Names for India

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The geographic region containing the Indian subcontinent.

The Republic of India has some principal short names in official Hindi and English (as well as Hindustani) usage, each of which is historically significant, "India", "Hind" and "Bharat".[1][2][3] A fourth name, "Hindustan",[4][5][6] is sometimes an unofficial alternative name for the region when Indians speak among themselves or about the religion today known as Hinduism.[7] Meluhha or Melukhkha is the oldest known name for India, associated with Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), mentioned in the Sumerian and Akkadian text since c. 2334 BCE – 2154 BCE (possibly as earlier as 4500 BCE).[8][9][10][11]

"Bhārät", the name for India in several Indian languages, is variously said to be derived from the name of either Dushyanta's son Bharata or Rishabha's son Bharata.[12] Initially Bharata referred only to the western part of the Gangetic Valley in North India, but was later more broadly applied to the Indian subcontinent and the region of Greater India, as was the name "India". Today it refers to the contemporary Republic of India. The name "India" is originally derived from the name of the river Sindhu (Indus River) and has been in use in Persian and Greek since Herodotus (4th century BCE). The term appeared in Arabic and Old English as early the 9th century and reemerged in Modern English in the 17th century,[citation needed] although the term has been always utilised by the Islamic rule in India.[13] According to Manusmṛti,[14] North India (i.e., India north of the Vindhyas) is also known as Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, abode of the Vedic people).[15]

Official names[edit]

The "Bhārat Gaṇarājya" (भारत गणराज्य
Bhārat Gaṇrājya (Hunterian), short: Bhārat, also spelled as Bhārata) and its transliteration "Republic of India" (short: India) are the official names adopted by the Government of India in the Hindi and English languages respectively.[1] The official names as set down in article 1 of the Indian constitution are:

Hindi: भारत (Bhārat)
English: India

Bhārat in Hindi[edit]

Statue of Bharata Chakravartin at Shravanabelagola. In Jain mythology, he was the first chakravartin or universal emperor.

Bhārat was selected as the name of the country of India in 1950.[2] The Hindi language in the Devanagari script is the sole official language of India as per Article 343 of the Constitution of India.[16] Hindi romanisation uses Hunterian transliteration, which is "national system of romanisation in India" and the one officially used by the Government of India. It takes into account the rules of schwa deletion in Indo-Aryan languages. The Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution lists 22 languages,[17] which have been referred to as scheduled languages and given recognition, status, and official encouragement, and these languages have slightly different spelling and pronunciation of Bharat.

The name Bhārat (sometimes spelled as Bhārata) or Bhārat-varṣa (or Bharata-varsha) is said to be derived from the name of either Dushyanta's son Bharata or Rishabha's son Bharata.[12] Several Puranas state that it is derived from the name of Bharata, the son of Rishabha. However, some Puranic passages state that it is derived from Bharata, which was another name for Rishabha's ancestor Manu. Some other Puranic passages refer to the Bharata people, who are described as the descendants of Dushyanta's son Bharata in the Mahabharata.[18]

The earliest recorded use of Bhāratavarṣa in a geographical sense is in the Hathigumpha inscription of King Kharavela (first century BCE), where it applies only to a restrained area of northern India, namely the part of the Gangetic Valley west of Magadha.[19][20] In the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata (200 BCE to 300 CE), a larger region of North India is encompassed by the term, but much of the Deccan and South India are still excluded.[21]

Bhārata has been used as a self-ascribed name by some people of the Indian subcontinent and the Republic of India.[22] The designation Bhārata appears in the official Sanskrit name of the country, Bhārata Gaṇarājya. The name is derived from the ancient Hindu Puranas, which refer to the land that comprises India as Bhāratavarṣa (Sanskrit: भारतवर्ष, lit. country of Bharata) and uses this term to distinguish it from other varṣas or continents.[23] For example, the Vayu Purana says "he who conquers the whole of Bhāratavarṣa is celebrated as a samrāt (Vayu Purana 45, 86)."[24]

The Sanskrit word bhārata is a vṛddhi derivation of Bharata, which was originally an epithet of Agni. The term is a verbal noun of the Sanskrit root bhr-, "to bear/to carry", with a literal meaning of to be maintained (of fire). The root bhr is cognate with the English verb to bear and Latin ferō. This term also means "one who is engaged in search for knowledge". Barato, the Esperanto name for India, is also a derivation of Bhārata.[citation needed]

According to the Puranas, this country is known as Bharatavarsha after Bharata, the son of Rishabha. This has been mentioned in Vishnu Purana (2,1,31), Vayu Purana (33,52), Linga Purana (1,47,23), Brahmanda Purana (14,5,62), Agni Purana (107,11–12), Skanda Purana, Khanda (37,57) and Markandaya Purana (50,41), all using the designation Bharata Varsha.

Vishnu Purāna mentions:

ऋषभो मरुदेव्याश्च ऋषभात भरतो भवेत्
भरताद भारतं वर्षं, भरतात सुमतिस्त्वभूत्
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)
ततश्च भारतं वर्षमेतल्लोकेषुगीयते
भरताय यत: पित्रा दत्तं प्रतिष्ठिता वनम (विष्णु पुराण, २,१,३२)
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 practices.[25]
—Vishnu Purana (2,1,32)
uttaraṃ yatsamudrasya himādreścaiva dakṣiṇam
varṣaṃ tadbhārataṃ nāma bhāratī yatra santatiḥ
उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् ।
वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।।
"The country (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."
—Vishnu Purana

The Srimad Bhagavat Purana mentions(Canto 5, Chapter 4)[26] - "He (Rishabha) begot a hundred sons that were exactly like him... He (Bharata) had the best qualities and it was because of him that this land by the people is called Bhârata-varsha"

The Bhāratas were also a Vedic tribe mentioned in the Rigveda, notably participating in the Battle of the Ten Kings.

The realm of Bharata is known as Bharātavarṣa in the Mahabhārata (the core portion of which is itself known as Bhārata) and later texts. According to the text, the term Bharata is from the king Bharata, who was the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala and the term varsa means a division of the earth or a continent.[citation needed]

Bharata Khanda (or Bharata Ksetra[27]) is a term used in Hindu texts, including the Vedas, Mahabharata, Ramayana and the Puranic, to describe the geographic region that encompassed the modern countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar—that is, South Asia at the term's furthest extent.

India in English[edit]

India was the lower Indus basin in Herodotus's view of the world.

The English term is from Greek Indika (cf. Megasthenes' work Indica) or Indía (Ἰνδία), via Latin transliteration India.[28][29] English has the status of a "subsidiary official language" in the constitution of India.[16][30]

The name India derives ultimately from Sanskrit Síndhu (सिन्धु), which was the name of the Indus River as well as the country at the lower Indus basin (modern Sindh, in Pakistan).[31][32] The Old Persian equivalent of Síndhu was Hindu.[33] Darius I conquered Sindh in about 516 BCE, upon which the Persian equivalent Hinduš was used for the province at the lower Indus basin.[34][35] Skylax of Karyanda who explored the Indus river for the Persian emperor probably took over the Persian name and passed it into Greek.[36] The terms Indos (Ἰνδός) for the Indus river as well as "an Indian" are found in Herodotus's Geography.[37] The loss of the aspirate /h/ was probably due to the dialects of Greek spoken in Asia Minor.[38][39] Herodotus also generalised the term "Indian" from the people of lower Indus basin, to all the people living to the east of Persia, even though he had no knowledge of the geography of the land.[40]

By the time of Alexander, Indía in Koine Greek denoted the region beyond the Indus. Alexander's companions were aware of at least North India up to the Ganges delta (Gangaridai).[41][42] Later, Megasthenes included in India the southern peninsula as well.[42]

Latin India is used by Lucian (2nd century AD).[citation needed] India was known in Old English language and was used in King Alfred's translation of Paulus Orosius. In Middle English, the name was, under French influence, replaced by Ynde or Inde, which entered Early Modern English as "Indie". The name "India" then came back to English usage from the 17th century onward, and may be due to the influence of Latin, or Spanish or Portuguese.[citation needed]

Sanskrit indu "drop (of Soma)", also a term for the Moon, is unrelated, but has sometimes been erroneously connected.

Names derived from Indian sources[edit]

Āryāvarta in early Sanskrit Hindu texts[edit]

Āryāvarta (Sanskrit: आर्यावर्त, 'abode of Aryans') is a name for the northern part of India, where the culture of the Indo-Aryans was based, in classical Sanskrit literature. Manu Smriti (2.22) gives the name to "the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern (Bay of Bengal) to the Western Sea (Arabian Sea)".[43][44]

Jambudvīpa in later Sanskrit Hindu texts[edit]

The name Jambudīpasi for "India" (Brahmi script) in the Sahasram Minor Rock Edict of Ashoka, circa 250 BCE.[45]
Map of Jambudvipa.

Jambudvipa (Sanskrit: जम्बुद्वीप Jambu-dvīpa, lit. "berry island") was used in ancient scriptures as a name of India before Bhārata became the official name. The derivative Jambu Dwipa was the historical term for India in many Southeast Asian countries before the introduction of the English word "India". This alternate name is still used occasionally in Thailand, Malaysia, Java and Bali to describe the Indian Subcontinent. However, it also can refer to the whole continent of Asia.

According to Puranic cosmography, the world is divided into seven concentric island continents (sapta-dvipa vasumati) separated by the seven encircling oceans, each double the size of the preceding one (going out from within). The seven continents of the Puranas are stated as Jambudvipa, Plaksadvipa, Salmalidvipa, Kusadvipa, Krouncadvipa, Sakadvipa, and Pushkaradvipa. [46][47] The mountain range called Lokaloka, meaning "world-no-world", stretches across this final sea, delineating the known world from the dark void.[48] The common names of the dvīpas, having their nations or varṣas (9 for Jambu-dvīpa, 7 for the other dvīpas) with a mountain and a river in each varṣa, is given in several Purāṇas.[49] There is a distinct set of names provides, however, in other Purāṇas.[50] Markandeya Purana and Brahmanda Purana divide Jambudvipa into four vast regions shaped like four petals of a lotus with Mount Meru being located at the center like a pericarp.[51] The city of Brahmapuri is said to be enclosed by a river, known as Akash Ganga.[51] Akash Ganga is said to issue forth from the foot of Lord Vishnu and after washing the lunar region falls "through the skies" and after encircling the Brahmapuri "splits up into four mighty streams", which are said to flow in four opposite directions from the landscape of Mount Meru and irrigate the vast lands of Jambudvipa.[51]

The most detailed geography is that described in the Vāyu Purāṇa.[52]

Nābhivarṣa in Jain texts[edit]

According to Jain literature, before India was called Bhāratavarṣa, it was known as Nābhivarṣa (Sanskrit: नाभिवर्ष, lit. land of Nabhi).[53] Bharata was a son of the first tirthankara and founder of Jainism, Rishabhanatha.[53] Before the Country was named after Bharata, it was known as Nābhivarṣa after the name of king Nabhi. King Nabhi was Bharata's grandfather and Rishabhanatha's father.[53] According to Jain text Ādi purāṇa, Nabhirāja lived for 1 crore purva and his height was 525 dhanusha (long bows).[54]

Names derived from foreign sources[edit]

East Asian sources[edit]

Tianzhu in historic Chinese sources[edit]

Tianzhu or Tenjiku (Chinese and Japanese: 天竺) (originally pronounced xien-t'juk) is the historical East Asian name for India that comes from the Chinese transliteration of the Persian Hindu, which itself is derived from the Sanskrit Sindhu, the native name of the Indus River.[55] Tianzhu is one of several Chinese transliterations of Sindhu. Juandu (身毒) appears in Sima Qian's Shiji and Tiandu (天篤) is used in the Hou Hanshu (Book of the Later Han).[56] Yintejia (印特伽) comes from the Kuchean Indaka, another transliteration of Hindu.[55] A detailed account of Tianzhu is given in the "Xiyu Zhuan" (Record of the Western Regions) in the Hou Hanshu compiled 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, and very hot. It borders a large river. The inhabitants ride on elephants in warfare; they are weaker than the Yuezhi. They practise the way of Futu the Buddha and therefore it has become a custom among them not to kill or attack [others]. From west of the states Yuezhi and Gaofu, and south until the Western Sea, and east until the state of Panqi, all is the territory of Shendu. Shendu has several hundred separate towns, with a governor, and separate states which can be numbered in the tens, each with its own king. Although there are small differences among 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, tortoise 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."[56]

Wutianzhu in historic Chinese sources[edit]

Tianzhu was also referred to as Wutianzhu (五天竺, literally "Five Indias"), because there were five geographical regions in India known to the Chinese: Central, Eastern, Western, Northern, and Southern India. The monk Xuanzang also referred to India as Wu Yin or "Five Inds".[55]

Tenjiku in Japanese usage presently[edit]

The term is also used in Japan, where it is pronounced as Tenjiku (天竺). The foreign loanwords Indo (インド) and India (インディア) are also used in some cases. The current Japanese name for modern India is the foreign loanword Indo (インド).[citation needed]

Yindu in Chinese usage presently[edit]

The current Chinese word for India is Yindu (印度), first used by the seventh-century monk and traveller Xuanzang.[57] Similar to Hindu and Sindhu, the term yin was used in classical Chinese much like the English Ind.

Western Asia sources[edit]

Western Asian sources started with "Hindush" in older Persian,[34] which later became "Hindustan" in middle Persian,[4][5][6] and finally as "Hind" in Arabic sources.

In contemporary Persian and Urdu language, the term Hindustan has recently come to mean the Republic of India. The same is the case with Arabic, where al-Hind is the name for the Republic of India.[citation needed]

Hindush in older Persian[edit]

"India" written in Egyptian hieroglyphs on the Statue of Darius I, circa 500 BCE.[58]

The words Hindū (Persian: هندو‎) and Hind (Persian: هند‎) came from Indo-Aryan/Sanskrit Sindhu (the Indus River or its region). The Achaemenid emperor Darius I conquered the Indus valley in about 516 BCE, upon which the Achaemenid equivalent of Sindhu, viz., "Hindush" (𐏃𐎡𐎯𐎢𐏁, H-i-du-u-š) was used for the lower Indus basin.[34][35] The name was also known as far as the Achaemenid province of Egypt where it was written 𓉔𓈖𓂧𓍯𓇌 (H-n-d-wꜣ-y) on the Statue of Darius I, circa 500 BCE.[59][60][58]

Hindustan in Persian usage presently[edit]

In middle Persian, probably from the first century CE, the suffix -stān (Persian: ستان‎) was added, indicative of a country or region, forming the name Hindūstān.[4] Thus, Sindh was referred to as Hindūstān in the Naqsh-e-Rustam inscription of Sassanid emperor Shapur I in c. 262 CE.[5][6]

Emperor Babur said, "On the East, the South, and the West it is bounded by the Great Ocean."[61]

"Hindustan", as the term Hindu itself, entered the English language in the 17th century. In the 19th century, the term as used in English referred to the Subcontinent. "Hindustan" was in use simultaneously with "India" during the British Raj. Today, "Hindustan" is no longer in use as the official name for India.[citation needed]

Hind in Arabic usage presently[edit]

Hind was notably adapted in the Arabic language as the definitive form Al-Hind (الهند) for India, e.g. in the 11th century Tarikh Al-Hind ('History of India'). It occurs intermittently in usage within India, such as in the phrase Jai Hind (Hindi: जय हिन्द) or in Hind Mahāsāgar (हिन्द महासागर), the Standard Hindi name for the Indian Ocean, but otherwise is deemed archaic.[citation needed]

Both the names, Hindustan and Hind, were current in Persian and Arabic respectively from the 11th century Islamic invasions: the rulers in the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal periods called their Indian dominion, centered around Delhi, "Hindustan" (ہندوستان; हिन्दुस्तान).[citation needed]

Hodu in old Hebrew bible[edit]

Hodu (Hebrew: הֹדּוּ Hoddû) is the Biblical Hebrew name for India mentioned in the Book of Esther part of the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Old Testament. In Esther 1:1 and 8:9, Ahasuerus (Xerxes) had been described as King ruling 127 provinces from Hodu (India) to Ethiopia.[62] The term seemingly derives from Sanskrit Sindhu, "great river", i.e., the Indus River, via Old Persian Hiñd°u.[63] It is thus cognate with the term India.

Meluhha / Melukhkha in ancient Sumerian and Assyrian texts[edit]

Impression of a cylinder seal of the Akkadian Empire, with label: "The Divine Sharkalisharri Prince of Akkad, Ibni-Sharrum the Scribe his servant". The long-horned buffalo is thought to have come from the Indus Valley, and testifies to exchanges with Meluhha, the Indus Valley civilization. Circa 2217 BCE - 2193 BCE. Louvre Museum.[64][65][66]
Location of foreign lands for the Mesopotamians, including Meluhha.

Akkadian Empire (c. 2334 BCE – 2154 BCE) cylinder seal with inscription: "Shu-ilishu, interpreter of the Meluhhan language".[67] Louvre Museum, reference AO 22310.[68]

Meluhha or Melukhkha is the name for India, or more specifically for the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), as recorded in the Sumerian texts (c. 4500 BCE – c. 1900 BCE) during the Middle Bronze Age.[8] The word "Meluhha", according to Asko Parpola, is derived from the Dravidian words mel-akam ("highland country") and el or ellu (sesame, ilu in Sumerian and ellu in Akkadian) because the IVC people who were Proto-Dravidians exported sesame oil to Mesopotamia (Sumer), Indo-Aryan peoples termed Meluhha as Mleccha (non-Vedic barbarians) in Vedic Sanskrit.[9][10][11] Sumerian texts repeatedly refer to three important centers with which they traded: Meluhha (identified with IVC), Magan (identified with Oman in later Assyrian texts), and Dilmun (a Persian Gulf civilization which encompassed Bahrain, Failaka Island and the adjacent coast of Eastern Arabia).[69][70]

In the 1980s, important archaeological discoveries have been made at Ras al-Jinz (Oman), located at the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula, demonstrating maritime Indus Valley connections with Oman, and the Middle East in general.[71][72] More specific archaeological evidence of the trade between Mesopotamia (Sumer) and the Indian subcontinent (IVC) include impression of Indus Valley city of Harappa clay seals on the items exported to Sumer found at Ur and other Mesopotamian sites.[73][74] Conversely, Sumerian seals have been found at IVC sites in India, such as at the IVC port town Lothal in Gujarat.[75]


Historical definitions of India[edit]

Some historical definitions prior to 1500 are presented below.[76]

Year Name Source Definition
c. 2334 BCE – 2154 BCE (likely as earlier as 4500 BCE) Meluhha / Melukhkha Sumerian and Akkadian texts "Meluhhan is identified with the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) in Sumerian texts, word 'Meluhha' is derived from the Dravidian words mel-akam (highland country) and el or ellu (sesame, ilu in Sumerian and ellu in Akkadian)."[8][9][10][11][69]
(Note: Ample archaeological evidence found at Sumerian and IVC sites which proves they traded with each other.)[71][72][73][74][75]
c. 440 BCE 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.400-300 BCE Hodu Book of Esther (Bible) "Now it took place in the days of Ahasuerus, the Ahasuerus who reigned from Hodu (India) to Cush (Ethiopia) over 127 provinces"[77][78][79]
300 BCE Aryavarta Vashistha, Vashistha Dharmasutra "In the west [for Aryavarta]_ the boundary-river (Indus), in the east the region where the sun rises (Himalayas),—as far as the black antelopes wander (between these two limits.)"
c. 300 BC India/Indikē Megasthenes "India then being four-sided in plan, the side which looks to the Orient and that to the South, the Great Sea compasseth; that towards the Arctic is divided by the mountain chain of Hēmōdus from Scythia, inhabited by that tribe of Scythians who are called Sakai; and on the fourth side, turned towards the West, the Indus marks the boundary, the biggest or nearly so of all rivers after the Nile."
200 BCE Jambudvipa Chanakya
"This (Brahmaputra) is the eastern boundary of Jambudvipa, its western boundary being the mouths of the Indus and its southern boundary being the Indian Ocean or Rama Sethu."[80]
Between first century BCE[81] and Ninth century CE[82][83] Bhāratavarṣa (realm of Bhārata)[84][85][86] Vishnu Purana "उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् ।

वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।।"
i.e. "The country (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."

100 CE or later Bhāratam Vishnu Purana "उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् ।

वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।।"
i.e. "The country (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata."

c. 140. Indoi, Indou Arrian "The boundary of the land of India towards the north is Mount Taurus. It is not still called Taurus in this land; but Taurus begins from the sea over against Pamphylia and Lycia and Cilicia; and reaches as far as the Eastern Ocean, running right across Asia. But the mountain has different 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 the Scythian; so that the story ran that Alexander came even to the far side of the Caucasus. The western part of India is bounded by the river Indus right down to 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 less than the Egyptian; and this in the Indian tongue is called Pattala. Towards the 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 surveyed by Alexander and Macedonians and many Greeks; as for the eastern part, Alexander did not traverse this beyond the river Hyphasis. A few historians have described the parts which are this side of the Ganges and where are the mouths of the 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 Ganges and the Indus, whence the land gets its name; each of these is greater than the Nile of Egypt and the Scythian Ister, even were these put together; my own idea is that even the Acesines is greater than the Ister and the Nile, where the Acesines having taken in the Hydaspes, Hydraotes, and Hyphasis, runs into the Indus, so that its breadth there becomes thirty stades. Possibly also other greater rivers run through the land of India."
c. 650 Five Indies Xuanzang "The circumference of 五印 (Modern Chinese: Wǔ Yìn, the Five Indies) is about 90,000 li; on three sides it is bounded by a great sea; on the north it is backed by snowy mountains. It is wide at the north and narrow at the south; its figure is that of a half-moon."
c. 950. Hind Istakhri "As for the land of the Hind it is bounded on the East by the Persian Sea (i.e. the Indian Ocean), on the W. and S. by the countries of Islām and on the N. by the Chinese Empire... The length of the land of the Hind from the government of Mokrān, the country of Mansūra and Bodha and the rest of Sind, till thou comest to Kannauj and thence passest on to Tibet, is about 4 months and its breadth from the Indian Ocean to the country of Kannūj about three months."
c. 1020 Hind Al-Birūnī "Hind is surrounded on the East by Chín and Máchín, on the West by Sind (Baluchistan) and Kábul and on the South by the Sea."
Hindustan John Richardson, A Smaller Manual of Modern Geography. Physical and Political "The boundaries of Hindustan are marked on every side by natural features; e.g., the Himalayas, on the N.; the Patkoi Mountains, Tippera Hills, &c., on the N.E.; the Sea, on the E., S., and W.; and the Hala, and Sulaiman Mountains, on the N.W."[87]

Historical definitions of a Greater India[edit]

Writers throughout history, both Indian and of other nationalities have written about a 'Greater India', which Indians have called either Akhand Bharat or Mahabharata.[88]

Year Name Source Definition
944 Al-Hind El-Mas'udi
Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar
"The Hindu nation (Al-Hind) extends from the mountains of Khorasan (Afghanistan) and of es-Sind (Baluchistan) as far as et-Tubbet (Tibetan Plateau.)"[89]
1205 Hind Hasan Nizāmī "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 Indus) to the mountains on the east dividing from China."
1298 India the Greater
India the Minor
Middle India
Marco Polo "India the Greater is that which extends from Maabar to Kesmacoran (i.e. from Coromandel to Mekran) and it contains 13 great kingdoms... India the Lesser extends from the Province of Champa to Mutfili (i.e. from Cochin-China to the Kistna Delta) and contains 8 great Kingdoms... Abash (Abyssinia) is a very great province and you must know that it constitutes the Middle India."
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 indeed seen its many marvels, not having been there..."
1404 India Minor Ruy González de Clavijo "And this same Thursday that the said Ambassadors arrived at this great River (the Oxus) they crossed to the other 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 empire of Samarkand, having been conquered by Tamurbec."
16th century Indostān Ignazio Danti "The part of India beyond the Ganges extends in length as far as Cathay (China) and contains many provinces in which are found many notable things. As in the Kingdom of Kamul near Campichu (Cambodia)...And in Erguiul...In the Ava Mountains (Burma)..., and in the Salgatgu mountains...In Caindu...In the territory of Carajan..."[90]
982-983 Hindistān Author Unknown
Hudud al-'Alam
"East of it (Hindistān) are the countries of China and Tibet; South of it, the Great Sea; west of it, the river Mihran (Indus); north of it, the country of Shaknan belonging to Vakhan and some parts of Tibet."[91]
1590 Hindustān Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak
"Hindustan is described as enclosed on the east, west and south by the ocean, but Sarandip (Sri Lanka), Achin (Indonesia), Maluk (Indonesia) and Malagha (Malaysia) and a considerable number of islands are accounted for within its extent."[92]

See also[edit]



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    Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary (3rd ed.), Merriam-Webster, 1997, pp. 515–516, ISBN 978-0-87779-546-9 "Officially, Republic of India";
    Complete Atlas of the World, 3rd Edition: The Definitive View of the Earth, DK Publishing, 2016, p. 54, ISBN 978-1-4654-5528-4 "Official name: Republic of India";
    Worldwide Government Directory with Intergovernmental Organizations 2013, CQ Press, 10 May 2013, p. 726, ISBN 978-1-4522-9937-2 "India (Republic of India; Bharat Ganarajya)"
  2. ^ a b Clémentin-Ojha, Catherine (2014). "'India, that is Bharat…': One Country, Two Names". South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal. 10.
  3. ^ André Wink (2002). Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World: Early Medieval India and the Expansion of Islam 7Th-11th Centuries. BRILL Academic. pp. 154–161, 203–205. ISBN 978-0391041738.
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