Sanatana Dharma originated in India. India also has another name: "Bharata/Bharathavarsha". The term ArshaBharata culture is commonly used for pointing out the Sanatana Dharma in South India. How did the nation get this name?

  • what is ArhsaBharatha? Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 6:48
  • South, I'm from South. Never heard this term? Is it Tamil? Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 11:42
  • Malayalam,Kerala, I thought the term is used in other states too, that caused the confusion,
    – user11
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 11:52
  • what? I'm mallu expat. Never heard. Anyways I'm not so good with Malayalam. Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 12:18
  • @VineetMenon:Arsha means ഋഷിയെ സംബന്ധിച്ച(related to rishis),sorry for the confusion...Mainly wanted to emphasize on the term Bharatha. The term arhsabharatha is widely used in Malayalam anyway.
    – user11
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 15:37

3 Answers 3


After the name of an ancient king Bharata, India is also known as Bharata-varṣa since the prehistoric times. Before it, this land was called as Ajanābha-varṣa. This is stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam:

ajanābhaṁ nāmaitad varṣaṁ bhāratam iti yata ārabhya vyapadiśanti. [SB - 5.7.3]

The name of this land was Ajanabha. It came to be known as Bharata after starting of his (King Bharata) reign.

  • 1
    And King Bharat was son of Shakuntala and Dushyant and grandson of Brahmarishi Vishwamitra. Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 9:08
  • @dbasic: In Bhagavata, there is story about a deer and Bharatha/Jadabharatha. Are both these Bharathas same?
    – user11
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 12:05
  • @ArunningMind: I have read that story in Wikipedia (not before that). It looks different. Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 12:51
  • 3
    @ArunningMind yes, both are same but different incarnations. King Bharat after retiring to the order of sannyasa towards the end of his life got fond of a deer that he had rescued from water. As he died thinking of the deer, in the next birth he had to become a deer. Then after the end of that birth he again took birth as a human and became a paramahansa. So he came to be known as Jadabharata.
    – Be Happy
    Commented Jun 22, 2014 at 14:55
  • @jabahar I have not read anywhere that these two are same but different incarnations. Is there any quotations from the Veda stating the same? As far as I know, these two are different beings. Jadabharata in his latest and perhaps the last incarnation was recognized in the Swaminarayan sampradaya as Nishkulanand Swami (1766–1848).
    – Kapil Vyas
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 4:01

Besides Srimada Bhagvatam, other texts also mention the same reasons. Just adding here for references.

1. Skanda-Mahāpurāṇa


भरतोनाम राजाऽभूदाग्नीध्रः प्रथितः क्षितौ ।
यस्येदं भारतं वर्षं नाम्ना लोकेषु गीयते ॥ २ ॥

  1. There was a great king named Bharata on the earth. He was the son of Agnīdhra. This Bhāratavarṣa is named after him.

2. Brahmāṇḍa-Mahāpurāṇa

Chapter 14, Anuṣaṅga-pāda, Brahmāṇḍapurāṇa

सोभिषिच्यर्षभः पुत्रं महाप्रव्रज्यया स्थितः ।
हिमाह्वं दक्षिणं वर्षं भरताय न्यवेदयत् ॥ १४.६१ ॥
तस्मात्तु भारतं वर्षं तस्य नाम्ना विदुर्बुधाः ॥ १४.६२. क ॥

  • 61,62a. Ṛṣabha crowned his son and engaged himself in Mahāpravrajyā (the great migration of renunciation i.e. journey or pilgrimage till death). He allotted the southern sub-continent named Hima to Bharata. Hence learned men know this sub-continent as Bhāratavarṣa after his name.

As per this text translation by G.V. Tagare, the previous name of the Bhāratavarṣa was Hima.


Apart from the King Bharata the son of Rishabha mentioned in the other answers there is an alternate theory also.

Since the country (Varsa) is called Bharata the people are Bharatis. Since Manu [1] ruled over the people, he is called Bharata. Etymologically derived thus the Varsa (country) is called Bharata.

Vayu Purana I.45.76

[1] This etymological explanation of ‘Bharata’ attributing its credit to Manu who is called ‘Bharata’ due to his act of maintaining (and feeding the people) supersedes the Jaina tradition which attributes it to Bharata, the son of Tirthankara Rishabha

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