विचारविमर्शादयः

‘Forum’ is defined in dictionary as:

  1. Public place
  2. Market place
  3. A place of or meeting for public discussion
  4. A periodical etc giving an opportunity for discussion
  5. A court or tribunal
  6. A public square or a market place in an ancient roman city (in this sense, Latin)

Forum of Ancient Romans
Online forums are basically discussion forums, which relate to meaning 1, 3, 4 and to some extent, first half of 6. Rather, online forums are much more effective in bringing up good discussion as well as maintaining them, at the same time sidelining the unimportant issues from the point of view of the participant public. Thus, while searching for the Sanskrit counterpart of the ‘forum’, this aspect of discussion must be considered. For quite a long time I was at my wits ends about this ‘forum’. The most obvious choice would of course be चर्चास्थानम्, but, oh, how very unaesthetic that sounds!! I prefer to see new words with a beauty and identity of their own, with an aura of their own personality (oh yes, I believe words have their own personality). The word चर्चास्थानम् is too simple and obvious to be perfect and, more importantly, presentable. 

I tried all sorts of grammatical tricks I knew (and I know a negligible amount) on the words चर्चा (noun) and चर्च् (verb), trying to avoid the word स्थानम्. Alas, with zero knowledge of व्याकरणम्, engaging in such exercises is indeed laughable. Well, I left the topic after a number of futile attempts.

Then today while going through the dictionary, I stumbled upon a few words like विचार, विमर्श, मन्त्रणा etc. Not that I hadn’t heard these words earlier, but today they triggered a new thought process. After all, I was desperately searching for an alternative to चर्चा. So I looked up all those words in the V. S. Apte Sanskrit – Hindi dictionary. Amongst them, विमर्श fits better than others. Thus, that which I could not do with चर्चा, I found easier to do with विमर्श, that is, to twist the word in as many shapes. 

So I toyed with वैमर्शिनी, वैमर्शा, विमर्शिका, विमर्शालयः, विमर्शशाला. The word should mean ‘a place for discussion’ that is ‘विमर्शः यत्र भवति तत्’. But the tragedy is, I cannot decide what should be the correct form. Even I thought of the words वैचारिणी or विचारङ्करी. But wouldn’t विचारङ्करी mean ‘he who thinks’? May be विचारङ्कारी comes closer. But it sounds so crude. And then विचार is not as perfect as विमर्श. And if we have to think of विमर्शङ्कारी, then I would prefer वैमर्शा. 

We also have the word गोष्ठी, but then a गोष्ठी has some agenda or a predecided topic which is discussed. I think the word जालगोष्ठी may be used when the forums are highly topic centric, and do not cover a wider and vague range but a limited yet specialized horizon for discussion. 

There also is the word मन्त्रणा which can be conformed as मान्त्रणिकम्, मन्त्रणाकक्षः, or even a place where मन्त्रणा takes place is a सभा. But मन्त्रणा essentially has a sense of advice, which hampers its appeal as a substitute to चर्चा. In चर्चा there can be advice, but advice in चर्चा is an aspect of the whole चर्चा, whereas it is the major and defining element in मन्त्रणा. And the word मन्त्रणा is so much related with kings and ministers and courts that the Sanskrit word for minister, मन्त्री, is a close relative of मन्त्रणा. So we better leave the word to royal patronage. 

The word चिन्तनिका also seems ok, but it has a seriousness around it. A forum may be there for just fun, jokes, timepass. Discussions also happen on such a forum, but it would not fit to call the forum ‘चिन्तनिका. So the chintan goes down. जल्पनिका or anything from जल्प् is out of consideration on the same lines. 

As for now, I have zeroed in on विचारमञ्चः, meaning a platform to express the thoughts. By jumping on a मञ्च, I have sidelined the ‘discussion’, and the मञ्च will highlight meaning number 4, with an increased modified sense of individuality and personal expression. The word, so far, seems ok than others discussed hitherto. But if I am guaranteed the साधुत्व of all the words mentioned above, I will definitely go for वैमर्शा. Until the साधुत्वनिर्णयः is done, I should rather discuss this more on some forum!! 

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