Short read: Sindhu > Hindus > Indhus > Indos > Indus > India
In light of recent “India and Bharat” distinction, I got confused. Don’t they mean the same thing? But given in the land where every name has a meaning, I wondered what does India mean (assuming we all know that Bharat comes Raja Bharat who used to rule a bigger chunk of current India)
The Curious Case of India
Me: So, where does the word India come from?
Google: Pretty simple – right from the river Indus.
Me: Ok smarty search, now where does the word “Indus” come from?
Google: “your search did not match any documents”
.. For the unindexed, Indus is a derivative of the group of rivers flowing through erstwhile west India (the irony always amuses me)
like Nolan, lets trace its roots
India Begins – A Story of Hindustan and Bharat
Now back in the days when Sanskrit was the de facto language, this big group of rivers flowing through erstwhile west India was known as “Sapt-Sindhu” – which means seven rivers in Sanskrit – Indus and its tributaries – Sutlej, Jhelum, Beas, Ravi, Chenab and the now extinct Saraswati.
The people/culture/civilization living around Sindhu came to be known as “Sindhu”. The Persian traders started pronouncing it “Hindus”. The land of “Hindus” hence came to be known as Hindustan. So the people living in India before mughals were knows as Hindus or Hindustani. Which inherently means that “hindu” is actually another name for the people leaving in India and has got nothing to do with religion. After all, none of the religious texts in India call the people as “hindus”. This reminds me of the famous lines by Muhammad Iqbal:
“mażhab nahīñ sikhātā āpas meñ bair rakhnāhindī haiñ ham, vatan hai hindostāñ hamārā”
It’s all Greek and Roman
The early European traders picked up “Hindus” from asian merchants, esp persians. The greeks simplified the name further by calling it “Indos”, and then some bright greek scholar thought of substituting the “o” with ‘u”… and thus the name Indus was born. The Romans picked up the name and land of “Indus” came to be known as “India”.
Guess then I am a Hindu from the Bharat of India