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In some parts of India (e.g. West Bengal), they use the words Bharata and Bharatavarsha interchangeably.

As far as I understand, Bharata is roughly present-day India, and Bharatavarsha is the entire Indian subcontinent. In other words, Bharata is a part of Bharatavarsha. Am I correct?

What do ancient Hindu scriptures say about it?

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The term Bhārata & Bhārata-Varṣa may be used interchangeably.

  • Varṣa just means a "region" or a "division".

The Skanda Mahā-Purāṇa and the Agni Mahā-Purāṇa exactly mentions what constitutes the BhārataVarṣa.




1. Skanda Mahā-Purāṇa

Chapter 11, Prabhāsa-kṣetra-māhātmya, Skanda-purāṇa

ईश्वर उवाच ।

पृथिव्या मध्यगर्भस्थं जंबूद्वीपमिति स्मृतम् । तच्च वै नवधा भिन्नं वर्षभेदेन सुन्दरि ॥ ६ ॥

Īśvara said:

  1. What is remembered as Jaṃbūdvīpa is exactly at the centre of the earth. It is divided into nine regions, O beautiful woman, known as the different Varṣas (regions).

तस्याद्यं भारतं वर्षं तच्चापि नवधा स्मृतम् । नवयोजनसाहस्रं दक्षिणोत्तरमानतः ॥ ७ ॥

  1. Therein, the first Varṣa is Bhārata. It is also remembered as being divided into nine parts. From south to north it measures nine thousand Yojanas.

अशीतिश्च सहस्राणि पूर्वपश्चायतं स्मृतम् । उत्तरे हिमवानस्ति क्षीरोदो दक्षिणे स्मृतः ॥ ८ ॥

  1. The distance from east to west is eighty thousand. Himavān is in the north. The Kṣīroda (ocean) is in the south.

एतस्मिन्नंतरे देवि भारतं क्षेत्रमुत्तमम् । कृतं त्रेता द्वापरं च तिष्यं युगचतुष्टयम् ॥ ९ ॥ अत्रैवैषा युगावस्था चतुर्वर्णश्च वै जनः । १०.क ।

  • 9 to 10a. O goddess, Bhārata, the excellent Kṣetra, is in between. There are four Yugas, viz. Kṛta, Tretā, Dvāpara and Tiṣya (i.e. Kali). The division of Yugas exists only here. So also the classification of the people into four Varṇas.

चत्वारि त्रीणि च द्वे च तथैवैक शरच्छतम् ॥ १०. ख ॥ जीवन्त्यत्र नरा देवि कृतत्रेतादिषु क्रमात् । यदेतत्पार्थिवं पद्मं चतुष्पत्रं मयोदितम् ॥ ११ ॥ वर्षाणि भारताद्यानि पत्राण्यस्य चतुर्द्दिशम् । भारतं केतुमालं च कुरु भद्राश्वमेव च ॥ १२ ॥

  • 10b. to 12. O goddess, the men here live upto four hundred, three hundred, two hundred and one hundred years, in the Yugas Kṛta, Tretā etc. respectively. I told you about the earth likened to a lotus with four petals. The Varṣas Bhārata etc. are the petals in the four quarters, viz. Bhārata, Ketumāla, Kuru and Bhadrāśva. भारतं नाम यद्वर्षं दाक्षिणात्यं मयोदितम् । दक्षिणापरतो यस्य पूर्वेण च महोदधिः । हिमवानुत्तरेणास्य कार्मुकस्य यथा गुणः ॥ १३ ॥
  1. The southern-most Varṣa that has been mentioned by me by the name Bhārata has oceans to its south, west and east. Himavān is to the north like string unto bow.

English Translation by G.V. Tagare




Agni Purāṇa also ratifies the above Passages.

2. Agni Mahā-Purāṇa:

Chapter 118

अग्निरुवाच:

उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणं । वर्षं तद्भारतं नाम नवसाहस्रविस्तृतं ॥१॥

Agni Said -

  1. That country which (lies) to the north of ocean and south of Himādri (Himālaya) is known as the Bhāratavarṣa extending to nine thousand (yojanas).

English Translation by N. Gangadharan




So basically, most parts of the present day Indian Subcontinent - bounded by the great Himalayas in the North, the Arabic Sea in West, the Indian Ocean in the South, and the Bay of Bengal to the East, this portion in between these four bodies constitutes the BhārataVarṣa, as per the Skanda & the Agni Mahā-Purāṇa.

Bhārata & Bhārata-Varṣa are same as per the texts.

Politically, in the present day context, Bhārata refers to the Republic of India, as codified in the 1st Article of the Indian Constitution as -

Article 1.1 - "India, that is Bharat, shall be a union of states."

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    Nice answer. Upvoted. :) But just out of curiosity, is the last paragraph required? (Politically...Article 1.1..) or is it just some extra knowledge which you are giving :D
    – LSSJ Broly
    Commented May 18, 2022 at 18:04
  • So, according to the Hindu scriptures, there is no difference between Bhata and Bharata Varsha. Then, why did the scriptures use two different names? Why did not they just resort to either one of them?
    – user366312
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 15:37
  • Also, present-day India is not 9,000 yojanas (1,35,000 km) from West to East.
    – user366312
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 15:43
  • ... Bharata is roughly present-day India, and Bharatavarsha is the entire Indian subcontinent..... --- this part is unanswered.
    – user366312
    Commented May 21, 2022 at 17:09
  • Yes, as per my opinion, Bharavarsha is roughly the entire Indian subcontinent see this, and also refer this QnA. My Opinion is give or take a few present day countries, that is what constitutes the Bharatavarsha. I hope this clarifies all your questions. @user366312
    – Vivikta
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 1:54

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