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When asked to choose a name for his amendment, Kamat chose ‘India or in the English language India shall be a Union of States’. This was followed by a serious debate in which Seth Govind Das, Kamalapati Tripathi, Kallur Subba Rao, Ram Sahay and Har Govind Pant argued with great enthusiasm for ‘Bharat’. Das said that India is not an ancient word and it is not mentioned in the Vedas. India was used after the arrival of the Greeks, while references to India are found in the Vedas, the Upanishads, the Brahmanical texts, the Mahabharata and the Puranas, as well as in the works of the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang.
Das suggested, ‘Bharat, which is called India, is also known by this name abroad.’ He said that this name is not backward, but suitable for the history and culture of India. He said, “If we do not take the right decisions regarding these matters, the people of the country will not understand the importance of self-governance.” Kallur Subba Rao said that the name India comes from Sindhu or Indus and the name Hindustan is more suitable for Pakistan as there is Indus river. Referring to India as Bharat, he asked Seth Govind Das and other Hindi speakers to name the Hindi language after ‘Bharti’, the goddess of education.
Ram Sahay supported the name Bharat. He said that the union of Gwalior, Indore and Malwa calls itself Madhya Bharat and in all our religious texts and all Hindi literature this country is called Bharat. Our leaders also call the country Bharat in their speeches. Then Kamlapati Tripathi gave a passionate speech saying that ‘Bharat, which is India’ could be more appropriate and in line with the sentiments and prestige of the country. He claimed that during its one thousand years of slavery, the country had lost its soul, history, prestige and form and name. He said that Bapu’s revolutionary movement made the nation recognize its true form and lost soul and that it was due to his penance that it was regaining its name.
Tripathi said that the mere utterance of this word paints a picture of a cultured life. Despite centuries of slavery, the belief persisted that the gods remembered the country’s name in heaven and had a strong desire to be born in the holy land of India. He claimed, ‘We are reminded that on the one hand this culture reached the Mediterranean and on the other it touched the shores of the Pacific.’ He said it reminds one of the Rigveda and the Upanishads, the teachings of Krishna and Buddha-Shankaracharya, or the bow of Rama and the discus of Krishna.
As Tripathi spoke about the past, Ambedkar asked, ‘Is all this necessary, sir…? A lot of work remains to be done’. While Ambedkar was in a hurry, the President of the Constituent Assembly, Rajendra Prasad, allowed another intervention by Hargovind Pant. Pant suggested the name Bharatavarsha, which we have been using in our daily religious rituals at the time of Sankalp. Even while taking a bath, we say in Sanskrit, ‘Jambudvipe Bharatkhande Aryavarte Bharatdeshe…’. It means that I am in Aryavarta of Bharat Khand.
Pant said that Kalidas referred to the kingdom of the son of Dushyanta and Shakuntala as Bharat while India was a name given by foreigners who were attracted by its wealth. Clinging to it will only show that we are not ashamed of this derogatory term that foreign rulers have imposed on us. Ultimately the Constituent Assembly voted by show of hands with 38 yes and 51 no and Kamat’s amendment was rejected and the original wording remained.
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