A political tempest has surged over the invitations sent out for an upcoming dinner hosted by the President, intended for global leaders attending the imminent G20 Summit. What has ignited this controversy is the use of the term ‘President of Bharat’ instead of the customary ‘President of India.’ While the Opposition alleges that this shift reflects a political maneuver by the BJP due to their alliance’s moniker ‘INDIA,’ the ruling party, in turn, challenges why the ‘Congress is perturbed by Bharat.’
Constitutional Complexity: Bharat vs. India
This latest discordance brings to light a longstanding conundrum woven within the pages of the Indian Constitution. Article 1 of the Constitution elucidates: “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” However, India has also been associated with myriad other designations over its rich history, encompassing Hindustan, Bharatvarsha, and Aryavarta.
Historical Insights from Vinayak Damodar Savarkar
Amidst this labyrinthine debate, the discourse on ‘Bharat’ versus ‘India’ unfolds concurrently with another contentious matter – DMK leader Udhayanidhi Stalin’s remarks concerning Sanatan Dharma. In response to these intricacies, the Hindutva ideologue, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, in his seminal work titled ‘Essentials of Hindutva,’ provides discerning insights. Savarkar illuminates the historical context of Hindustan and Bharat, along with a distinction between Sanatan Dharma, Hinduism, and Hindutva.
Aryans and the Sapta Sindhu
Savarkar posits that the terms ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindustan’ most aptly encapsulate the populace residing between the geographical confines of Sindhu, commonly referred to as the Indus River in the north, and the Indian Ocean to the south. He postulates that the appellation ‘Sindhu’ was bestowed by the Aryans, and the shift from ‘S’ to ‘H’ in Persian and Prakrit languages suggests an indigenous genesis for this term. Savarkar contends that even before the venerable civilizations of ancient Egypt and Babylon, the sacred waters of the Indus bore witness to Vedic rituals and hymns, infusing spiritual vitality into the land.
Savarkar elucidates that the Aryans, who revered the seven rivers presided over by the Sindhu, named themselves the ‘Sapta Sindhus.’ This nomenclature found its way into the oldest records of the world, notably the Rigveda. Furthermore, Savarkar suggests that ‘Hapta Hindu’ can be traced in the Avesta, the ancient Zoroastrian religious texts, and subsequently disseminated beyond Persia.
Hindustan and Bharat: Shifting Centers
Savarkar posits that the term ‘Bharat’ came into prominence when the epicenter of influence shifted from the Sapta Sindhu region to the Gangetic delta. ‘Aryawarta’ or ‘Bramhawarta,’ as delineated by ancient writers, was not sufficiently inclusive to encapsulate the vast synthesis of a nation extending from the Indus to the sea. Savarkar contends that this necessity led to the emergence of the term ‘Bharat,’ signifying a unifying force encompassing the entire land.
However, Savarkar acknowledges that ‘Bharatavarsha’ could not entirely eclipse the historical legacy of ‘Sindhus’ or ‘Hindus,’ nor did it efface their reverence for the Indus River. Foreigners, too, continued to associate the land with ‘Sindhu.’ Savarkar cites Shalivahan, the grandson of King Vikramaditya, who described it as “Sindhusthan” for Aryans and “Mlecch country” for those beyond the Indus.
In Conclusion: The Enduring ‘Sindhu’
Savarkar’s discourse underscores that ‘Saptasindhu’ or ‘Sindhu’ stands as the most ancient appellation for the land, invoking a profound connection with the timeless river. Even ‘Bharatvarsha,’ while significant, represents a relatively later and personalized epithet. In this perspective, the name ‘Hindu’ endears the land and its people with an eternal essence, rooted in the embrace of nature and founded upon a bedrock seemingly as enduring as eternity itself.
Savarkar’s Insights on Sanatan Dharma, Hindu Dharma, and Hindutva
Savarkar delineates followers of Sanatan Dharma as those who acknowledge the authority of Shruti, Smriti, and Puranas, wherein Shruti and Smriti pertain to Vedic literature. He draws a distinction between orthodox Hinduism, which subscribes to Sanatan Dharma, and other Hindu sects such as Sikh Dharma, Arya Dharma, Jain Dharma, or Buddha Dharma, which may partially or wholly reject the authority of certain scriptures. He emphasizes that Sanatan Dharma, with its roots in Shruti, Smriti, and Puranas, is a sect of Hinduism, irrespective of the numerical majority it commands.
Furthermore, Savarkar delineates ‘Hindutva’ as not merely a term but a comprehensive historical narrative encompassing not only the spiritual and religious history but the entirety of the Indian saga. Hinduism, he suggests, represents only a fraction, a derivative, of the all-encompassing ‘Hindutva.’
In sum, Savarkar’s writings provide a profound understanding of the historical nuances encapsulated within terms like ‘Hindustan’ and ‘Bharat,’ as well as the distinctions between Sanatan Dharma, Hindu Dharma, and the expansive concept of Hindutva.