Vishnu Puran being one of the oldest and most authentic puranas has a great description of Bharatvarsa although many details need researches to be understood.

Let’s see how Vishnu Puran describes Bharat.

  • Extent – 

THE country that lies north of the ocean, and south of the snowy mountains, is called Bhārata, for there dwelt the descendants of Bharat. It is nine thousand leagues in extent, and is the land of works, in consequence of which men go to heaven, or obtain emancipation.

India lies north of the ocean (Indian Ocean) and south of snowy mountains (Himalayas).

  • Heaven, Hell, liberation from existence etc are obtained from this land.

From this region heaven is obtained, or even, in some cases, liberation from existence; or men pass from hence into the condition of brutes, or fall into hell. Heaven, emancipation, a state in mid-air, or in the subterraneous realms, succeeds to existence here, and the world of acts is not the title of any other portion of the universe.

  • Mountains :

The seven main chains of mountains in Bhārata are Mahendra, Malaya, Sahya, Suktimat, Riksa, Vindhya, and Paripatra.

The mountains are – Mahendra ( Chain of hills extending from Odisha), Malaya (Southern portion of Western Ghats), Sahya ( Northern parts of Western Ghats), Suktimat, Riksa ( Mountains of Gondwana), Vindhya ( Chain of mountains across Central India), Paripatra ( Northern and western parts of Vindhya or mountains of Gujarat).

  • Parts :

The Varsa of Bhārata is divided into nine portions, which I will name to you; they are Indra-dvipa, Kaserumat, Tamravarna, Gabhastimat, Naga-dvipa, Saumya, Gandharva, and Varuna; the last or ninth Dvīpa is surrounded by the ocean, and is a thousand Yojanas from north to south.

  • People dwelling in it :

On the east of Bhārata dwell the Kiratas(the barbarians); on the west, the Yavanas; in the centre reside Brahmans, Kṣetriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, occupied in their respective duties of sacrifice, arms, trade, and service.

Kiratas here may refer to the kingdoms and people in the north-east. Bhagdatta in Mahabharta has been referred as king of kiratas.

Yavanas are doubtable. They can be either people of lands of today’s Afghanistan or maybe people of far than that. Yavanas were actually part of Bharat. They are often co related with mlecchas.

  • Rivers :

The Satadru, Candrabhaga, and other rivers, flow from the foot of Himalaya: the Vedasmriti and others from the Parīpātra mountains: the Narmada and Surasa from the Vindhya hills: the Tapi, Payosni, and Nirvindhya from the Rikṣa mountains; the Godāverī, Bhimarathī, Kṛṣṇavenī, and others, from the Sahya mountains: the Kritamālā, Tamrapani, and others, from the Malaya hills: the Trisama, Rsikulya, &c. from the Mahendra: and the Ṛṣikulyā, Kumari, and others, from the Śuktimat mountains. Of such as these, and of minor rivers, there is an infinite number; and many nations inhabit the countries on their borders.

  • Kingdoms ( Of that time, obviously) :

The principal nations of Bhārata are the Kurus and Pancalas, in the middle districts: the people of Kāmarupa, in the east: the Pundras, Kalingas, Magadhas, and southern nations, are in the south: in the extreme west are the Saurastras, Suras, Bhīras, Arbudas: the Kāruṣas and Malavas, dwelling along the Pāripātra mountains: the Sauviras, the Saindhavas, the Hunas, the Salvas, the people of Sakala, the Madras, the Ramas, the Ambasthas, and the Parasikas, and others. These nations drink of the water of the rivers above enumerated, and inhabit their borders, happy and prosperous.

About the kingdoms this is what the footnote says –

Kāmarupa is the north-eastern part of Bengal, and western portion of Asam.

Puṇḍra is Bengal proper, with part of south Behar and the Jungle Mahals.

Kaliṅga is the sea-coast west of the mouths of the Ganges, with the upper part of the Coromandel coast.

Magadhā is Behar.

The Saurāṣṭras are the people of Surat, the Surastrene of Ptolemy.

The Śūras and Bhīras, in the same direction, may be the Suri and Phauni or Phryni of Strabo.

The Arbudas must be the people about mount Abu, or the natives of Mewar.

The Kāruṣas and Mālavas are of course the people of Malwa.

The Sauvīras and Saindhavas are usually conjoined as the Sindhu-Sauvīras, and must be the nations of Sindh and western Rajputāna.

By the Minas we are to understand the white Huns or Indo-Scythians, who were established in the Puñjab and along the Indus at the commencement of our era, as we know from Arrian, Strabo, and Ptolemy, confirmed by recent discoveries of their coins,

The Śālvas or, as also read, Śālyas are placed by the Vāyu and Matsya amongst the central nations, and seem to have occupied part of Rājasthan, a Śālva Rāja being elsewhere described as engaging in hostilities with the people of Dwarakā in Guzerat.

Śākala, as I have elsewhere noticed, is a city in the Puñjab (As. Res. XV. 108), the Sagala of Ptolemy (ibid. 107); the Mahābhārata makes it the capital of the Madras, the Mardi of the ancients; but they are separately named in the text, and were situated something more to the south-east.

The Rāmas and Ambaṣṭhas are not named in the other Purāṇas, but the latter are amongst the western, or more properly north-western nations subjugated by Nakula, in his Dig-vijaya. Mahābh. Sabhā P.

Ambas and Ambaṣṭhas are included in the list extracted by Col. Wilford from the Varāha Sanhitā, and the latter are supposed by him to be the Ambastæ of Arrian.

The Pārasīkas carry us into Persia, or that part of it adjoining to the Indus.

  • The Yuga succesion, rigorous penances etc take place in this land.

In the Bhārata-varṣa it is that the succession of four Yugas, or ages, the Krita, the Treta, the Dvapara, and Kali, takes place; that pious ascetics engage in rigorous penance; that devout men offer sacrifices; and that gifts are distributed; all for the sake of another world.

  • Bharat is the best of all lands.

Bhārata is therefore the best of the divisions of Jambu-dvīpa, because it is the land of works: the others are places of enjoyment alone.

  • Only after thousand births and much merits, people are born in this land. The Devas themselves praise its glory.

It is only after many thousand births, and the aggregation of much merit, that living beings are sometimes born in Bhārata as men. The gods themselves exclaim, “Happy are those who are born, even from the condition of gods, as men in Bhārata-varṣa, as that is the way to the pleasures of Paradise, or the greater blessing of final liberation.

  • People from this land worship Bhagawan Vishnu. And those are fortunate who are born in this land ( Indeed we are).

Happy are they who, consigning all the unheeded rewards of their acts to the supreme and eternal Viṣṇu, obtain existence in that land of works, as their path to him. We know not, when the acts that have obtained us heaven shall have been fully recompensed, where we shall renew corporeal confinement; but we know that those men are fortunate who are born with perfect faculties in Bhārata-varṣa.”

Source : Vishnu Puran Book 2 Chapter III – Description of Bharath-Varsha.

Thus the Vishnu Puran praises Bharath Varsha. It also explains why avatars of Bhagawan Vishnu takes place in Bharat (Indian Subcontinet in today’s perspective) only.

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