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Rating: 4.4/5

Author: Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar

Publisher: Mehta Publishing House

Publishing Date: 1959 (originally published), 2013 (re-published)

Language: Hindi

Genre: Historical Fiction

ISBN-10: 8171615880

ISBN-13: 978-8171615889

Format: Paperback

Pages: 432

Cost: Rs. 174.29 (Kindle edition)


'Yayati’ is one of the most popular and respected novels in Marathi Literature. Revolving around the legendary love story of Yayati and Devyani (characters from Mahabharata), this novel is respected for its brilliant narration and metaphors used in the novel that adds to its poetic appeal.

Devyani and Sharmishtha are friends and eventually jealousy creates tension among them when both of them fall in love with Yayati, a handsome prince. However, due to some tragic events, Yayati gets married to Devyani. Sharmishta comes with Devyani as her maid. Things take a turn when Sharmishta and Yayati fall in love with each other. This disrupts the married life of Yayati and Devayani and Yayati then falls in the never ending trap of lust. Will Yayati ever come out out this lust-trap? Will his son sacrifice his youth for the enjoyment of his father? Can Devyani stop Yayati from this self-demolition? What does fate hold for Sharmishta? Can her love save Yayati? One needs to devour this book to find out these and many more queries!


The title of the book refers to the prince ‘Yayati’- a great scholar and one of the noblest rulers of olden times. He followed the shastras and was devoted to the welfare of his subjects. Even the King of Gods, Indra, held him in high esteem.

The story is taken from the ‘Yayatopakhyan’, a sub-narrative in ‘The book of the beginning’ (Adi Parva) of the Mahabharata. Khandekar builds the original material into a full-length novel, adding several new episodes and developing the narrative as a love story with a theme of morality. In so doing, Khandekar brings new relevance and meaning to the story in the context of modern life.

In this novel, the author has used his innovative literary skills and imagination to develop the story by adding some modifications to the original story, which he honestly mentioned in the introduction section of the book. This novel describes several vices like: greed, lust and materialistic pleasures which are increasingly becoming undetachable part of the human beings in the present times.

The conversational style of comprehension between the characters also sometimes supposed to impart some worldly knowledge. For example, take this excerpt:

“If in the eyes of the world you are a maid, to me you are a gracious queen. The slave is Devyani. She is slave to her splendour, dignity and ego. The man whose soul is prey to selfishness, desire and enjoyment is forever slave in this world.”

Another interesting aspect of the storyline is that the tale progresses with changing perspectives. In first chapter Yayati is the narrator, in the next Devyani and in the next to that, Sharmishtha. With all its philosophical and dramatic themes, this book is very well balanced in it’s narrative.

Milestones of the book:

  • Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar was awarded Jnanpith Award for this book in 1974.

About the author:

Vishnu Sakharam Khandekar (19th January, 1898 - 2nd September, 1998) was a Marathi writer. During his school days, Khandekar was very interested in plays and acted in many plays. He later made teaching his profession and he became a school teacher in Shirod town. He wrote many compositions during this period. In 1941, he was elected the president of the annual Marathi Sahitya Sammelan.

Khandekar wrote 16 novels including Yayati. Based on his works, Marathi films like Chhaya , Jwala, Devta etc. were made. He also wrote the screenplay and dialogues for the Marathi film ‘Lagn Pahave Karun’.

He was awarded the Jnanpith Award in 1974. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in the year 1919 in the field of literature and education. In addition to novels and stories, he also wrote plays, essays and critical essays. The government issued a commemorative postage stamp in 1998 in his honour.