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The word "Punjab" is made up of two Persian words 'Panj' and 'Aab', Panj means five and Aab means water. This name was probably given to this land of five rivers possibly in an era when this region came into close contact with Persia. Prior to that period this region was known by different names at different times. Probably, when at the height of its glory it was known as Sapta Sindhu, the land of the 'seven rivers, namely Sindhu (Indus), Vitasta (Jhelum), Asuhi (Chenab), Purushin (Ravi), Vipasa (Beas), Satadru (Sutlej) and Saruri (Sarasvati). 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 religous 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 Dehli) 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 Dehli 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 Punjab in 1947. Today, on the world map Punjab can be seen as divided into the Indian state of Punjab and the Pakistani province of Punjab.

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