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As is stated in Srimad Bhagavatam, Fifth Canto, 3rd sloka,

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

Unlike common belief, this Bharata is the son of King Rshabhadeva, a partial avatara of Lord Vishnu. But in the Mahabharata, the whole of Bharata race, and by extension, the country, is named after the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala, who was also called by the same name.

So, my question is, what role does Shakuntala's son have in naming India as Bharatavarsha, if it was already named so? And if it was rechristened as "Bharatavarsha" twice, what was the name between the first and second Bharatas?

  • Keshav Srinivasan's answer to Is there any description of Bharatavarsha in Hindu Scriptures? seems to address your question. – sv. Oct 9 '15 at 21:07
  • @sv. Haha, actually my answer is what gave rise to this question in the first place. I had initially written that India was named after Shakuntala's king Bharata, but I had given a Srimad Bhagavatam verse that said India was named after Rishabha's son Bharata. So the question is whether India was again named Bharata after Shakuntala's son Bharata in a later age, or whether Shakuntala's son Bharata had no effect on the naming of India. One thing we know for sure: the lunar dynasty race called the Bharatas, whose story is narrated in the Mahabharata, was named after Shakuntala's son Bharata. – Keshav Srinivasan Oct 10 '15 at 1:58
  • He had no role in it. See this answer. – The Destroyer Feb 14 '16 at 3:40
  • I just found a piece of evidence in a Shaiva Agama known as the Parakhya Tantra: i.imgur.com/INEfElC.jpg "To the south of that is the landmass Bharata, like the landmass Hari. Here the suffering was borne (bhritam) by Bharata because of [his] sons, who followed bad paths" It was Shakuntala's son Bharata who had bad sons (which is why he adopted Bharadwaja), not Rishabha's son Bharata. – Keshav Srinivasan Feb 16 '16 at 17:54
  • @Keshav Daushyanti Bharata didn't have bad sons - he had bad wives who murdered his sons. – Surya Feb 17 '16 at 2:25
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Yes according to the Brahma Purana he does. In the account of the Lunar Dynasty or Chandravansh there comes the story of Yayati after which the text says:

From Puru was descended King Bharata after whom the land came to be known as Bharatavarsha. Also in this line was King Kuru, after whom all the descendants came to be known as Kauravas. The sacred place named Kurukshetra owes its name to King Kuru.

Sharing the snapshot of the portion that talks about what happened after Yayati:

enter image description here

  • That's note a translation of the Brahma Purana, it's just an abridged summary. In my experience abridged summaries of Puranas freely add things that aren't present in the text. – Keshav Srinivasan Dec 21 '17 at 16:38
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Very first time our country was named after King Bharata who was born in Priyvrata's lineage in 1st Manvantara (as described in your question). This is supported by Vishnu Purana and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa). Also if we see the below shloka:

उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् ।

वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।।

The country/khand/region (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains (Himalaya) is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata. - Vishnu Purana

This is for the king Bharata from 1st Manvantara and not for Shakuntala's son Bharata.

Then why it was renamed?

Point of view 1: It was not renamed actually just those verses are said in praise of the Chakravarati king (Shakuntala's son Bharata) who ruled the entire country. It is also believed that King Bharata (younger brother of Rama) also ruled the entire country (for 14 years). Thats what Lord Shri Rama himself says in Kishkindha Kanda, Valmiki Ramayana.

Point of view 2: There is a Deluge (Jal pralaya) believed in the beginning of current (7th) Manvantra, as described here. And in 7th Manvantra, we don't find any other Chakravarti Samrat named Bharat other that two: Lord Shri Rama's brother and Shakuntala's son. So few scriptures say that our country named as Bharata after them.

But if we consider the Kalpa theory which says that complete annihilation happens after each Kalpa and not after Manvantra. In the beginning of 7th Manvantra was partial pralaya, I mean no reference found for the fresh creation as in the beginning of Kalpa. So Earth was there, the region on which Bharata ruled (Bharata Varsha) was also there.

So point of view 1 seems more appropriate.

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