Hindustan is derived from the Persian word Hindū cognate with the Sanskrit Sindhu. The Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola. Hence, the Rigvedic sapta sindhava (the land of seven rivers) became hapta hindu in Zend Avesta. It was said be the fifteenth domain created by Ahura Mazda, apparently a land of `abnormal heat'. In 515 BCE, Darius I annexed the Indus valley to his empire, calling the land Hindu from the Sanskrit name Sindhu of the Indus river. During the time of Xerxes the term was applied to the lands to the east of Indus.
Alternatively, it may pertain to numerous aspects belonging to two geographical areas: the Indus River basin (eastern Pakistan) during medieval times, or a region in northern India, east and south of the Yamuna river, between the Vindhya mountains and the Himalayas, amongst the places where Hindustani is spoken. This abbreviated version appears in the common nationalist salutation of India, Jai Hind, coined by Major Abid Hasan Safrani of the Indian National Army as a shortened version of Jai Hindustan Ki (translation: Victory to India). It was popularized by Subhas Chandra Bose, who used it on Azad Hind Radio during the Indian independence movement. It appears in the revered song, Aye Mere Watan Ke Logon. Today, it is widely used as a salutation and a battle cry in the Indian Armed Forces. It is also commonly used to sign off at the end of major speeches.
Most formally, in the proper disciplines of Geography and History, Hindustan refers to the region of the upper and middle Ganges valley; Hindustan by this definition is the region located between the distinct lands of Punjab in the northwest and Bengal in the north-east. So used, the term is not a synonym for terms "South Asia", "India", "Country of the Hindus" [sic], or of the modern-day Republic of India, variously interpreted.
In one usage among Hindustani speakers in India, the term 'Hindustani' refers to an Indian, irrespective of religious affiliation. Among non-Hindustani speakers e.g. Bengali-speakers, "Hindustani" is sometimes used to describe persons who are from the upper Ganges, also regardless of religious affiliation, but rather as a geographic term.
Hindustani is sometimes used as an ethnic term applied to South Asia (e.g., a Mauritian or Surinamese man with roots in South Asia might describe his ethnicity by saying he is Hindustani). For example, Hindoestanen is a Dutch word used to describe people of South Asian origin, in the Netherlands and Suriname.
Within Pakistan, the term "Hindustan" is sometimes used as a synonym for the modern-day Republic of India. Even many Indians still call India as 'Hindustan', though Bharat is more commonly used.
Hindustani is also used to refer to the Hindustani language, which derives from the Khariboli dialect under the Delhi Sultanate of present-day Western Uttar Pradesh, Southern Uttarakhand and Delhi areas.
- "Hindustan: Definition". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2012-05-15.
- Sindh: An Introduction Archived October 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Parpola 2015, Chapter 9.
- Sharma 2002, p. 2.
- Parpola 2015, Chapter 1.
- Sharma 2002, p. 3.
- Habib 2011, p. 105.
- J. T. P. de Bruijn, art. HINDU at Encyclopædia Iranica Vol. XII, Fasc. 3, pp. 311-312, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hindu, accessed 6-05-2016
- "Hindustan". Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-02.
- A Geography of Hindustan, Ancient and Modern, American Ceylon Mission, 1843.
- Leonard A. Gordon (1990). Brothers Against the Raj. Columbia University Press.
- "Hindustani language and literature" (PDF). De Tassay.
- Habib, Irfan (2011), "Hindi/Hindwi in Medieval Times: Aspects of Evolution and Recognition of a Language", in Ishrat Alam; Syed Ejaz Hussain, The Varied Facets of History: Essays in Honour of Aniruddha Ray, Primus Books, pp. 105–124, ISBN 978-93-80607-16-0
- Lipner, Julius (1998), Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, Routledge, ISBN 0415051827
- Parpola, Asko (2015), The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization, Oxford University Press Incorporated, ISBN 0190226927
- Sharma, Arvind (2002), "On Hindu, Hindustan, Hinduism and Hindutva", Numen 49 (1): 1–36, JSTOR 3270470
- A Sketch of the History of Hindustan from the First Muslim Conquest to the Fall of the Mughal Empire by H. G. Keene. (Hindustan The English Historical Review, Vol. 2, No. 5 (Jan., 1887), pp. 180–181.)
- Story of India through the Ages; An Entertaining History of Hindustan, to the Suppression of the Mutiny, by Flora Annie Steel, 1909 E.P. Dutton and Co., New York. (as recommended by the New York Times; Flora Annie Steel Book Review, February 20, 1909, New York Times.)
- The History of Hindustan: Post Classical and Modern, Ed. B.S. Danniya and Alexander Dow. 2003, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-1993-4. (History of Hindustan (First published: 1770-1772). Dow had succeeded his father as the private secretary of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.)