Why is there so much halla gulla over Bharat?

Jagdish R Sharma
Close on the heels of the announcement of holding a Special Parliamentary Session between 18-22 September 2023, by the Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Pralhad Joshi, opposition bloc I.N.D.I.A has been caught by surprise.
Some of them are terming it, yet another surgical strike like demonetisation, others are conjecturing that women’s reservation bill may be passed during this period. Yet some others are making wild speculations that the name of the country may be changed to Bharat only.
With the passing of each day, the heartbeat of politicians is increasing because the Government headed by PM Narender Modi is known for springing surprises and taking bold initiatives in the interest of the Nation. The acumen and statesmanship of PM Modi has no boundary and even the astuteness of political pundits fail to reach any conclusion. Indian PM Modi has grown to such a stature that world leaders are impatient to meet him and share platforms.
Opposition political parties became more sceptical when they found the Modi government referring to the country as Bharat on official invitations, leaving many wondering whether the name will be changed. In dinner invitations sent on Tuesday to guests attending the Group of 20 (G20) summit, Draupadi Murmu is referred to as “President of Bharat” instead of the “President of India”.
On the same day, a tweet by a senior spokesman of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Modi was attending a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia as the “Prime Minister of Bharat”. During the two-day G20 meeting, PM Modi was also seen with a wooden plaque written as Prime Minister of Bharat.
The five-day special session of Parliament is expected to begin in the old building and will later be shifted to the new Parliament House building on September 19.
The summoning of Parliament is specified in Article 85 of the Constitution. Like many other Articles, it is based on a provision of The Government of India Act, 1935, which specifies that the central legislature be summoned at least once a year and that not more than 12 months elapsed between two sessions.
Over the years, there has been a decline in the sittings of Parliament. During the first two decades of Parliament, the Lok Sabha met for an average of a little more than 120 days a year. This has come down to approximately 70 days in the last decade.
The special session scheduled for 18-22 September is altogether apart from the scheduled sessions like Budget session, Monsoon session and Winter Sessions. It will be the second one held by the Narendra Modi-led government. The last time Parliament held such a special session was in 2017. In a midnight sitting of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the government had rolled out the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the biggest indirect tax reform since Independence, that replaced all central and state taxes with a single tax.
It was the first time a legislative Act was the subject of a special midnight session – the previous ones were held to commemorate events of historic significance. Other Midnight sessions were previously held on August 15, 1997, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence; on August 9, 1992, for the 50th anniversary of the Quit India Movement; on August 15, 1972, to celebrate the silver jubilee of Independence; and the first ever, on August 14-15, 1947, on the eve of Independence.
Significance of Bharat
“Bharat”, the name for India in several Indian languages, is mainly derived from the name of the Vedic tribe of Bharatas who are mentioned in the Rigveda as one of the principal kingdoms of the Aryavarta. It is also variously said to be derived from the name of either Dushyanta’s son Bharata of Mahabharata or Jain Tirthankara Rishabhanatha’s son Bharata. At the very beginning, the name Bharat referred only to the western part of the Gangetic Valley 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 located therein. The name “India” is originally derived from the name of the river Sindhu (Indus River) and has been in use in Greek since Herodotus (5th century BCE). The term appeared in Old English as early the 9th century and reemerged in Modern English in the 17th century.
“Hindustan” is a third name for the Republic of India. It was popular during Mughal’s rule. The term ‘Hindu’ was the Old Persian adaption of “Sindhu” (Indus River). “Hindustan” is still common amongst Urdu scholars. The name derives ultimately from Sanskrit Sindhu , which was the name of the Indus River as well as the lower Indus basin (modern Sindh, in Pakistan).The Old Persian equivalent of Sindhu was Hindu.
Religious Scriptures and the Bharat
According to the Puranas, this country is known as Bh?ratavar?a after Bharat. This has been mentioned in Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, Linga Purana , Brahmanda Purana , Agni Purana , Skanda Purana, Khanda and Markandaya Purana , all using the designation Bh?ratavar?a.
Vishnu Purana mentions the name Bharat and its geographical location as follows:
rr’p Hkkjra o”kZesrYyksds”kqxh;rsA
Hkjrk; ;r% fi=k nra izfrf”Brk oue~ AA
This country is known as Bh?ratavar?a since the times the father entrusted the kingdom to the son Bharata and he himself went to the forest for ascetic practices.
Uttaram yatsamudrasya himadrescaiva daksinam
varsam tadbharatam nama bharati yatra santatih
mRrja ;RleqnzL; fgeknsZ’pSo nf{k.ke~A
o”kZ rn~ Hkkjra uke Hkkjrh ;= larfr%AA
“The country (var?am) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bharat; there dwell the descendants of Bharata.”
The realm of Bharat is known as Bh?ratavar?a in the Mahabharata (the core portion of which is itself known as Bharat) and later texts. According to the text, the term Bharat is from the king Bharat, who was the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala and the term varsa means a division of the earth or a continent. Bharat Khanda (or Bh?rata K?etra) is a term used in some of the Hindu texts.
Yet another name Jambudvipa also finds significant place in some scriptures and while performing pooja by Hindus the name is recited by the devotees. Jambudv?pa was used in ancient scriptures as a name of India before the term Bharata became widespread. 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.
Sadguru Vasudev spiritual Guru, Founder of Isha Foundation NGO in an interview with Kiran Bedi , ten years back has also propounded that the” Bharat is the appropriate ” name for India . He emphasised his point by saying that “giving alien names to a country or person is an insult and to supress our rich heritage”.
The constitution of India also says, “India is Bharat.” So, the Republic of India can also be referred to as the Republic of Bharat. India’s name has been given by the outsiders and the Bharat by its inhabitants and culture appropriate. Some people also argue that the name India has been used as slang to denote slavery. There shouldn’t be any problem if the usage of Bharat becomes predominant in India. Many other countries like Turkey have also changed its name. Turkey adopted its official name, the Republic of Turkey, more commonly known as Turkey in 1923. But, in 2021, it changed its name through the UN, to Türkiye.
(The author is formerly Principal Education Department)