In the Wikipedia, it is mentioned that Vichitravirya died of tuberculosis. But how did he even get diagnosed in that early era?

I know Wikipedia can't be trusted but I am interested to know what is mentioned about the cause of Vichitravirya's death in scripture?

1 Answer 1


Vichitravirya's death is described in this chapter of the Adi Parva of the Mahabharata:

And though Vichitravirya was virtuous and abstemious, yet, proud of youth and beauty, he soon became lustful after his marriage. And both Ambika and Ambalika were of tall stature, and of the complexion of molten gold. And their heads were covered with black curly hair, and their finger-nails were high and red; their hips were fat and round, and their breasts full and deep. And endued with every auspicious mark, the amiable young ladies considered themselves to be wedded to a husband who was every way worthy of themselves, and extremely loved and respected Vichitravirya. And Vichitravirya also, endued with the prowess of the celestials and the beauty of the twin Aswins, could steal the heart of any beautiful woman. And the prince passed seven years uninterruptedly in the company of his wives. He was attacked while yet in the prime of youth, with phthisis. Friends and relatives in consultation with one another tried to effect a cure. But in spite of all efforts, the Kuru prince died, setting like the evening sun. The virtuous Bhishma then became plunged into anxiety and grief, and in consultation with Satyavati caused the obsequial rites of the deceased to be performed by learned priests and the several of the Kuru race.

Phthisis is another word for pulmonary tuberculosis. Here's the original Sanskrit verse if you're interested:

tābhyāṃ saha samāḥ sapta viharan pṛthivīpatiḥ

vicitravīryas taruṇo yakṣmāṇaṃ samapadyata

Yakshma is the Sanskrit word for tuberculosis. In any case, the Mahabharata passage suggests that Vichitravirya's death was ultimately caused by his overindulgence in amorous pursuits. You see, Ayurveda utilizes the theory of bodily humors or Doshas, and associates tuberculosis with a specific imbalance of those Doshas which can be caused by an over-indulgence in amorous pursuits. (In the Greek theory of humors, this would be classified as an excess of blood, but the Ayurvedic theory is more complicated, and it may be an excess of one of the Kapha Doshas as described in this book.)

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    Nice answer. Even I was aware that Vichitravirya died due to TB following his bodily pleasures with 2 wives. But 1 thing was and remains unclear. Is there any proven link between sex and TB in modern science or have people just linked it? Because, was he too much into sex, he wouldn't have died childless from 2 queens. Or had he really lived his name?! :)
    – iammilind
    Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 3:10
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    @iammilind No, as far as I know modern medicine doesn't recognize any connection between the two; tuberculosis is just caused by a bacterium. I think it basically boils down to this: the symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis are related to blood, so the disease was associated with an excess of blood, and over-indulgence in amorous pursuits is an activity associated with an excess of blood with respect to the bodily humors. Now perhaps Vichitravirya died of some other condition caused by over-indulgence in amorous pursuits, and it was misdiagnosed as TB because its symptoms were blood-related. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 3:48
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    @iammilind And yeah, I think Vichitravirya may have been impotent as his name suggests. He lived with his wives for seven years and yet produced no offspring. Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 3:50
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    The Ayurveda belief is thar over indulgence leads to weakness and reduced resistance to infection. In such a state diseases like TB attack the host more easily.
    – J P Murty
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 14:42
  • "Overindulgence in amorous pursuits" and "excess of blood", sounds like he contracted an STD like HIV/AIDS since the symptoms are similar to TB.
    – Ikshvaku
    Commented Oct 7, 2017 at 23:43

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