Mushtanda; and Bharat

Vishal Agarwal vishalagarwal at HOTMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 18 02:09:08 UTC 2000

Dr. Zydenbos wrote: No, not in such a crude form. For that matter, India as
a block did not exist either...........

VA responds: The concept of nation state itself is fairly new, so why should
India be held to different standards. Notwithstand its colorful diversity,
the concept of Bharat has existed for at least 15-18 centuries. Else why
would we have dozens of verses like

"In Bharat, the men and women are of various skin colors, engaged in the
worship of various devatas and employed in different professions. Their life
is limited to a 100 years." Kurma Purana 1.45.20
The Kurma Purana is quoted by Sri Sankaracharya (7-8th Cent) in the Sariraka
Bhashya as well as in the Bhashya on the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The
preface of the critical edition (Kashiraj Trust) of the Kurma Purana
suggests that the extant text was established at least by the 9th Cent or

And of course, from the even older Vishnu Purana we have the following
verse: (quoting from memory)
"To the north of which lies the Himadri, and to the south of which is the
ocean--that landmass goes by the name Bharata, and its inhabitants 'bharati
yatra santatih'."

There are 100's of such verses in the Puranas and the Itihasas, and in
comparison, does Europe have anything? Therefore, the remarks of Dr.
Zydenbos are one sided. I refer him to the booklet "The Fundamental Unity of
India" by historian R C Majumdar (Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan) which collects
several such passages


As a native Hindi speaker, let me dilate a little on how we use this word.
It is used to refer to a stout, muscular, robust, athletic or a strong man
(definitely not to a plump person). Since the Zamindars, the politicans etc,
hire such 'musclemen' for their protection, often recruiting the pahelwans
(wrestlers) of the local akharas, the word has acquired negative
connotations and is therefore used to refer to a bully, a lout and so on.
However, the word is used affectionately also (with the negative connotation
in the background). For instance, when I and my cousins were growing up as
young men and played some pranks or did some mischief, our elders sometimes
used he word 'Mushtandey' for us.
BTW, the word 'Mushti' is used in the AVZ for clenched fist as well as for a
strapping, robust man (see all the occurances of this word in the Samhita
with the help of the Hoshiarpur concordance). I also recall a mantra in
which a herb/vegetarian diet is said to be 'mushtihA' ('hit with a fist' or
drive away) with regard to fever. The word 'Mushti' itself is used for
'wrestler' even in Hindi TV serials like the Mahabharata.
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