This article is about the name of the country or subcontinent. For peoples' names, see Indian Name.

The name India may refer to either the region of Greater India (the Indian subcontinent), or to the contemporary Republic of India contained therein. The term is derived from the name of the Sindhu or Indus River and has been in use in Greek since the time of Herodotus (5th century BC), via Old Persian transmission. The term appears in Old English in the 9th century, and again in Modern English since 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. All originally designated a single entity comprising all the modern nations of the Indian subcontinent. These names are India and Bharat. The first Article of the Constitution of India states that "India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states." Thus, India and Bharat are equally official short names for the Republic of India, Indians commonly refer to their country as Bharat, India depending on the context and language of conversation.


The English term is from Greek Ἰνδία (Indía), via Latin India. Indía in Byzantine (Koine Greek) ethnography denotes the region beyond the Indus river, since Herodotus (5th century BC), hē Indikē chōrē; "Indian land", Indos, "an Indian", from Old Persian Hinduš (referring to what is now known as Sindh, and listed as a conquered territory by Darius I in the Persepolis terrace inscription).

The name is derived ultimately from Sindhu, the Sindhanur name of the river, but also meaning "river" generically. Latin India is used by Lucian (2nd century).

The name India was known in Old English, 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 onwards, and may be due to the influence of Latin, or Spanish or Portuguese. India Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition: 1989.

Sanskrit indu "drop (of Soma)", also a term for the Moon, is unrelated, but has sometimes been erroneously connected, listed by, among others, Colonel James Todd in his Annals of Rajputana. Todd describes ancient India as under control of tribes claiming descent from the Moon, or "Indu" (referring to Chandravanshi Rajputs)


The name Bhārata has been used as a self-ascribed name by people of the Indian Subcontinent and the Republic of India.Article 1 of the English version of the Constitution of India: "India that is Bharat shall be a Union of States." Bhārata along with India is the official English name of the country, Bhārata is the official Sanskrit name of the country, Bhārata Gaṇarājya, and the name is derived from the ancient Indian texts, the Puranas, which refers to the land that comprises India as Bhārata varṣam, and uses this term to distinguish it from other varṣas or continents.[1] For example, the Vayu Puranas says he who conquers the whole of Bharata-varsa is celebrated as a samrāt (Vayu Purana 45, 86).[1] However in some puranas, the term 'Bharate' refers to the whole Earth as Emperor Bharata is said to have ruled the whole Earth. Until the death of Maharaja Parikshit, the last formidable emperor of the Kuru dynasty, the known world was known as Bharata varsha.Template:Fix/category[citation needed]

According to the most popular theory the name Bhārata is the vrddhi of Bharata, a king mentioned in Rigveda.

The Sanskrit word bhārata is a vrddhi 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".

According to the Puranas, this country is known as Bharatavasha after the king Bharata Chakravarti. 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) it is clearly stated that this country is known as Bharata Varsha. Vishnu Purāna mentions:

ऋषभो मरुदेव्याश्च ऋषभात भरतो भवेत्
भरताद भारतं वर्षं, भरतात सुमतिस्त्वभूत्
Rishabha was born to Marudevi, Bharata was born to Rishabh,
Bharatvarsha (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
—Vishnu Purana (2,1,32)

The Bhāratas were an Aryan 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. The term varsa means a division of the earth, or a continent. [3] A version of the Bagavatha Purana says, the Name Bharatha is after Jata Bharatha who appears in the fifth canto of the Bagavatha.

- Vishnu Purana (2.3.1)[2][3]
  1. 1.0 1.1 pages=ff. 8 p. 40
  • [1]
  • [2]
  • 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."

    The term in Classical Sanskrit literature is taken to comprise the present day territories of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Republic of India, Nepal and Bangladesh. This corresponds to the approximate extent of the historical Maurya Empire under emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka the Great (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).

    From the perspective of the Malay Archipelago, Indian traders were the most common ones coming from "the West", therefore the word was absorbed into the Malay language. In the Malay language, "barat" literally means "west", the cardinal point. The ordinal points of north-west is "barat laut" (literally "west-sea"), and south-west is "barat daya".

    For Middle Eastern traders, particularly Arabs and Turks, spices were the most common materials coming from the East. Hence, the term "Bharata" was borrowed first into Arabic as ', meaning "spices;" this migrated into the Turkish "baharat" with the same meaning.Template:Fix/category[citation needed]

    Hindustan and Hind

    Main article: Hindustan

    The name Hind is derived from the Iranian equivalent of Indo-Aryan Sindh. The Avestan -stān means country or land (cognate to Sanskrit sthāna "place, land").

    India was called Hindustān in Persian although 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.

    The terms Hind and Hindustān were current in Persian and Arabic from the 11th century Islamic conquests: the rulers in the Sultanate and Mughal periods called their Indian dominion, centred around Delhi, Hindustan.

    Hindustān, as is the term entered the English language in the 17th century. In the 19th century, the term as used in English referred to the northern region of India 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 British Raj.

    Hind (Hindi: हिन्द) remains in use in Hindi. In contemporary Persian language and Urdu language, the term Hindustan has come to mean the Republic of India. The same is the case with Arabic language, where al-Hind is the name of the Republic of India.

    Today, Hindustān does not stand as the official name for India. Although some countries in Middle East (Gulf) still refer to it with one of the old names of India, i.e. Hind or al-Hind.


    Tianzhu (天竺) Chinese name for ancient India, translates roughly to "heaven center(of)" (i.e. spiritual center); used especially during the Tang dynasty in reference to the Indian origins of Buddhism.

    Yin du

    印度 (pronounced Yin du) is the current Chinese word for India. It sounds similar to Hindu and Sindhu.

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