Bharat has now become India. But, has anything else changed or is it just the name that has changed? When we look at today’s dynastic politics, we often remind ourselves of the story of Dhritirashtra who turned out to be a selfish ruler that he handed over his kingdom to his own sons despite they being much inferior to the Pandavas, sons of his brother. Likewise, there are many stories from mythologies and history where kings have routinely handed over the kingdoms to their respective children, irrespective of their abilities.
However, the story of King Bharata, the son of king Dushyant of Hastinapur and queen Shakuntala, is a tad different. King Bharata was a great ruler. He was the ancestor of the Pandvas and the Kauravas of the Indian epic Mahabharata.
When the great King Bharata was looking for handing over his kingdom to a worthy successor, he weighed options of handing it over to one of his nine sons vis-à-vis not handing over to any of them. As a general rule, one would have expected at-least one of the sons to have inherited the kingdom, if not the eldest. However, Bharata deviated from the norm and crowned Bhumanyu, who was not the lineal descendant, as the next emperor. Bhumanyu was the son of sage Bharadwaj and was identified to be a capable successor, by the king himself.
Bharata set an example and stated that the throne goes to the one who is most worthy, and one who has the capability to rule the people in a most just manner. When his ministers and sons asked him, he said I am a ruler first and a father next. He, in his own words, said, ‘Kingdom comes first”.
To the self-serving rulers of India today, the whole country is their family and to them, “the family comes first”! If one happens to ask them as to why they wish to coronate their own children rather than finding the most competent one, they probably would say, “ I am a father first and a ruler next”.
Therefore, it is not just the name that has changed: Everything about Bharat has changed!
It is not as it was!