is an Indo-Iranian word meaning "the land of five rivers". Punjab
lies at the cross-roads of the great civilizations of the world. Historically,
the area west of Punjab was under the sphere of influence of the Persians,
the east was the heartland of the Indian civilization, the south under
the influence of the Arabs and the north under the Turko-Mongolian influence.
Many great religious movements which found world-wide appeal grew in the
fertile plains of Punjab. They include Budhism, Sikhism
and many schools of Sufi thought in Islam . This ethnic and religious
diversity is reflected in the cultural mosaic of today's Punjab.
The historical area of Punjab was defined to the east from the basin of
the river Bias (including Delhi) to the basin of River Indus in the west.
To the north it was bounded by the Himalayas of Kashmir and to the south
it stretched as far as the plains of Cholistan and Rajasthan. Over different
periods of history Punjab has seen its boundaries expand and shrink. The
high time for Punjab was during the reign of Mughal emperor Babur (and
also during the time of Ranjit Singh more recently) when Punjab along
with Babur's empire stretched from Delhi in the east to Kabul and Ghazni
to the West. But never in the history, did the boundaries of Punjab shrink
so much as they did after the division of India in 1947.
The tragic incident resulted in the division of
Punjab into two parts as the Indian state of Punjab and the Pakistani
province of Punjab. Indian Punjab was further divided twice for administrative
reasons . Today's Punjab (Indian) is about one-fourth of the Punjab that
existed before partition .