In Mahabharata:

Why was Bheesma Brother name was "Vichitraveerya" which direct means was strange semen. as ancient time name reflect the character in fact.

So was his semen strange?

  • 1
    [just a note] even name of "Duryodhan" is of meaning like "Bad character".
    – Mr_Green
    Sep 20, 2014 at 6:53
  • 2
    Vichitraveerya could have been his famous name as well (just a guess). But there was indeed a problem with his potency. Before catching up with TB, he lived for quite a few years with his 2 wives, yet couldn't have any children. @Mr_Green, our Sanskrit teacher taught that, the real name was "Suyodhana" which means a "good warrior". But "Duryodhana" didn't mean "bad warrior". It meant "tough in war". Sanskrit works strange sometimes!
    – iammilind
    Feb 23, 2016 at 8:49
  • Duryodhana's actual name was Suyodhana as far as I know May 9, 2016 at 8:04

2 Answers 2


It is true that in ancient times people used to get names as per their qualities and accomplishments. But in this case it can't be said that way because from childhood it couldn't have been known how his semen was going to be. The word virya can also mean valour. So sometimes it is said, he is a viryavan purusha. It doesn't mean the person is full of semen, but full of valour or courage. So if the name Vichitravirya was given to him from his childhood then it could also mean strange or extraordinary valour.

However, it is possible that he got that name later on or this name somehow represented the possible fact that he was impotent. It is because, Bhisma forcibly brought Ambika and Ambalika to get them married with Vichitravirya and even after spending seven years with his two wives he produced no children as his successor (MB - 1.102). So if he got the name later on, then it can imply that he was impotent or unable to produce children.


After getting useless nagging in the comments below, I did a Google search and found a link to a book which also states the same second reason that I gave in the answer. I hope this backs up the answer. I am unwilling to spend my time searching scriptures just to find what a name means even if it exists at all!

Interestingly, Mahabharata also uses the term virayavan to describe Vichitravirya's quality while narrating about his birth:

athāparaṃ maheṣvāsaṃ satyavatyāṃ punaḥ prabhuḥ
vicitravīryaṃ rājānaṃ janayām āsa vīryavān
[MB - 1.95.3]

After that, the lord (king Santanu) again begot to Satyavati the king Vichitravirya, the courageous bowman.

So this backs ups the first reason that the name can mean extraordinary or strange valour.

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    Your answer just seems to be speculation. Does the Mahbharata or other scripture ever discuss why he was named Vichitravirya? Sep 19, 2014 at 14:46
  • @KeshavSrinivasan It is not speculation, it is inference. Even if you say it's speculation, what's the problem with the answer? I don't know what scriptures has to say about it because it's a simple question of meaning of the name. And I am sure if any text mentions it then it will not be differing from what the answer says.
    – Be Happy
    Sep 19, 2014 at 14:54
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    Well, the problem with the answer is that you don't actually know the reason why he was called Vichitravirya. Whether you call it speculation or inference, the point is that you're just guessing without relying on a source which gives the reason for the name. Your answers are usually excellent, but unfortunately in this case I don't think this is a good-quality answer. Sep 19, 2014 at 15:03
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    @KeshavSrinivasan See, if you think to give the meaning of something I will have to cite the scripture then you are simply mistaken. I just don't guess and give answers here, even if I don't cite a scripture the answer cannot be wrong or a guess work. If you know the answer from a scripture then give it or point out what's wrong in the answer. Don't try to dictate how or how shouldn't I write my answers.
    – Be Happy
    Sep 19, 2014 at 15:20
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    @Keshav There can be other answers, but I don't know them. I just answered what I thought the name Vichitravirya means and later on backed up my thoughts with sources.
    – Be Happy
    Sep 19, 2014 at 23:06

The interpretation that VichitraVeerya could mean 'strange semen' comes form projecting Hindi meanings on Sanskrit words.

In Hindi, Vichitra (विचित्र) means strange. In Sanskrit, strange is not the primary meaning of the word Vichitra, which has the following meanings:

diversified, variegated, spotted, speckled

various, varied


beautiful, lovely as exemplified in the verse: क्वचिद्विचित्रं जलयंचमंदिरं

wonderful, surprising, strange

The word Veeryaha (वीर्यः) has the following meanings:

heroism, prowess, valour

vigour, strength


energy, firmness, courage

power, potency

efficacy (of medicines)

semen virile

splendurous, lustre

the seed of plants


So, VichitraVeerya could mean the child when born was lovely and beautiful. It could also mean wonderful, courages, splendorous, dignified etc. This sounds like a very good choice of name (at that time) with the word having so many nice meanings.

Also, I think it would be relevant to mention here that the word Veeryajah (वीर्यजः) means 'a son'.

If I were to pick one of the combinations of the words, I would say VichitraVirya means 'lovely and valorous'

Reference used: The Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Vaman Shivaram Apte.

  • 1
    Thanks for the kind explanation and also for the useful link.
    – xkeshav
    May 9, 2016 at 9:20
  • @Keshav You are welcome :) May 9, 2016 at 9:58
  • Vichitra does mean strange in Sanskrit. It's there in your answer!
    – Surya
    May 9, 2016 at 11:12
  • Plus as I said in your other question you can't split a word and combine the individual meanings.
    – Surya
    May 9, 2016 at 11:13
  • @Surya: lolol Let me edit what I wanted to say :D May 9, 2016 at 11:13

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