Hindustan ( pronunciation (help·info)) is the Persian name for India, broadly the Indian subcontinent, which later became an endonym. After the Partition of India, it continues to be used as a name for the Republic of India.
Hindustan is derived from the Persian word Hindū cognate with the Sanskrit Sindhu. The Proto-Iranian sound change *s > h occurred between 850–600 BCE, according to Asko Parpola. Hence, the Rigvedic sapta sindhava (the land of seven rivers) became hapta hindu in the Avesta. It was said to be the "fifteenth domain" created by Ahura Mazda, apparently a land of 'abnormal heat'. In 515 BCE, Darius I annexed the Indus valley including Sindhu, the present day Sindh, which was called Hindu in Persian. During the time of Xerxes, the term "Hindu" was also applied to the lands to the east of Indus.
In middle Persian, probably from the first century CE, the suffix -stān was added, indicative of a country or region, forming the present word Hindūstān. Thus, Sindh was referred to as Hindūstān in the Naqsh-e-Rustam inscription of Shapur I in c. 262 CE.
Scholar Bratindra Nath Mukherjee states that from the lower Indus basin, the term Hindūstān got gradually extended to "more or less the whole of the subcontinent". The Greco-Roman name "India" and the Chinese name Shen-tu also followed a similar evolution.
"Hindustan" is often used to refer to the modern day Republic of India. Slogans involving the term are commonly heard at sports events and other public programmes involving teams or entities representing the modern nation state. In marketing, it is also commonly used as an indicator of national origin in advertising campaigns and is present in many company names. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, and his party the Muslim League, insisted on calling the modern day Republic of India as 'Hindustan' to signify its Hindu majority population.
In one usage among Hindustani speakers in India, the term 'Hindustani' refers to an Indian, irrespective of religious affiliation. Among non-Hindustani speakers e.g. Bengali-speakers, "Hindustani" is sometimes used to describe persons who are from the upper Ganges, also regardless of religious affiliation, but rather as a geographic term.
Hindustani is sometimes used as an ethnic term applied to South Asia (e.g., a Mauritian or Surinamese man with roots in South Asia might describe his ethnicity by saying he is Hindustani). For example, Hindoestanen is a Dutch word used to describe people of South Asian origin, in the Netherlands and Suriname.
Hindustani is also used to refer to the Hindustani language (not to be confused with Hindi, which is a register of Hindustani alongside Urdu, another register of the same language), which derives from the Khariboli dialect under the Delhi Sultanate of present-day Western Uttar Pradesh, Southern Uttarakhand and Delhi areas.
Early Persian scholars had limited knowledge of the extent of India. After the advent of Islam and the Muslim conquests, the meaning of Hindustan interacted with its Arabic variant Hind and almost became synonymous with it. The Arabs, enagaing in oceanic trade, included all the lands from Tis in western Balochistan (near modern Chabahar) to the Indonesian archipelago, in their idea of Hind, especially when used in its expansive form as "Al-Hind". Hindustan did not acquire this elaborate meaning. It also did not acquire the distinction between Sind (roughly modern Pakistan) and Hind (the lands to the east of it). The 10th century text Hudud al-Alam defined Hindustan as roughly the Indian subcontinent, with its western limit formed by the river Indus, southern limit going up to the Great Sea and the eastern limit at Kamarupa, the present day Assam. For the next ten centuries, both Hind and Hindustan were used within the subcontinent with exactly this meaning, along with their adjectives Hindawi and Hindustani.
With the Turko-Persian conquests starting in the 11th century, a narrower meaning of Hindustan also took shape. The conqueres were liable to call the lands under their control as "Hindustan" ignoring the rest of the subcontinent. In the early 11th century a satellite state of the Ghaznavids in the Punjab with its capital at Lahore was called "Hindustan". After the Delhi Sultanate was established, north India, especially the Gangetic plains, came to be called "Hindustan". Scholar Bratindra Nath Mukherjee states that this narrow menaing of Hindustan existed side by side with the wider meaning, and some of the authors used both of them simultaneously.
The Mughal Empire (1526–1857) called its lands 'Hindustan'. The term 'Mughal' itself was never used to refer to the land. As the empire expanded, so too did 'Hindustan'. At the same time, the meaning of 'Hindustan' as the entire Indian subcontinent is also found in Baburnama and Ain-i-Akbari.
The last Gorkhali King Prithvi Narayan Shah self proclaimed the newly unified Kingdom of Nepal as Asal Hindustan (Real Hindustan) due to North India being ruled by the Islamic Mughal rulers. The self proclamation was done to enforce Hindu social code Dharmashastra over his reign and refer his country inhabitable for Hindus. He also referred Northern India as Mughlan (Country of Mughals) and called the region infiltrated by Muslim foreigners.
These dual meanings persisted with the arrival of Europeans. Rennel produced an atlas titled the Memoir of a Map of Hindoostan or the Mogul Empire in 1792, which was in fact a map of the Indian subcontinent. Rennel thus conflated the three notions, 'India', 'Hindustan' and the Mughal Empire. J. Bernoulli, to whom Hindustan meant the Mughal Empire, called his French translation Lar Carte generale de l'Inde (General Map of India). This 'Hindustan' of the British was divided into British-ruled territories (sometimes referred to as 'India') and the territories ruled by native rulers. The British officials and writers, however, thought that the Indians used 'Hindustan' to refer to only North India. An Anglo-Indian Dictionary published in 1886 states that, while Hindustan means India, in the "nativa parlance" it had come to represent the region north of Narmada River excluding Bihar and Bengal.
Sare jahāṃ se acchā Hindustāṃ hamārā
(the best of all lands is our Hindustan)
was a popular patriotic song among independence activists.
The 1940 Lahore Resolution of the All-India Muslim League demanded sovereignty for the Muslim-majority areas in the northwest and northeast of India, which came to be called 'Pakistan' in popular parlance and the remaining India came to be called 'Hindustan'. The British officials too picked up the two terms and started using them officially.
However, this naming did not meet the approval of Indian leaders due to the implied meaning of 'Hindustan' as the land of Hindus. They insisted that the new Dominion of India should be called 'India', not 'Hindustan'. Probably for the same reason, the name 'Hindustan' did not receive official sanction of the Constituent Assembly of India, whereas 'Bharat' was adopted as an official name. It was recognised however that 'Hindustan' would continue to be used unofficially.
At partition, the Muslim League tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the British that the two independent countries should be called Hindustan and Pakistan but neither the British nor the Congress gave in to this demand. It is important to note that Jinnah and the majority of the Pakistani policy-makers have often referred to independent India as "Hindustan," as an affirmation of the two nation theory.