According to Mahabharata popular story which is mentioned in Adi Parva of Mahabharata. King bharata was the ancestor of Kauravas and Pandavas. He was son of King Dushyanta and Queen Sakuntala. Also, a descendant of Kshatriya Varna. Bharata has conquered all Greater India, united in a single political entity which was names after him as “Bharatvarsha”.
Story About King Dushyanta and Queen Shakuntala:
As per Mabharata, Shakuntala was a beautiful maiden adopted by sages Kanva rishi. She lived in forest along with him so, she had affection towards animals. One day, King Dushyanta came in forest for hunting a deer. He saw deer and shot an arrow at it. Shakuntala found deer whining in pain and tried to comfort it. She loved animals and her affection towards animal touched Dushyanta’s heart and he asked her to forgive him for his cruelty. She forgave him but asked him to stay in the forest to look after the wounded deer. They fell in love and King Dushyanta married Shakuntala and gave her a wedding ring with his name engraved on it. After promising he will come back soon, he left for his Kingdom.
One day, sage Durvasa came to Shakuntala’s door and asked repeatedly for water, but Shakuntala was lost in day dreaming about King Dushyanta and paid no attention towards him. He is known for his anger, he cursed Shakuntala that whoever you are thinking about , would not forget you. She was frightened and begged the sage to forgive her. The sage said that he could not take the curse back, but he can lessen the impact and said that if she showed Dushyanta something that he had given her then he will remember again about her.
Few days later, she was waiting for King Dushyanta but as per sage curse he did not remember about her. Hence, she decided to go to his palace to meet him. On the way, while she was crossing a river, she lost the ring which was given to her by King Dushyanta. A fish swallowed the ring. When Shakuntala arrived at palace, the King did not recognise her so, he asked her to prove identity but Shakuntala did not have the ring to show him, as it was lost. She tried to remind him, the time they had spent together in the forest, but he could not remember anything. She left the palace with feeling sad and heartbroken.
Ashamed to return to her father’s home, she started living along in another part of the forest where she gave birth to a son. Initially, his name was “Sarvadaman” as given by sage Kanva. He was very brave boy. He grew up with among all animals of the forest. He would play with wild animals.
One day, a fisherman coincidentally caught the same fish which had swallowed the ring. His wife wanted to make curry out of it while cutting up the fish she found the ring and took it to the king. As he saw the ring, the curse was broken, and he immediately remembered Shakuntala. He was very upset and suddenly, he went toward forest to find her, but he could not find her. He returned to his palace.
ew years later, the king again went for hunting in the forest. There he was surprised to find brave boy; he was playing with a lion cub. The boy fearlessly held open the mouth of the cub and said “O king of the forest! Open your mouth wide, so I can count your teeth.” The king asked boy about his parents. He said my father is Dushyanta and mother is Shakuntala. Dushyanta was very happy and asked him to return to his mother. The family united and Dushyanta took Shakuntala along with Sarvadaman to Hastinapur. He became the king and conquered whole India and reunited in a single political entity. After, he was called Bharata as he belongs to Bharata dynasty and on his name came word “Bharatvarsha.”
There is another story which was mentioned in 7th Mandal of Rigveda. It said that it happened even before Ramayana and Mahabharata. Rigveda it was called Vedic period which is further divided in early (1500-1000BCE and later Vedic age (1000-600BCE). The story narrates details about the Battle of ten kings (Dasraja). There was a clan base society, which was earlier called Aryavrata. When Indo-Aryan advent, they settled near Indus River. In the Aryavrat region, there were important Jana emerged, which is called Panchjana. As per Below.
Puru (Central and Eastern)
Turvasa (Center and Southern)
Yadu (South East and South)
There was King Sudas who belonged to the Tristu (Bharata) clans and there was King Purukutsa who belonged to the Puru (Bharata). Sage Vishwamitra was in the court of King Sudas but later due to misunderstanding between king Sudas and Sage Vishwamitra , Sudas sacks Vishwamitra and sage Vasishtha was recruited, so rivalry started between Vishwamitra and Vasishtha. This was one reason for battle of 10 kings. Moreover, there another was that King Sudas’s grandfather destroyed 99 of Bhaharata cities. So, rest of all clan came together and made confederacy and fought against Sudas. The most worshipped god Indra was in favor of king Sudas. Both of faction met at the banks of Parushini (Ravi) river. Bharata (Sudas) had 10,000 armies and Puru and other tribes had 66,000 armies , inspite ogf this Bharata king was victorious because of Indra. After, this battle Bharat name emerged. Later, vasishtha tried to make peace between the two Kings, Bharata and Puru which later emerged as Kurus clan.
उत्तरं यत्समुद्रस्य हिमाद्रेश्चैव दक्षिणम् ।
वर्षं तद् भारतं नाम भारती यत्र संततिः ।।
“The country (varṣam) that lies north of the ocean and south of the snowy mountains is called Bhāratam; there dwell the descendants of Bharata.”
There was also a mention about Jambudwip that means “One of the seven continents (dvīpa) of Bhūrloka (earth). —In the midst of all dvīpas there is Jambūdvīpa. It is situated in the middle of the other dvīpas having, three dvīpas on each side. It consists of a big tree named Jambū and the river and the mountain of the same name and hence it is said to be Jambūdvīpa. The Jambūdvīpa is encircled by the salt ocean, Lavaṇa-samudra.”