India — its ancient name "Bhaarat" as written in eight of its most widely spoken languages. Derived from the words (in Sanskrit) "Bhr"-Bear or carry and "rata"-the search for, to be engaged in, to love.
Click here for links to more languages spoken by 20 million or more in India — Kannada, Maithili, Malayalam, Nepali, Odia and Sindhi.
English, according to the census, is spoken by 125 million of the people.
- भारत in the Devanagari script is pronounced "Bhaarat" in the official Hindi language — 260 million native speakers. Derived from the original Brahmi script, that was used to write the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit language, with early universities formed at Taxila about 200BC, and Nalanda, and later at Vikramashila. However, minimal written records exist today prior to 1100AD.
- بھارت in Urdu (a Perso-Arabic alphabet) is pronounced "Bhaarat" in the Urdu language — 65 million native speakers in India, 16 million in Pakistan.
The Hindi language was heavily influenced by Urdu, a word derived from the Turkic word "Ordu" meaning a "Horde or Army". During the 16th century, the Turko-Mongol conqueror Babur brought most of northern India under the rule of his Mughal (Mongol) Army who learned to speak the local language. When the Persian Emperor Shah Jahan built a new walled city in Delhi in 1639, the market close to the royal army fort was called Urdu Bazar. About 1800 the British shortened it to Urdu. Both Hindi and Urdu were referred to by the British as two dialects in the one language, an old Persian word "Hindustani". They were mutually intelligible except Urdu was written in the Perso-Arabic script, becoming an official language of Pakistan. However, to further complicate matters, the third language, Punjabi is the one most frequently spoken in Pakistan today.
- ਭਾਰਤ in the Punjabi language — 122 million native speakers, about 30 million in India, over 90 million in Pakistan — having two scripts. India uses the Gurmukhi script designed by early Sikh gurus. Its chief centre is the Golden Temple in Amritsar, completed in 1577.
In Pakistan where a Perso-Arabic alphabet is employed by Muslims, it uses the Shahmukhi script that dates back to 500AD. The script differs from the Urdu alphabet by having four additional letters.
- ભારત in the Gujarati language and script is pronounced "Bhaarat" by the Gujarat people — 49 million native speakers — in western India, and was specifically spoken by Mahatma Ghandi, though he also spoke Hindi and English as well.
- ভারত in the Bengali language and script — 300 million native speakers — is pronounced "Bhaarat" in Bangladesh.
- భారత్ in the Telugu language and script — 74 million native speakers — is pronounced "Bhaarat" in South-east India.
- In the Marathi language — 73 million native speakers — used in Maharashtra in western India, it employs the Devanagari script (see number 1 above).
- இந்தியா in the Tamil language and script — 70 million native speakers — is pronounced "India" in southern India.