Pilgrim Nation: The Making of Bharatvarsh by Devdutt Pattanaik is a delightful read.
Pilgrim Nation: The Making of Bharatvarsh by Devdutt Pattanaik is a delightful read, it is published by Aleph Book Company.
About The Book:
Bharatvarsh, pronounced Bhāratvarsh, means ‘land of Bharat’. Bharat was one of the oldest rulers of Jambudvipa. As per Jain mythology, he was the son of Rishabha. After conquering the continent, he wanted to carve his name on the slopes of Mount Meru, located in the center of the land, to declare his monumental feat. But when he reached the summit, he saw that the slopes were carved with the names of hundreds of kings, each one of whom believed that they were the first conquerors of Jambudvipa, until they reached the summit of Meru and saw the names of earlier conquerors. This story captures the timeless (Sanatan) idea of the Indian ethos: we exist in a canvas of infinity. Nothing is unique, or new. Everything has happened before. Everything will happen again. We just forget until the sages bring back the memory.
As per historians, Aryans referred to this land as Sindhusthala or the land of rivers. It was where multiple river-valley cultures emerged, first in Punjab along the tributaries of the Indus, and later in the basins of the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Mahanadi, Narmada, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri. In Vedic texts, each of these river basins is associated with sages such as Vyasa, Dirghatama, Bhrigu, Angira, Agastya, Atri, and many others, probably the mythical Sapta Rishi, or Seven Sages, who spread the Vedic way of life across the subcontinent. The sages were enablers of chieftains, or rajas, who went on to become kings or chakravartin. The Bharat clan were the chieftains who enabled the organization of the Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu scripture, over 3,000 years ago, in the land we now know as Kurukshetra, north of Delhi. In the Mahabharata, Bharat is the name of a king raised in the forest, who played with the lions.
In the Ramayana, Bharat is the name of a prince who refuses to accept a kingdom that his mother secures through cunning. In the Bhagavata Purana, Bharat is the name of a sage who understood the nature of reality, having lived his previous life as a deer, because in a life before that he had become too attached to a fawn.
Bharat is also the name of the sage who, inspired by Shiva’s dance, composed the Natya Shastra, comprising the Indian approach to the performing arts where the mind is expanded by stimulating the senses, churning the mind and stirring the emotions. Could it be that Bharatvarsh was named not just after Bharat, the king, but also after Bharat, the artist-sage? We can only speculate.
Before nationalists and patriots, before colonizers and invaders, before emperors and kings, India was woven together by pilgrim paths. Seekers and sages traveled north and south, east and west, across mountains and along rivers, ignoring artificial boundaries, seeking and finding gods. Renowned mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik takes us on an insightful journey to thirty-two holy sites where ancient and modern deities unravel the complex and layered history, geography, and imagination of the land once known as ‘land of the Indian blackberry’ (Jambudvipa), ‘land of rivers’ (Sindhusthala in Sanskrit, or Hindustan in Persian), ‘expanse of King Bharata’ (Bharatvarsha, or Bharatkhanda), and even ‘abode of joy’ (Sukhavati to the Chinese).