Our Cultural legacy and Bharatvarsh

To  understand the cultural heritage of the sub-continent one needs to  look into the etymologically derived meaning of Bharat which is  rooted to the Sanskrit verb ‘Bha’ which means light and the term  ‘Rat’ that means immersing or devoted. The term ‘varsh’ which  means country was added with Bharat and therefore the meaning of the  complete word Bharatvarsh is a country where people are deeply  immersed to Divine Light. Since the natives of this region were  considered then as noble beings, they were called Aarya. Anyone  addressing elders used to call them as Aarya.

The  Country of Aaryavart:
Therefore,  this land of nobles was also known as Aaryavart (country of noble  beings). In fact irrespective of their varied caste, sect, region,  local customs, food habits, costumes, professions and languages, they  believed in polytheistic Sanatana Dharma that originated from the  liberal Vedic texts – EKAM SADVIPRAH BAHUDHA VADANTI (He is one,  wise men call Him differently) and the spiritual voices of their  ascetic ancestors that permitted complete freedom to worship the  deities of one’s choice without any ill-will against any other  faith. With such spiritual strength and freedom they maintained the  cultural unity of their country and gradually contributed to the  internationally acclaimed civilisation, as its people were deeply  immersed to the roots of Bharatvarsh.

The  spiritually rooted Vedic name Bharat was the foundation stone of the  socio-cultural history of this sub-continent. The hymn “Bramhmidam  rakshati Bhartam janam” from Rig-Veda suggests that the name Bharat  dates back to Vedic period. With a view to carry forward the legacy  of the name Bharat, the people began all the Vedic rituals with  chanting the invocatory mantra namely ...swetvarah kalpe --- kaliyuge  jambudwipe bharatvarshe ... and so on.

The ancient scripture  Vishnu Puran while referring to the geographical boundary of this  country says: “उत्तरं  यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव  दक्षिणम् । वर्षं तद् भारतं  नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ” (The  country (varam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy  mountains is called Bhāratam; where dwell the descendants of Bharata  known as Bharati. It also says: “ ऋषभो  मरुदेव्याश्च ऋषभात भरतो  भवेत् भरताद भारतं वर्षं,  भरतात  सुमतिस्त्वभूत्” (Rishabha  was born to Marudevi, Bharata was born to Rishabh, Bharatvarsha  (India) arose from Bharata, and Sumati arose from Bharata (Ibid.).  Apart from the son of the ancient saint Rishabhdeo who is believed to  be the first Tirthankara of Jainism, two more Bharatas namely the  younger brother of Lord Rama in Treta Yug and son of King Dushyant in  Dwapar Yug are believed to be the root to the name Bharat. However,  of the three, the last one that is the son of Dushyant has been more  popular behind this name.

Eulogising  this country the Vishnu Puran further says: "Gayanti devah kil  Geetkaani, Dhanyaastu te Bharat bhumi bhaage, Swargapavarga aspad  margabhutei Bhavanti bhooyah purushah suratvaat” ...... (Bharat is  the way of all of the heavenly pleasures and even salvation. It’s a  very welcome piece of fortune to be born as a human being on this  soil of Bharat in spite of being a deity).

Then  came the Islamic Invaders and attempted destruction of ancient  culture:
Against  the backdrop of such a spiritually rooted name of this sub-continent,  the Islamist invaders while indulging in mass conversion under the  shadow of sword wanted the subjugated people to forget the name of  their motherland and replaced it with Perso-Arabic name Hindustan  which they used to call the territory across the river Sindhu  (Indus). This name was however, neither known to the locals nor had  any reference in the ancient scriptures and literature of this  region. The idea behind such an attempt was to eliminate the national  identity of the locals as they did in Persia, Egypt and other Central  Asian Countries.

In fact, after destroying the temples and  traditional educational institutions like the ancient universities of  Nalanda, Takshshila and Vikramshila, the Islamists even sidelined  Sanskrit the ancient language of this land which was also the  language of administration. Philologically, with its unique grammar,  semantics and diction, Sanskrit happens to be the mother of most of  the Indian languages. Known as ‘Devavani’ (the language of God),  Sanskrit was the language of Vedic rituals, scriptures and literature  which were the cultural heritage of Bharat. Hence with a view to  completely eliminate the cultural heritage of this land, the alien  rulers sidelined Sanskrit by replacing this language of  administration with Persian. Their cultural invasion to liquidate the  indigenous culture was to de-Bharatise its people and Arabise them  permanently. “Islam has had a calamitous effect on converted  people. To be converted you have to destroy your past, destroy your  history. You have to stamp on it, you have to say – my ancestral  culture does not exist, it does not matter”. (V. S. Naipaul in Half  a Life by Azim A. Nanji, ed;Muslim Alma, 1996, page 58).

The  cultural past of the sub-continent, Bharat survived despite  destructive invasions as the larger majority of the natives even  after facing the trauma and stigma of the hate crimes perpetrated on  them did not succumb to their brutal assault and saved their cultural  past including the name Bharat. Another irony followed and like the  Islamists before the British continued to side line Sanskrit and  brought in the word “India” to replace Hindusthan.

The  British were No Better:
Like  the Islamists, the British also sidelined Sanskrit the traditional  official language of the country. While the Islamist rulers replaced  Sanskrit with Persian in administration, the British introduced  English as the official language and medium of education.

Thomas  Babington Macaulay (1800-1859), a British historian, politician, and  an inaugural member of a governing Supreme Council of India imported  English form of education through his famous Minute on Indian  Education of February 1835. He believed in creating a class of  persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in  opinions, in morals, and in intellect and thus successfully created a  sizeable group of Anglicised native elite. The British used them as  interpreters between the Empire and the subject. Popularly known as  Macaulayism, the objective behind this policy was to sideline the  indigenous culture and impose the Western cultural ethos on the  natives. He was so confident about his plan that he wrote the  following letter dated October 12, 1836 to his father: "Our  English schools are flourishing wonderfully.... The effect of this  education on Hindus is prodigious. No Hindu who has received an  English education ever remains sincerely attached to his religion. It  is my firm belief that if our plans of education are followed up,  there will not be a single idolater among the respected classes 30  years hence. And this will be effected without our efforts to  proselytize; I heartily rejoice in the prospect."

Distortion  of the cultural history of our country which is still preserved in  Vedic texts and its associated scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharat,  various Upanishadas, Puranas, philosophy, astronomy, medical science,  economics and literature all in Sanskrit language was also carried  out by the British by utilising the services of paid European and  Marxist historians who declared this rich cultural history as myth  and discovered a unique bogus theory of Aryan invasion. They even  portrayed the historical heroes of Muslim Era like Mewar ruler  Maharana Pratap (1540-1597), Maratha king Shivaji (1627-1680),  Chatrashal (1649-1731) of Bundelkhand, and many other Jat leaders as  rebels. In fact these nationalist icons had actually fought against  the Moguls for defending their Kingdoms.

Apart  from it, the British also won over the loyalty of a significant  section of English educated Muslims under the leadership of Sir Syed  Ahmad (1817-1898), scion of a Mogul family. Syed believed that the  British would continue to rule India for generations and accordingly  propagated among the Muslim elite that the community should be loyal  to the new Empire.

The  Emergence of Indian National Congress:
Similarly,  sensing a new awakening among the natives brought out by social  reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833), Swami Dayanad  (1824-1883), Vivekanand (1863-1902) and others as a danger to the  imperial throne, A.O.Humes (1829-1912), a retired British Civil  Servant in confidence of the Governor General formed Indian National  Congress (INC) in 1895 as a platform for a dialogue between the  educated Indians and the British Raj. The idea behind this move was  to win over the English educated intelligentsia from the religious  majority group to ensure that the dialogue between the INC and the  British Government would consolidate the hold of Empire on the colony  and also facilitate the transformation of the colony into the Western  cultural ethos.

A  section of the native leaders of the INC understood the game of the  British and the party got divided into moderates (soft towards the  British) and the radicals (forceful in their nationalist approach)  popularly known as "Naram Dal and Garam Dal".

Although,  the British patronised the moderates to sideline the nationalist  voices raised by the radicals the slogan - "Freedom is our birth  right" raised by Tilak gradually became the key word of the  freedom movement for full independence of the country.

Death  of Tilak was a big jolt to the nationalist forces as a result a group  of anglicised left-liberal intellectuals and the political class that  had no emotional attachment to the cultural wealth of this country  took over the command of freedom movement and offset any chance of  restoring the unique culture based national identity of the  country.

Country  was named India and not Bharat as it should have been:
After  Independence, the nationalist forces within the Congress strongly  argued in Constituent Assembly debate for restoration of the ancient  name of Bharat on the ground of its antiquity. During a long debate  in Constituent Assembly on 18 September 1949 over naming of the newly  born republic of Bharat prominent suggestions like Bharat, Hindustan,  Hind, Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh came up for discussion. Leaders like  K.M.Munshi, H. V. Kamath, Sampurnanand, Kamalapati Tripathi and many  others strongly argued in favour of the ancient name Bharat,  Bharatbhumi or Bharatvarsh which dates back to the Vedic era. Arguing  in favour of restoring the sole name of Bharat in the constitution,  Kamalapati Tripathi said, "There is no country in the world  which has been able to preserve its name and its genius even after  undergoing the amount of repression, the insults and prolonged  slavery which our country had to pass through. Even after thousands  of years our country is still known as 'Bharat'. (Constituent  Assembly Debate on 18 September, 1949 Volume IX OF Constituent  Assembly.

However,  the saner argument of the nationalist members failed to convince the  members who were committed to the flawed vision of European and  Marxist historians about Bharat and therefore, "Bharat, or, in  the English language, India, shall be a Union of States" was put  to vote by show of hands. Thus the name India, that is, Bharat was  declared as the official name of the country.

To  destroy People, destroy Their History:
Perhaps  George Orwell (1903-1950) a noted British political writer and  journalist rightly said, "the most effective way to destroy the  people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their  history." This is what happened in post-independence India when  the legacy of destroying the culturally rooted name Bharat that began  in the Islamist era, continued by the British and allowed to continue  in the name of vote bank politics by the left-liberal ‘secular’  parties until this day!

Instead  of following the footsteps of our ancestors who carried forward the  legacy of the struggle all through the ages to defend the cultural  and civilisational history of the country successive governments  ignored the cultural heritage of this country to ensure its death.  Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975), the British historian of  civilisations` rightly observed that "Civilisations die from  suicide, not murder" (The way to save Hindu civilisation by J G  Arora.)

The  need is to bury the flawed history:
This  brings us to the unseemly controversy over the slogan of Bharat mata  ki jai. If AIMIM President Assaduddin Owaisi tries to revive the  failed legacy of his masters like commander Rizvi, one should  understand that his attempts are to revive the deep rooted Islamist  designs of past rulers who had tried to eliminate our country’s  legacy. The foreign invaders had not succeeded and Owaisi will not  succeed either.

But  the need to make an honest national effort to review the flawed  history of the country imposed by intruders and invaders is an urgent  necessity and needs to be taken seriously at all levels.

First  published Click here to view

Also read
1. Of Hindu, Hindustan and Hindi
2. Why Secularism is not an Indian concept

Receive Site Updates