The long journey of Bharat, from Rig Veda to the Constitution of India

DailyBiteSep 05, 2023 | 17:41

The long journey of Bharat, from Rig Veda to the Constitution of India

In the Puranas, Bharata is said to be the region between the southern ocean and the northern realm of perpetual snow. Photo: Unsplash/ DailyO

The official invites to a G20 summit dinner, to be hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, were released today (September 5). They had 'President of Bharat' written on them instead of 'President of India.'

Opposition leaders Sharad Pawar, Mehbooba Mufti, Siddaramaiah, and others have voiced their concerns and protests regarding the abrupt change in the name.

In summary, they have accused the government of unilaterally attempting to change the name of India to Bharat "as if the country is the ruling party's fiefdom."


Is that legal?

Yes, constitutionally, the government has the right to use the name 'Bharat,' as Article 1 of the Indian Constitution clearly states, “Bharat, that is India, shall be a Union of States.” The Supreme Court of India has also affirmed that both names can coexist, hinting at Article 1.

The concerned voices, however, argue that this act undermines the word 'India,' which has been this country's accepted name globally.

They also raise concerns that this might be the first step towards the government's motive of changing the name to Bharat altogether.

How did the word 'Bharat' get into the Constitution of India?

After a series of debates in the Constituent Assembly, it was decided to use both names together for official usage.

The name "Bharat" finds its origins in ancient Sanskrit texts, dating back at least 2,000 years, resonating with India's rich history and cultural heritage.

While its historical accuracy may not always align with modern geography, the significance of "Bharat" remains undeniable.

Mythology says

In Hindu mythology, the term "Bharata" can be traced back to the Rig Veda, specifically in the 18th hymn of the seventh book, which recounts the "Dasharajna" or the battle of ten kings.

This battle unfolded in the region near the river Ravi in Punjab and marked a significant victory for King Sudasa of the Bharata tribe.


The ensuing popularity of King Sudasa led people to identify themselves as members of the Bharata tribe, and the name "Bharata" gradually became synonymous with the land they inhabited.

Legend of Bharata Chakravarti

Another origin story connects the name "Bharat" to the legendary Emperor Bharata, who founded the Bharata Dynasty.

According to the Mahabharata, Emperor Bharata, the son of King Dushyanta and Queen Sakuntala, played a pivotal role in uniting a vast territory into a single political entity, probably during the later Vedic age.

This political entity was aptly named "Bharatvarsha" in his honor, reflecting the geographical expanse of his conquests.

Ascetic connection

The Vishnu Purana offers yet another perspective on the name "Bharat," suggesting that the name "Bharat" is intertwined with the ascetic practices of the father entrusting his kingdom to his son, Bharata, before embarking on a journey of spiritual enlightenment.

One country, many names

Throughout history, this land has been known by numerous names, including Bharat, India, and Hindustan, among others, as mentioned by Jawaharlal Nehru in his book, ‘Discovery of India.'

According to proponents, India's name, "Bharat," associates it with a rich amalgamation of historical and mythological influences.

"Hindustan," another name, originated as an exonym, an external name for the region by the Persians, where the word "Hindu" refers to the people of the land.


In medieval India, it was primarily associated with the area around the Indus River, eventually evolving to denote the entire region east of the mighty river.

India, a colonial legacy?

During the British colonial era, the name "India" gained prominence and international recognition. However, it's important to note that this name faced opposition from nationalists who viewed it as a colonial imposition, and they hold the same view to this day.

Some advocated for "Bharat" as a more suitable alternative when the Constitution was being drafted.

Last updated: September 05, 2023 | 17:41
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