Once, while composing Ramcharitmanas, the great poet Tulsidasji found himself in a strange quandary. He just could not find words to describe Ram’s beauty… Frustrated, he expressed his dilemma thus:
स्याम गौर किमि कहौं बखानी, गिरा अनयन - नयन बिनु बानी.
How do I describe the dark beauty (of Lord Ram)?
The tongue does not have eyes - the eyes cannot speak.
To most of us, language comes naturally; yet we all have, at some time or the other, been in the same predicament as Tulsidasji. We know what we want to say but just as we reach for the word, it’s not there. And it continues to stay just out of reach, eluding us, tantalizing us.
It is then that we need a THESAURUS. Which literally means a TREASURY. A treasury of words and expressions that help us express our abstract thoughts, ideas and feelings ~ clearly, correctly, completely. Even an extensive dictionary cannot help us here. But a thesaurus can ~ because the thesaurus lists words thematically, as per their theme or concept.
Suppose you are, “Uhhhhh… what’s it called… that tiny Japanese tree, like a dwarf?” Simply looking up the cue words ‘tree’ or ‘dwarf’ or even ‘plant’ will lead you to your target: BONSAI!
If you know the word but it does not express your thought precisely, then a thesaurus gives dozens of synonyms as well as related concepts AND opposite contexts. For instance, the other day when I could not express the concept of ‘no worry,’ I looked up ‘worry’ and came up with ‘worrylessness,’ ‘carefreeness,’ ‘insouciance’ and many others!
THE IDEA IS IN OUR MIND. THE THESAURUS PROVIDES THE WORD.