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The Hindu religious text Manusmriti describes Brahmavarta as the region between the rivers Saraswati and Drishadwati in India. The text defines the area as the place where the "good" people are born, with "goodness" being dependent on location rather than behaviour.[1] The name has been translated in various ways, including "holy land", "sacred land",[2] "abode of gods" and "the scene of creation".[3]

The precise location and size of the region has been the subject of academic uncertainty.[4] Some scholars, such as the archaeologists Bridget and Raymond Allchin, believe the term Brahmavarta to be synonymous with the Aryavarta region.[5]

According to Manusmriti, the purity of a place and its inhabitants decreased the further it was from Brahmavarta. Aryan (noble) people were believed to inhabit the "good" area and the proportion of Mleccha (barbarian) people in the population rose as the distance from it increased. This implies a series of concentric circles of decreasing purity as one moved away from the Brahmavarta centre.[6]

The translation of Manusmriti made by Patrick Olivelle, a professor of Sanskrit, says:

The land created by the gods and lying between the divine rivers Saraswati and Drishadwati is called 'Brahmavarta' - the region of Brahman. The conduct handed down from generation to generation among the social classes and the intermediate classes of that land is called the 'conduct of good people'.

Kuruksetra and the lands of the Matsyas, Pancalas, and Surasenakas constitute the 'land of Brahmin seers', which borders on the Brahmavarta. All the people on earth should learn their respective practices from a Brahmin born in that land.[2][a]

The French Indologist who later converted to Hinduism, Alain Daniélou, notes that the Rig Veda, which is an earlier Hindu text, describes the region later known as Brahmavarta as the heartland of Aryan communities and the geography described in it suggests that those communities had not moved much beyond the area. He says that later texts, contained in the Brahmanas, indicate that the centre of religious activity had moved from Brahmavarta to an adjacent area south-east of it known as Brahmarisihidesa.[b][7] Again, some sources consider Brahmarisihidesa to be synonymous with Brahmavarta.[4][8]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ These are the ancient Kuru, Matsya, Panchala and Surasena kingdoms.
  2. ^ Translated as "Land of Brahmin sages".[4]


  1. ^ Killingley, Dermot (2007). "Mlecchas, Yavanas and Heathens: Interacting Xenologies in Early Nineteenth-Century Calcutta". In Franco, Eli; Preisendanz, Karin. Beyond Orientalism: The Work of Wilhelm Halbfass and Its Impact on Indian and Cross-cultural Studies. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 125. ISBN 978-8-12083-110-0.
  2. ^ a b Manu (2004). Olivelle, Patrick, ed. The Law Code of Manu. Oxford University Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-19280-271-2.
  3. ^ Bakshi, S. R.; Gajrani, S.; Singh, Hari, eds. (2005). Early Aryans to Swaraj. 1. Sarup & Sons. p. 12. ISBN 978-8-17625-537-0.
  4. ^ a b c Scharfe, Hartmut (1989). The State in Indian Tradition. BRILL. p. 12. ISBN 900-4-09060-6.
  5. ^ Allchin, Bridget; Allchin, Raymond (1982). The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge University Press. p. 250. ISBN 978-0-52128-550-6.
  6. ^ Deshpande, Madhav (1993). Sanskrit & Prakrit, Sociolinguistic Issues. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 85. ISBN 978-8-12081-136-2.
  7. ^ Daniélou, Alain (2003) [1971]. A Brief History of India. Trans. Hurry, Kenneth F. Inner Traditions / Bear & Co. pp. 55–56. ISBN 978-1-59477-794-3.
  8. ^ Allchin, Bridget; Allchin, Raymond (1982). The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge University Press. p. 306. ISBN 978-0-52128-550-6.