatha Khanda. The initiative of any royal event commences with the vedic chants. It is called sankalpa. Here, Vasista Rishi administered the vow of protecting the country to Shatrughna, for the sake of Bharatha and on behalf of Shri Rama, but the throne was preserved empty. The chanting of same following vedic mantras could be seen always since vedic mantras would never change.

जंबू द्वीपे भारत वर्षे भरत खंडे ...

The name of Bharat is given by the sage Vasista to the land for the first time. Previously, the name for the child as Bharatha was also suggested by him and Dasharatha, the king had agreed for the same. Thus, during the Sun (Ikshwaku) dynasty, India got the name as Bharat.

Bharata of Mahabharatha Era

During lunar dynasty, the son of Dushyantha, called as Bharata, ruled. The field of Indian dancing flourished under the king and he literally stood for the same. His predecessors propagated the Indian dancing culture to the world. Later, during Vanaprastha, he went on to become Bharata Muni and wrote books on Indian dance form. It is called Bharatha Natya Shastra.

Whenever the King felt it as a favorable time to donate cash and honor the learned persons, Rishis, he used to conduct Ashwa medha yaga. After the decision to conduct Ashwamedha yaga, the King would not travel anywhere. Hence, the throne horse is used for the propaganda to collect donation and hence it is driven out of his palace with a citation tied to its forehead. It would move freely, within the land, called Bharat and finally return to palace with its protecting team and with collected donations.

After the Ashwamedha yaga, the throne horse is looked after well in the palace, till the next Ashwamedha is decided or a war has to be fought. There is a false propaganda of killing the throne horse during the rituals which never happens. Learned persons are invited to the rituals. But if anybody support killing of any horse or any living animal, then he is disqualified to be honored as a learned person, according to vedic scripture of kalpa sutras.

Bharata of Jain Era

The most common story regarding the origin of name Bharat is touted be from Bharata Chakravarthi. During the Jain era, there lived a king called Rishabhanatha and ruled the kingdom of Ayodhya. He had two sons, Bharata, the elder one and Bahubali, the younger one. After Rishabhanatha, Bharata inherited the throne. It so happened that Bharata was comparatively weak compared to Bahubali, whereas Bahubali was very strong. Due to his weakness, he was about to lose his kingdom.

At the same time, his younger brother Bahubali had left the palace to become a Jain thirthankar (monk) for penance. When he got the news of the failure of his elder brother, he returned to the palace and regained the entire empire which was under enemies’ control without a battle through non-violence. He then entrusted the entire empire back to his brother Bharata and declared him as the emperor Bharata Chakravarthi. Again, he left the palace as a Jain monk, propagating Jainism and it is he who gave and popularized the name Bharat to the Bharata Empire.

Tracing the Origin

The Bharat name may be traced as far back as to Ramayana. Three Bharata emperors are found in the Indian history, all who played the role of uniting a divided Indian empire and forming Bharat, or Bharatha.

Our Contemporary Era

In the Persian language, the people near Sindhu River, they are called as Indus people, and after British rule, the country as a whole registered its name as India. After Independence, the name, India is highlighted as a Republic, in the Constitution of India. Now, the Republic of India has an honorable tricolor national flag which upholds the message of Bharat, mapping each other.  ‘Bha’ means knowledge (from Bhaskara), with Sun’s color, i.e. saffron, ‘Ra’ means melody of the song (Raga), representing peace with white color, having a twenty four spoke wheel in the center, and ‘Ta’ stands for rhythmic beats (Tala) representing the green plants base, in the Indian land.

Bharat Mata
Goddess Bharathamba

In a line from Ratri Sooktham of Rig Veda, Adi Shakthi Devi says about the nation,

अहं राष्ट्री सन्गमनी वसूनाम् चिकितुषी यज्नियानाम्

It means, I’m the nation, I’m the force accumulating the wealth and it is I who rekindle the yajnas. From time immemorial, Bharat is the abode of the Goddess Adi Shakthi, Mahamaya Devi or Bharatamba.

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