Bharatas were a tribe mentioned in the Rigveda, especially in Mandala 3 attributed to the Bharata sage Vishvamitra. Scholars believe the Bharatas to be a Vedic tribe around river Ravi in modern Punjab in the second millennium B.C.E. Bharatá is also used as a name of Agni (literally, "to be maintained", viz. the fire having to be kept alive by the care of men), .36.8.
Mandala 7 (7.18 etc.) mentions the Bharatas as taking part in the Battle of the Ten Kings, where they are on the winning side. Due to the victory of the Bharata chieftain Sudas in this battle, the Bharata rulers were able to settle in the Kurukshetra area. They appear to have been successful in the early power-struggles between the various Vedic tribes.
In the epic Mahābhārata, the ancestor of Kurus becomes Emperor Bharata, and his ruler and kingdom is called Bhārata. The Bharata clan mentioned in Mahabharata is a Kuru clan which is a sub clan of the Puru clan who were the cousins of the Yadavas. "Bhārata" today is an official name of the Republic of India.
Many people believe that the name Bharata Bhumi which was given to India was given after the Dushyanti Bharatas (Bharat, son of Dushyant and Shakuntala, from Mahabharat). However, India has been named Bharata Bhumi after the Bharatas of the Rig Veda and not after the Dushyanti Bharatas.This is made clear by the following stanzas from the Bhagavata Purana:
Priyamvadho nama sutho manoh swayambhuvasya ha !
Thasyagnigrasthatho nabhitrishbhashcha suthasthathah !!
Avatheerana puthrashatham thasyasidrahaychaparagham !
Vikyatham varshamethaghyannaamnaa bharathamuthapram !!
(Manu, the son of Svayambhu, had a son named Priyamvada; his son was Agnidhra: his son was Nabhi: he had a son Rishabha. He had a hundred sons born to him, all learned in the Veda; of them, Bharata was the eldest, devoted to Narayana, by whose name this excellent land is known as Bharata.)
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