Concept of Bharatvarsha: Bharat According to Vishnu Puran and Himalayan Mountains

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Concept of Bharatvarsha - Origin & Geographical Features: Introduction to History
Concept of Bharatvarsha

Concept of Bharatvarsha

  • Origin
  • Bharatvarsha to India
  • Bharatavarsha and Its Geographical Feature

Bharat According to Vishnu Puran

  • Is the country that lies north of the ocean and South of the snowy mountains ″ .
  • Present India
  • In traditional and legendary Hindu literature, India is called Bharatakhanda.
  • Bharatvarsha was said to form of lager unit called Jambhudvipa that was considered to be one of the seven concentric legendary islands comparing
  • The present name ‘India is derived from’ Sindhu ″ (the Indus) , the great river in the North- West. The early Aryan settlers in India were amazed at the sight of the huge river and called it ‘Sindhu’ meaning a huge sheet of water.
  • In 515 B. C. , the Persian Emperor Darius conquered the area around the river and made it a satrapy of his empire.
  • Since then the foreigners have referred to the entire country from Himalayas to Kanyakumari as India. The Muslim invaders called the country Hindustan.
  • The British ruler called the country India. The same name was retained after the partition of the country into India and Pakistan.

Bharatvarsha and Its Geographical Feature

The concept of Bharatavarsha is an age-old one. It is not only associated with the name of the soil but also mingles within itself the culture, geography and history of the region. This sub-continent called India, stretching from the Himalayas to Cape Comorin and from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, is known as Bharatavarsha or the Land of Bharata. In the shape of a three-cornered peninsula, the sub-continent is bounded in the north by the lofty Himalayas running a length of 2414 kms. The eastern, western and southern sides are flanked by open seas.

Bharatvarsha and Its Geographical Feature

Ancient Indian Sanskrit and Pali literature divides the country into five zones

  1. The North (Udichya)
  2. 2. The Centre (Madhya or Majjhimadesa)
  3. 3. The East (Prachya)
  4. 4. The West (Pratichya)
  5. 5. The South (Dakshinapatha)

But these physical references in ancient literature were replaced by a more systematic approach to India՚s geographical divisions in later periods. Primarily India is divided into four major geographical units.

They are:

  1. The Great Himalayan mountain range
  2. The Indo-Gangetic Brahmaputra plains
  3. The Central and Deccan plateau
  4. The Coastal regions
  5. The Indian subcontinent has three main reasons: Himalaya Mountains, southern peninsula and Indo - Gangetic plains.
  6. Regional differences and related separate identities greatly fostered by geography, have stood in the way of the rise of durable pan Indian states in Indian history.
  7. Never was the whole subcontinent a single political unit.
  8. The Himalayas in the North and northwest and the Indian ocean in the south create a superficial view of isolation of the country from the subcontinent.
  9. However, the most difficult terrain does not impede the movement of ideas and influences between the people. Cultural influences have been exchanged across the frontiers and there have been maritime contacts with the west, West Asia and South east asia from the earlier times.

Himalayan Mountains

  • The mountains stretch from Pamir in the North West to north east. It has a length of 2560 km and breadth of 240 - 320km.
  • The Himalayas protect Indian subcontinent from cold winds blowing from Siberia to central Asia.
  • The Himalayas also protect against external invasions but the passes Khyber, Gomal, Khurram and Bolan allow easy access.
  • The Greeks, Huns, Parthian՚s, Turks and Sakas entered the subcontinent through these. Alexander came through the Swat valley. These passes allowed trade as well as cultural contacts between India and central Asia.
  • In the east the Himalayas have thick forests and heavy rains and thus many regions of the Himalayas are isolated from rest.

Himalyas as a Natural Barrier

  • Cold Siberian winds
  • Mountains (Divisions of India)
  • Provide safety from Invaders
  • Safe santuries for various cultures.

Indo Gangetic Plains

  • It is a very fertile region irrigated by Ganga, Yamuna and Brahmaputra. Thar Desert and Aravalli hills are located between Ganga and Indus plains. Area between two rivers is called “doab” .
  • Many urban centers are located at the confluence of rivers and riverbanks. Most important urban center is Delhi on the western side of Gangetic plain.
  • The plain is a source of temptation and attraction to foreign invaders due to its fertility and productive wealth. Important battles were fought to conquer these plains especially the Ganga Yamuna doab was the most coveted and contested battle.
  • Kurukshetra and Panipat were most common battles grounds. The rivers in these regions are arteries of commerce and communication.

The Southern Peninsula

  • The Vindhya and Satpuda mountain ranges along with Narmada and Tapti rivers form the dividing line. The plateau to the south of it is Deccan plateau which is of volcanic rock. As the rocks are easier to cut many rock cut temples and monasteries are found here.
  • The Deccan plateau is flanked by Eastern and Western Ghats.
  • The Coromandel Coast is located between Eastern Ghats and Bay of Bengal. The Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats meet at Nilgiri hills.
  • The Deccan plateau is bridge between north and south but due to the dense forests in the Vindhyas the culture and language is well preserved due to geographic isolation.
  • In the south, Palghat pass from Kaveri valley to Malabar Coast was famous for Indo - Roman trade. The Eastern Ghats are low and cut in places due to fast flowing rivers. The rivers of the southern peninsula flow from west to east except Narmada and Tapti which flow from east to west. The rivers flow parallel to each other.
  • The Krishna Tungabhadra doab has been hotly contested by southern kingdoms due to its fertility. Due to the long coastline the south kingdoms developed cultural and commercial relations with Greco - Roman kingdoms.

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