Winner of ‘Dyanpeeth Purskar’ (1976)
Yayati, the great prince and son of King Nahush, was everything a young man of his time could dream to be. He was a renowned skilled warrior who travelled many lands astride his horse. The prince was part of an influential family and kingdom, and he also married a beautiful princess, Devyani.
However, a curse given to his father by Lord Indra when Yayati was young could wreak havoc on his life and lead him astray.
He deeply loved his wife Devyani, but unfortunately, his love was never reciprocated and that left him pining and wounded. He later fell in love with his wife’s maid, Sharmishtha, and married her secretly. Although he got a dedicated wife in Sharmishtha, the curse given to his father had begun to take form upon him and he found his lust taking control of him.
Soon enough, he found himself drowning in alcohol and women and that began to truly affect his life. Things went from bad to worse and the situation came to the point where he began to lose count of the women he consumated with, and the wine he consumed. Like all unchecked addictions, this too had terrible repercussions when women began to give up their lives for Yayati’s sake.
With matters having gone out of hand, he could control his desires no more, and longing for youth so he could grant further satisfaction to his lust, he asked his sons to give him their youth in exchange for his old age so he could be the vile, self-indulgent man and seek further carnal pleasure.
Yayati: A Classic Tale of Lust is a wonderful story told in first-person narrative by three different characters: Yayati, Devyani, and Sharmishtha. Hence, by the end of the book, readers are bound to have very mixed opinions about the protagonist and his situation as well as of other characters and their situations.
This story is a part of Mahabharata. Every character is brought to life by the juxtaposition of situations presented to Yayati, and the choices he makes during times of dilemmas. Each character is complex, with his own share of difficulties, and it is hard to form a simple judgement or render them as either black or white. In a nutshell, this is a thought-provoking classic story that will present a mélange of human characters and also attempts to get the readers thinking on why sometimes people do the things they do.
This book was first published in the year 1959 in Marathi and has, since then, been re-published several times. Needless to say, that Yayati: A Classic Tale of Lust has been very well received across the country with positive reviews from the readers and critics alike.