By Swami Harshananda
Bhāratavarṣa literally means ‘the continent ruled by Bharata’.
Ancient and medieval scriptures often refer to India as ‘Bhāratavarṣa,’ ‘Bharatakhaṇḍa,’ ‘Jambudvīpa’ and so on. Generally, the country situated to the south of the Himalayas and to the north of the Indian ocean is described as ‘Bhāratavarṣa,’ practically the same as modern India or undivided India.
Sometimes, Jambudvīpa is described as comprising of nine countries, out of which Bhāratavarṣa is one. The name ‘Bhārata- varṣa’ might have been derived from the names of its rulers like Manu (who was also called Bharata) or Bharata, the son of Ṛṣabhadeva or Bharata-Sarvadamana, the son of Duṣyanta and Śakuntalā.
Well-known mountains like Himāvat, Mahendra and Malaya, and rivers like Sarasvatī, Gaṅgā, Yamunā and Gomatī belong to this Bhāratavarṣa. Even in the early works it has been admitted that dharma was fully developed in the Bhāratavarṣa and that the people were highly cultured.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore