Hindustan or Indostan, literal translation "Land of River Sindhu (Indus)", is one of the popular names of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. It can also mean "the land of the Hindus". Though the meaning of Hindustan has evolved over the years, after the partition of India
Partition of India
The Partition of India was the partition of British India on the basis of religious demographics that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India on 14 and 15...

 it primarily refers to the Republic of India.


Hindustan is derived from the Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 word Hindu, which is itself is derived from Sindhu, the original Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 name of the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

. Sindhu is a river in Sanskrit. This together with a popular suffix -stān
The suffix -stan is Persian for "place of", a cognate to Pashto -tun and to Indo-Aryan -sthāna , a Sanskrit suffix with a similar meaning...

(from Persian "stan" meaning "place") In modern Persian, either Hind or Hindustan may be used to refer to India. Hindi or Hindu means idol or ideal in Persian, in a sense Hindustan means an ideal land with tropical climate and rich in natural resources which was the main reason for attracting transmigration from far of places especially from west across Hindukhus. Thus all the people living in Hindustan are called Hindustani irrespective of any religious affiliations. A similar term, Indostan, was in common use during the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to denote the countries of South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. Today "Indostan" is regarded as an archaism
In language, an archaism is the use of a form of speech or writing that is no longer current. This can either be done deliberately or as part of a specific jargon or formula...


Geographical areas

Historically, the term "Hindustan" is usually applied to the Ganges Plain of North India, between the Himalayas in the north used to indicate the lands "north of the Vindhya Range
Vindhya Range
The Vindhya Range is a range of older rounded mountains and hills in the west-central Indian subcontinent, which geographically separates the Indian subcontinent into northern India and Southern India.- Introduction :...

" as well.
During the Turkic-Afghan transmigration of 11th-13th centuries, Muslims started to call Northern part of sub-continent as 'Hindustan', there they encountered some section of people who worship idol deities, hence were respectfully named as 'Hindus' and their religion as Hinduism.

In the Baarhaspatyua Samhita it says:
Himalyam Samarabhya
Tam Deonirmitam Desham
Hindusthanam Prachakshate

Meaning: "The country which starts from Himalayas and the borders of which reach till the Indian Ocean (Indu Sarovaram), has been created by Gods and its name is Hindusthan."

Further, it may relate to various aspects belonging to three geographical
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 areas: the modern Republic of India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 during medieval times, or a region in northern India, east and south of the Yamuna
The Yamuna is the largest tributary river of the Ganges in northern India...

 river, between the Vindhya mountains and the Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

 where Hindustani language
Hindustani language
Hindi-Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language and the lingua franca of North India and Pakistan. It is also known as Hindustani , and historically, as Hindavi or Rekhta...

s are spoken.

Hindustani is sometimes also used as an ethnic
Ethnic group
An ethnic group is a group of people whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage, often consisting of a common language, a common culture and/or an ideology that stresses common ancestry or endogamy...

 term applied to South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

. (e.g., a Surinamese man with roots in South Asia might describe his ethnicity by saying he is Hindustani.) For example, Hindoestanen
The Hindoestanen are an ethnic group of South Asian origin in the Netherlands and Suriname. After the Dutch government signed a treaty with the United Kingdom on the recruitment of contract workers, the Hindoestanen began migrating to Suriname in 1873 from what was then British India as indentured...

 is a Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...

 word used to describe people of South Asian origin, in Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 and Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

. In Pakistan, the term 'Hindustani' is used for Urdu-speaking people generally and specifically for Karachi and Hyderabad-Sindh, who migrated from India during the partition of 1947.

Further reading

  • A Sketch of the History of Hindustan from the First Muslim Conquest to the Fall of the Mughal Empire by H. G. Keene. (Hindustan The English Historical Review, Vol. 2, No. 5 (Jan., 1887), pp. 180-181.)
  • STORY OF INDIA THROUGH THE AGES; An Entertaining History of Hindustan, to the Suppression of the Mutiny, by Flora Annie Steel, 1909 E.P. Dutton and Co., New York. (as recommended by the New York Times; Flora Annie Steel Book Review, February 20, 1909, New York Times.)
  • The History of Hindustan: Post Classical and Modern, Ed. B.S. Danniya and Alexander Dow. 2003, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 8120819934. (History of Hindustan (First published: 1770-1772). Dow had succeeded his father as the private secretary of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb
    Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Alamgir , more commonly known as Aurangzeb or by his chosen imperial title Alamgir , was the sixth Mughal Emperor of India, whose reign lasted from 1658 until his death in 1707.Badshah Aurangzeb, having ruled most of the Indian subcontinent for nearly...

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