You are on page 1of 6

Historically the name India may referred to either the region of Greater India a

nd the Indian subcontinent. Today it refers to the contemporary Republic of Indi

a located therein. The name is derived from the name of the Sindhu (Indus River)
and has been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BC).[1] The term appe
ared in Old English as early the 9th century and reemerged in Modern English in
the 17th century.
The Republic of India has two principal short names in both official and popular
English usage, each of which is historically significant, India and Bharat. The
first article of the Constitution of India states that "India, that is Bharat,
shall be a union of states," implicitly codifying India and Bharat as equally of
ficial short names for the Republic of India. A third name, Hindustan, is a hist
orical term for the north and northwestern subcontinent (especially during the B
ritish India period) that is now widely used as an alternative name for the regi
on comprising most of the modern nations of the subcontinent when Indians speak
among themselves. The usage of Bharat, Hindustan or India is dependent on the co
ntext and language of conversation.
According to Manusm?ti (2.21 22) North India (i.e., India north of the Vindhyas) i
s also known as Aryavarta (Sanskrit: ?????????, abode of the Aryans).[2]
Contents [hide]
Hind / Hindustan
Some Historical Definitions
Republic of India
Official Names
See Also
External Links
The English term is from Greek ??d?a (Inda), via Latin India. Inda in Koine Greek
denoted the region beyond the Indus (??d??) river in the Indian Subcontinent, si
nce Herodotus (5th century BC) ? ??d??? ????, he Indike chore; "the Indian land"
, ??d??, Indos, "an Indian", from Old Persian Hindu and listed as a conquered ter
ritory by Darius I in the Persepolis terrace inscription).[3] The name is derive
d ultimately from Sindhu, the Sanskrit name of the river, but also meaning "rive
r" generically.[4] Latin India is used by Lucian(2nd century).
The name India was known in Old English language and was used in King Alfred's t
ranslation of Paulus Orosius. In Middle English, the name was, under French infl
uence, replaced by Ynde or Inde, which entered Early Modern English as Indie. Th
e name India then came back to English usage from the 17th century onwards, and
may be due to the influence of Latin, or Spanish or Portuguese.
Sanskrit indu "drop (of Soma)", also a term for the Moon, is unrelated, but has
sometimes been erroneously connected.
Aryavarta (Sanskrit: ?????????, abode of Aryans) is a name for North India, wher
e the culture of the Indo-Aryans was based, in classical Sanskrit literature. Ma
nu Smriti (2.22) gives the name to "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindh
ya ranges, from the Eastern (Bay of Bengal) to the Western Sea (Arabian Sea)".[5

The name Bharata (????) came from emperor Bharata and it has been used as a self
-ascribed name by some people of the Indian subcontinent and the Republic of Ind
ia.[7] The designation Bharata appears in the official Sanskrit name of the coun
try, Bharata Ga?arajya. The name is derived from the ancient Hindu Puranas, whic
h refer to the land that comprises India as Bharatavar?a (Sanskrit: ????????, li
t. country of Bharata) and uses this term to distinguish it from other var?as or
continents.[8] For example, the Vayu Purana says "he who conquers the whole of
Bharatavar?a is celebrated as a samrat (Vayu Purana 45, 86)."[9]
The Sanskrit word bharata is a v?ddhi derivation of Bharata, which was originall
y an epithet of Agni. The term is a verbal noun of the Sanskrit root bhr-, "to b
ear / to carry", with a literal meaning of to be maintained(of fire). The root b
hr is cognate with the English verb to bear and Latin fero. This term also means
"one who is engaged in search for knowledge".
According to the Puranas, this country is known as Bharatavarsha after the Emper
or Bharata. This has been mentioned in Vishnu Purana (2,1,31), Vayu Purana (33,5
2), Linga Purana (1,47,23), Brahmanda Purana (14,5,62), Agni Purana (107,11 12), S
kanda Purana, Khanda (37,57) and Markandaya Purana (50,41), all using the design
ation Bharata Varsha.
Vishnu Purana mentions:
???? ???????????? ????? ???? ?????
????? ????? ?????, ????? ??????????????
Rishabha was born to Marudevi, Bharata was born to Rishabha,
Bharatavarsha(India) arose from Bharata and Sumati arose from Bharata.
Vishnu Purana (2,1,31)
????? ????? ????????????????????
????? ??: ?????? ????? ??????????? ??? (?????? ?????, ?,?,??)
This country is known as Bharatavarsha since the times the father entrusted the
kingdom to the son Bharata and he himself went to the forest for ascetic practic
Vishnu Purana (2,1,32)
uttara? yatsamudrasya himadrescaiva dak?i?am
var?a? tadbharata? nama bharati yatra santati?
?????? ???????????? ????????????? ???????? ?
????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ??
"The country(var?am) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountai
ns is called Bharatam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."
- Vishnu Purana
The Srimad Bhagavat Purana mentions(Canto 5, Chapter 4) [11] - "He (Rishabha) be
got a hundred sons that were exactly like him... He(Bharata) had the best qualit
ies and it was because of him that this land by the people is called Bhrata-varsh
The Bharatas were also a vedic tribe mentioned in the Rigveda, notably participa
ting in the Battle of the Ten Kings.
The realm of Bharata is known as Bharatavar?a in the Mahabharata(the core portio
n of which is itself known as Bharata) and later texts. According to the text, t
he term Bharata is from the king Bharata, who was the son of Dushyanta and Shaku
ntala and the term varsa means a division of the earth, or a continent. [2]
The term in Classical Sanskrit literature is taken to comprise the present day t
erritories of Indian subcontinent. This corresponds to the approximate extent of
the historical Mauryan Empire under Emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Emperor As

hoka (4th to 3rd centuries BC). Later, political entities unifying approximately
the same region are the Mughal Empire (17th century), the Maratha Empire (18th
century) and the British Raj (19th to 20th centuries).
Jambudvipa(Sanskrit: ??????????, lit. berry island) was used in ancient scriptur
es for the name of India before Bharata became the official name scriptures bega
n using. This alternate name is stilled used occasionally in Thailand, Java and
Bali, to describe the Indian subcontinent.
According to Texts, before India was called Bharatavar?a, it was known as Nabhiv
ar?a (Sanskrit: ????????, lit. land of Nabhi). King Nabhi was a Chakravarti (Uni
versal Sovereign of India) and father of Arihant Rishabha (Jainism).
Dravida(Sanskrit: ???????) i.e. South India, appears in Hindu Purana the area en
compassing Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Te
langana as well as the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshad
weep and Puducherry. This name is also used in the national anthem of India.
Hind / Hindustan[edit]
Main article: Hindustan
The name Hind(Persian: ?????) is derived from the Iranian languages equivalent o
f Indo-Aryan Sindh. The Persian language -stan means "country" or "land" (cognat
e to Sanskrit sthana "place, land").
The Indian Subcontinent had been called Hindustan (Persian: ??????????) in Persi
an. Emperor Baber said, "On the East, the South, and the West it is bounded by t
he Great Ocean."[12] However, the term Hind is in current use. Al-Hind ????? is
the term in the Arabic language(e.g. in the 11th century Tarikh Al-Hind "history
of India"). It also occurs intermittently in usage within India, such as in the
phrase Jai Hind(Sanskrit: ?? ?????).
The terms Hind and Hindustan were current in Persian and Arabic from the 11th ce
ntury Islamic conquests: the rulers in the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal periods ca
lled their Indian dominion, centred around Delhi, Hindustan.
Hindustan, as the term Hindu itself, entered the English language in the 17th ce
ntury. In the 19th century, the term as used in English referred to the northern
region of the subcontinent between the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers and between
the Himalayas and the Vindhyas in particular, hence the term Hindustani for the
Hindi-Urdu language. Hindustan was in use synonymously with India during the Br
itish Raj.
Hind(Hindi: ?????) remains in use in Hindi. In contemporary Persian and Urdu lan
guage, the term Hindustan has recently come to mean the Republic of India. The s
ame is the case with Arabic, where al-Hind is the name of the Republic of India.
Today, Hindustan is no longer in use as the official name for India, although in
Modern Standard Arabic as well as dialects it is the only name for India,(al-Hi
nd ?????).
Main article: Tenjiku
Tianzhu or Tenjiku(Chinese and Japanese: ??)(originally pronounced xien-t'juk) i
s the historical East Asian name for India that comes from the Chinese translite
ration of the Persian Hindu, which itself is derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu, t
he native name of the Indus River.[4] Tianzhu is one of several Chinese translit
erations of Sindhu. Shendu(??) appears in Sima Qian's Shiji and Tiandu(??) is us

ed in the Hou Hanshu(Book of the Later Han).[13] Yintejia(???) comes from the Ku
chean Indaka, another transliteration of Hindu.[4] A detailed account of Tianzhu
is given in the "Xiyu Zhuan"(Record of the Western Regions) in the Hou Hanshu c
ompiled by Fan Ye (398 445):
"The state of Tianzhu: Also, named Shendu, it lies several thousand li southeast
of Yuezhi. Its customs are the same as those of Yuezhi, and it is low, damp, an
d very hot. It borders a large river. The inhabitants ride on elephants in warfa
re; they are weaker than the Yuezhi. They practise the way of Futu the Buddha an
d therefore it has become a custom among them not to kill or attack [others]. Fr
om west of the states Yuezhi and Gaofu, and south until the Western Sea, and eas
t until the state of Panqi, all is the territory of Shendu. Shendu has several h
undred separate towns, with a governor, and separate states which can be numbere
d in the tens, each with its own king. Although there are small differences amon
g them, they all come under the general name of Shendu, and at this time all are
subject to Yuezhi. Yuezhi have killed their kings and established a general in
order to rule over their people. The land produces elephants, rhinoceros, tortoi
se shell, gold, silver, copper, iron, lead, and tin. It communicates to the west
with Da Qin the Roman Empire and so has the exotica of Da Qin."[13]
e there
o India

was also referred to as Wutianzhu (???, literally "Five Indias"), becaus

were five geographical regions in India known to the Chinese: Central, E
Western, Northern, and Southern India. The monk Xuanzang also referred t
as Wu Yin or "Five Inds".[4]

The term is also used in Japan, where it is pronounced as Tenjiku(??). The forei
gn loanwords Indo(???) and India(?????) are also used in some cases. The current
Japanese name for modern India is the foreign loanword Indo(???).
The current Chinese word for India is Yindu(??). Similar to Hindu and Sindhu, th
e term yin was used in classical Chinese much like the English Ind.
Hodu(Hebrew: ??? ) is the Biblical Hebrew name for India mentioned in the Book o
f Esther part of the Jewish Tanakh(Bible) and Christian Old Testament. In Esther
1:1, Ahasuerus(Xerxes) had been described as King ruling 127 provinces from Hod
u(India) to Ethiopia.[14]
Some Historical Definitions[edit]
Some historical definitions prior to 1500 are presented below.[15]
Source Definition
Between first century BCE[16] and fourth century CE[17] Bharatavar?a(realm of Bh
Vishnu Purana "?????? ???????????? ????????????? ?????
??? ?
????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ??"
i.e. "The country(var?am) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mo
untains is called Bharatam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."
c. 486 BC
Hidush Naksh-i-Rustam "Says Darius the King: By the grace of O
rmazd these(are) the countries which I have acquired besides Persia. I have esta
blished my power over them. They have brought tribute to me. That which has been
said to them by me they have done. They have obeyed my law. Medea... Arachotia(
Harauvatish), Sattagydia(Thatagush), Gandaria(Gadra), India(Hidush)...."
c.400-300 BC
Book of Esther(Bible) "Now it took place in the days o
f Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu(India) to Cush (Ethiopia) over
127 provinces"[21][22]
c. 440 BC
India Herodotus
"Eastward of India lies a tract which is
entirely sand. Indeed, of all the inhabitants of Asia, concerning whom anything
is known, the Indians dwell nearest to the east and the rising of the Sun."

c. 300 BC
"India then being four-sided in
plan, the side which looks to the Orient and that to the South, the Great Sea co
mpasseth; that towards the Arctic is divided by the mountain chain of Hemodus fr
om Scythia, inhabited by that tribe of Scythians who are called Sakai; and on th
e fourth side, turned towards the West, the Indus marks the boundary, the bigges
t or nearly so of all rivers after the Nile."
100 CE or later Bharatam
Vishnu Purana "?????? ???????????? ???????????
?? ???????? ?
????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ??"
i.e. "The country(var?am) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mo
untains is called Bharatam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."
c. 140. Indoi, Indou
Arrian "The boundary of the land of India towards the n
orth is Mount Taurus. It is not still called Taurus in this land; but Taurus beg
ins from the sea over against Pamphylia and Lycia and Cilicia; and reaches as fa
r as the Eastern Ocean, running right across Asia. But the mountain has differen
t names in different places; in one, Parapamisus, in another Hemodus; elsewhere
it is called Imaon and perhaps has all sorts of other names; but the Macedonians
who fought with Alexander called it Caucasus; another Caucasus, that is, not th
e Scythian; so that the story ran that Alexander came even to the far side of th
e Caucasus. The western part of India is bounded by the river Indus right down t
o the ocean, where the river runs out by two mouths, not joined together as are
the five mouths of the Ister; but like those of the Nile, by which the Egyptian
delta is formed; thus also the Indian delta is formed by the river Indus, not le
ss than the Egyptian; and this in the Indian tongue is called Pattala. Towards t
he south this ocean bounds the land of India, and eastward the sea itself is the
boundary. The southern part near Pattala and the mouths of the Indus were surve
yed by Alexander and Macedonians and many Greeks; as for the eastern part, Alexa
nder did not traverse this beyond the river Hyphasis. A few historians have desc
ribed the parts which are this side of the Ganges and where are the mouths of th
e Ganges and the city of Palimbothra, the greatest Indian city on the Ganges.(..
.) The Indian rivers are greater than any others in Asia; greatest are the Gange
s and the Indus, whence the land gets its name; each of these is greater than th
e Nile of Egypt and the Scythian Ister, even were these put together; my own ide
a is that even the Acesines is greater than the Ister and the Nile, where the Ac
esines having taken in the Hydaspes, Hydraotes, and Hyphasis, runs into the Indu
s, so that its breadth there becomes thirty stades. Possibly also other greater
rivers run through the land of India."
c. 590. Hind
"As for the land of the Hind it is bounded on th
e East by the Persian Sea(i.e. the Indian Ocean), on the W. and S. by the countr
ies of Islam and on the N. by the Chinese Empire... The length of the land of th
e Hind from the government of Mokran, the country of Mansura and Bodha and the r
est of Sind, till thou comest to Kannauj and thence passest on to Tibet, is abou
t 4 months and its breadth from the Indian Ocean to the country of Kannuj about
three months."
c. 650 Five Indies
"The circumference of ??(Modern Chinese:
Wu Yn, the Five Indies) is about 90,000 li; on three sides it is bounded by a gr
eat sea; on the north it is backed by snowy mountains. It is wide at the north a
nd narrow at the south; its figure is that of a half-moon."
c. 944. Hind, Sind
Masudi "For the nonce let us confine ourselves to summa
ry notices concerning the kings of Sind and Hind. The language of Sind is differ
ent from that of Hind. . . ."
c. 1020 Hind
"Hind is surrounded on the East by Chn and Mchn, on
the West by Sind and Kbul and on the South by the Sea."1205
Hasan Nizami
"The whole country of Hind, from Peshawar in the
north, to the Indian Ocean in the south; from Sehwan(on the west bank of the In
dus) to the mountains on the east dividing from China."
India the Greater
India the Minor
Middle India
Marco Polo
"India the Greater is that which extends from Ma

abar to Kesmacoran(i.e. from Coromandel to Mekran) and it contains 13 great king

doms... India the Lesser extends from the Province of Champa to Mutfili (i.e. fr
om Cochin-China to the Kistna Delta) and contains 8 great Kingdoms... Abash(Abys
sinia) is a very great province and you must know that it constitutes the Middle
c. 1328.
India Friar Jordanus Catalani "What shall I say? The greatness
of this India is beyond description. But let this much suffice concerning India
the Greater and the Less. Of India Tertia I will say this, that I have not inde
ed seen its many marvels, not having been there..."
India Minor
Ruy Gonzlez de Clavijo "And this same Thursday that the
said Ambassadors arrived at this great River (the Oxus) they crossed to the oth
er side. And the same day... came in the evening to a great city which is called
Tenmit(Termez) and this used to belong to India Minor, but now belongs to the e
mpire of Samarkand, having been conquered by Tamurbec."
Republic of India[edit]
See also: Names of the Republic of India in its official languages
Official Names[edit]
Main article: Official names of India
The official names as set down in article 1 of the Indian constitution are:
English: India; Bharat
Sanskrit: ????(Bharata)
See Also[edit]
Official names of India
History of India
Origin of the names of Indian states
List of regions of India