As we, the people of Bharat, recover from our colonial rule inflicted amnesia, we must recollect that we are a glorious civilization that has stood the tests of time for over 5000 years. We must realize how absurd it would be to rename Lakshmi to Lucy, or Narmada to Nancy, just as absurd it is to call Bharat, our Motherland, 'India'.
As we sit down to write our first blog, we think about our efforts to revive Bharat's ancient 'Gau Sanskriti', the progress we have achieved, the long distance that still remains, and what we need to share with our customers, our countrymen and the world at large. While doing so, it strikes us how an entire nation has accepted as a name that which was essentially given by invaders and colonizers...
How Colonial experience still dominates our thinking…
According to Wikipedia, “the name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the old Persian word 'Hindush', equivalent to the Sanskrit word ‘Sindhu’”, which was the historical local name for the river by that name. Wikipedia further says, “The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as 'Indoi', which translates as ‘the people of the Indus’”. Another name ‘Hindustan’ is a “middle Persian name, which was introduced into the country by the Moghuls".
When the Europeans started colonizing the world, this was a pattern they followed with colonies in Africa and Asia. They renamed practically every country, and often even regions or cities within the colonized countries. However, as the colonial occupation ended, governments in many of these places changed their names back to their original names. For example, ‘Ceylon’ reverted to ‘Sri Lanka’, ‘Peking’ to ‘Beijing’ and ‘Swaziland’ to ‘Kingdom of eSwatini’. However, for a vast majority of our countrymen, Bharat continues to remain 'India'. Essentially we have an English name for a Bharatiya nation!
Swami Vivekanand: O Bharat, this is your terrible danger. The spell of imitating the West is taking such a strong hold upon you that what is good or what is bad is no longer decided by reason, judgement, discrimination, or reference to the Shastras. Whatever ideas, whatever manners the white men praise or like are good; whatever things they dislike or censure are bad. Alas! what can be a more tangible proof of foolishness than this?"
What does 'Bharat' really mean?
We believe it is important to reflect upon what we have called ourselves since ages. Bharat is a name that is recognized by the Constitution of our country as an official name. From a historical perspective, the name Bharat is derived from the name of one of the most exemplary Kings in history. It is used by many Bharatiya languages to refer to our country. Since ancient times, 'Bharatvarsha' was used to refer to what we currently know as the 'Indian' subcontinent.
In Sanskrit from a spiritual perspective, based on an analysis of its roots "भा" and "रत", Bharat may be taken to mean 'engrossed in Light', and the country be referred to as the "Land of Light". In fact, in the Vedas 'Bharati' is one of the names given to Ma Swaraswati, and an aspect of the Divine Mother Aditi.
As Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev says, “What kept us together longer than any other nation on the planet is that essentially, we have always been a land of seekers – seekers of truth and liberation. In this seeking, we found oneness”.
A nation is referred by its geographical boundaries or its lands. As a result, most cultures of the world refer to their country as a Mother, and Bharat has been no exception. Sri Aurobindo went even further when he wrote, “For what is a nation? What is our mother country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of all the Shakties of all the millions of units that make up the nation". Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s 'Vande Mataram' became a battle cry for freedom fighters, which literally meant 'I revere The Mother'.
When patriots like Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad laid their lives for the country, they visualized a free and prosperous 'Bharat Mata'. Changing our nation’s name really amounts to renaming our Mother. Now most readers cannot imagine changing their biological Mother’s names from say, 'Kashi' to 'Kathy' or 'Catherine', and might even find the prospect laughable. And yet, when it comes to our nation, we remain steeped in ignorance about the true sound that has depicted our Motherland since ages.
The solution as we see it…
A name has a mantric effect, it carries unique vibrations, which have effects on the mind and body. The name of a nation can inspire the passion of its people, fire up their collective imagination, and create a shared aspiration.The solutions to the problems facing Bharat and the world lie within; we cannot afford to look at ourselves from the limited prism of outsiders. The name ‘Bharat’ helps us to see ourselves as part of a glorious civilization that has withstood the tests of time. While identifying with and learning from the genius of our ancestors, we at once find ourselves at a place from where we gain new insights and strength to create a happier, more sustainable future.
Swami Vivekananda: “I do not see into the future; nor do I care to see. But one vision I see dear as life before me: that the ancient Mother has awakened once more, sitting on Her throne rejuvenated, more glorious than ever. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction.”