I was going through this article in which there is a mention of India or 'Bharat' not being called as a country until in the Third century BC Ashoka used 'Jambudvipa' for 16 mahajanpadas which could be consolidated to realize the northern part of India.

But in our rituals, we take the sankalpa by saying -

'ॐ विष्णुर्विष्णुर्विष्णु:, ॐ अद्य ब्रह्मणोऽह्नि द्वितीय परार्धे श्री श्वेतवाराहकल्पे वैवस्वतमन्वन्तरे, अष्टाविंशतितमे कलियुगे, कलिप्रथम चरणे------- जम्बूद्वीपे भरतखण्डे भरतवर्षे'

oṃ viṣṇurviṣṇurviṣṇu:, oṃ adya brahmaṇo'hni dvitīya parārdhe śrī śvetavārāhakalpe vaivasvatamanvantare, aṣṭāviṃśatitame kaliyuge, kaliprathama caraṇe------- jambūdvīpe bharatakhaṇḍe bharatavarṣe

This means that the term 'Jambudvipa' existed much earlier than Ashoka and so did the term 'Bharat'

Is this correct, or I am missing something?

  • Please add a translation of the Sanskrit. May 31, 2018 at 8:54
  • Translation is a bit lengthy, a reference of which could be read here: proframanathan.blogspot.com/2014/05/…
    – Vikrant
    May 31, 2018 at 9:04
  • As is the Sanskrit, however, this is primarily an English language site and more than for my personal benefit I would like future users to easily know what this says May 31, 2018 at 9:06
  • "Oṃ Viṣṇurviṣṇurviṣṇu. Oṃ adya brahmaṇo'hni in the 2nd half of Brahma's life, in Sveta-Varaha kalpa, in the reign of current manu Vaivaswatha, in the 28th mahayuga of the current manavantara of Kali Yuga, in the first quarter, in the land of berries, in the land of Bharat." Is that correct? The reason I wanted the translation was to udnerstand why "this means that the term 'Jambudvipa' existed much earlier than Ashoka" May 31, 2018 at 9:25
  • @RubelliteYakṣī - My friend, this verse is mentioned in the puranas - the sacred hindu texts which date back to earlier than 5000 BC. If these verses contain the word 'Jambudvipa' and 'Bharta', then it becomes evident that these terms existed well before the reign of Ashoka the emperor who ruled india from 268 – 232 BC
    – Vikrant
    May 31, 2018 at 9:53

5 Answers 5


Nobody coined those two terms. Both are scriptural terms. They are found at many places in various Puranas.

Couple of such references from the Devi Bhagavata Purana (DBP):

141-159. Thus I have described to you the nature of Prakriti. So in this Punyabhumi Bharata Varsa, to worship the Devi is by all means desirable. In days past by, the King Suratha worshipped the Mula Prakriti Durga, the Destructrix of all evil. Then again Sri Rama Chandra worshipped Her when he wanted to kill Ravana. Since then Her worship is extant in the three worlds.

DBP 9.1

He who gives his whole property to a Brahmin, gets in the end four times that ; there is no doubt in this. He who gives Jambu Dvipa to an ascetic Brahmana, gets undoubtedly in the end one hundred times the fruit. If you give away Jambu Dvipa, the whole earth ; if you travel all the Tirthas, if you perform all sorts of asceticisms, if you give shelter to all, if you make gifts of all sorts, know that you will have to come again to be reborn in this earth ; but if you become a devotee of Mula Prakriti, then be sure that you won't have to come here and be reborn.

DBP 9.30

So, those two terms existed in the scriptures much before Ashoka's era.


Couple of more references from the same Purana:

0 Child! Now hear about the seven Dvîpas and the seven Oceans :-- The first is the Jambu Dvîpa; the second is Plaksa, the third is S'almalî; the fourth is the Kus'a Dvîpa; the fifth is Krauncha; the sixth is the S'aka Dvîpa; and the seventh is the Puskara Dvîpa. The second Dvîpa Plaksa is twice the first Jambu Dvîpa and so on; each succeeding Dvîpa is twice as large as its previous one.

DBP 8.4

[Lord Vishnu said] O Gange! You will also have to take incarnation in Bhârata as a river, purifying all the worlds, to destroy the sins of the inhabitants of Bhârata. Bhagiratha will take you there after much entreating and worshipping you; and you will be famous by the name Bhagirathî, the most sanctifying river in the world. There, the Ocean born of my parts, and the King S'ântanu also born of my parts will be your husbands. O Bharatî! Let you go also and incarnate in part in Bhârata under the curse of Gangâ.

DBP 9.6

So, here the country Bharata Varsha is being referred to.

  • 2
    Scriptural terms also have etymologies. Some rishi will use the term for the first time and that is the first usage of the term. E.g Martanda. Kashyapa is the one who used it for the 1st time. May 30, 2018 at 7:41
  • 1
    Every word in existance was 'coined' by someone. Sometimes nobody knows who came up with the word, but certainly someone did - words don't create themselves.
    – Pharap
    May 30, 2018 at 15:10
  • @Pharap, that logic holds only for languages created by humans.
    – ram
    Nov 21, 2018 at 20:33
  • @ram As opposed to the ones created by mustached bats?
    – Pharap
    Nov 22, 2018 at 1:53
  • @Pharap, as opposed to divinely created languages.
    – ram
    Nov 22, 2018 at 2:06

The article is wrong saying the terms were coined during Ashoka era. It existed in both Hinduism and Buddhism which predate Ashoka by lakhs of years.

Both of these terms occur in almost all the puranas. Jambu dvipa is an island which is mentioned in many puranas which means island containing Jambu fruits. It is one of the seven islands. Other being Plaksadvipa, Salmalidvipa, Kusadvipa, Krouncadvipa, Sakadvipa, and Pushkaradvipa.

Bhāratavarṣa is a very old term than many avatars of Vishnu including Rama and Krishna. India is named Bhāratavarṣa due to emperor Bharata who is son of Ṛṣabhadeva in an answer which explains how the etymology of the word is derived and how it is coined.

From Śrīmad Bhāgavatam. Skanda 5 chapter 7

ajanābhaṁ nāmaitad varṣaṁ bhāratam iti yata ārabhya vyapadiśanti.

Formerly this planet was known as Ajanābha-varṣa, but since Mahārāja Bharata’s reign it has become known as Bhārata-varṣa.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. I also had the same understanding but had to substantiation.
    – Vikrant
    May 30, 2018 at 8:46
  • Do you want more references from Puranas? Because explanation of these islands is found in almost all the Maha puranas. May 30, 2018 at 8:50
  • 1
    Thanks, You have provided me with a way to progress. I will do the rest of investigation about these islands, and of course get back to this thread if I find any further problems.
    – Vikrant
    May 30, 2018 at 8:54

The existence of Ashoka is doubtful in itself, considering that there is no documents (pre 19th century) or stone engravings (except a minor one in Karnataka, was it fabricated ??), that acknowledge him anywhere.

Coming to the question about Bharata, it is older than the king's name - a combination of BHAva, RAga, TAala - the three aspects of cosmic dance.

References : http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.com/2014/08/chanakya-taxila-university-professor.html http://ajitvadakayil.blogspot.com/2017/04/sanatana-dharma-hinduism-exhumed-and_29.html

  • 2
    I see no relation between the answer and the blog links you have posted. They are totally irrelevant. They are just personal opinions of the author. Such blogs are not considered valid sources on the site. Add valid sources otherwise your answer may subjected to deletion because it looks like a random comment. May 30, 2018 at 12:02
  • @UdayKrishna The national flag's spoked wheel is present in multiple engravings all over India.the number of spokes also vary. ASI has the detailed list. It signifies the Dharma chakra. There is no reason to link them to any king called Ashoka. Definitely, some of them were found in same locations where Devanam Priya's edicts were found.
    – Yogesh D
    May 30, 2018 at 12:13
  • @Sarvabhouma So you think that equating devanam priyadarsi to Ashoka was not James Prinsep's personal opinion ? Strange!!!
    – Yogesh D
    May 30, 2018 at 12:34

Bhārat comes from the Bhārata dynasty founded by Emporer Bhārata, son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. The story of how he came to be called Bhārata (the cherished) is in Adi Parva & the play Abhijñāna Shākuntala. It originally referred to only a northern portion of India.

In Puranic cosmography, Jambu-dvīpa is the center of the world around which lay seven concentric island continents (sapta-dvipa vasumati) separated by seven concentric oceans. Snippet from India and Central Asia
—Braja Bihārī Kumāra, India and Central Asia: Classical to Contemporary Periods, page 11


According to the Bhagavata Puranam, The name Bharata in Bharata Varsha is attributed to the great Saint King Bharata, also called Jada Bharata. Before renouncing the kingdom and becoming an ascetic he was a great monarch ruling all of Jambu Dwipa. Sri Sukha himself says this to Parikshit.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .