Did You Know The History Behind Different Names Of India?

While India has many names including, Bharat and Hindustan, did you know how did the country get those names?

Heer Khant


It is common knowledge that the name ‘India’ is associated with the river Indus.

The name ‘Indus’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Sindhu’.

When the Persian explorers visited the land of ‘Sindhu’ the ‘s’ became ‘h’ due to the Iranian dialect. That is how the word ‘Hindu’  came into usage. But when the word entered Greek, the ‘h’ was lost, giving rise to the word Indos – which in turn became Indus in Latin.

The English term, ‘India’ is derived from Greek word ‘Ἰνδία‘. Herodotus in the 5th Century B.C. referred to the land beyond river Indus as ‘India’, marking the first use of the word for the land beyond the river.  There is an alternate theory to this which says it was the Europeans who started calling the land as ‘India’ derived from the world ‘Indus’.

In the Rig Ved, there are references to ‘Indu’ which scholars feels is the name used for India back then.


The official Sanskrit name for Bharat is Bharat Ganarajya. This name is taken from ancient Hindu Puranas that refer to the land India comprises of as Bharatvarsh.

As per the Vayu Purana, Bharatvarsh is named after Bharat who was born to Rishabhanath (the first Jain Tirthankara). Bharat Chakravartin was the eldest son of Rishabh. He is known to have established the Brahmin caste and conquered all six parts of the world. He was an emperor.

According to Bharat Khand, before India was called as Bharatvarsh, it was known as Nabhivarsh after King Nabhi who also was a Chakravartin and Rishabhanath’s father.


Hind was the Persian name for Sindh as explained above. It was the name given to the land across river Indus. Stan in Persian meant country or land – thus giving rise to the name Hindustan.

Although this name is not officially used, it is still used to denote the country by the Indians.

In the 19th century, the term as used in English referred to the northern region of India between the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers and between the Himalayas and the Vindhyas mountain ranges.

Hindustani language – is derived from this word. Hindustani is a mixture of Hindi and Urdu languages.


Aryavarta literally translates into the land of the ‘Aryans’. The northern part of India is given this name where the Indo-Aryans resided.

Manu Smriti’s verse 2:22 defines this land as “the tract between the Himalaya and the Vindhya ranges, from the Eastern (Bay of Bengal) to the Western Sea (Arabian Sea).”


Just like Aryavarta was the name given to North India, Dravida was used for the Southern part of the country. It means the place where the ‘Dravidians’ resided. Dravida is a Sanksrit word.

Apart from these names, there are translations in languages such as Hebrew and Chinese. In Chinese the country was called as Tianzhu while in Hebrew it was referred to as Hodu.

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Heer Khant
Heer Khant

Traveller | Writer | Photographer | Maverick | Social Worker | Lawyer | A freedom-loving woman for whom words are like wings to her soul. She believes in aliens, hates boundaries and lives like the first human on Earth.

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