Divya by Yashpal is set in historical times, the era when teachings of Buddha were prevalent and people were embracing Buddhism. The book is originally in Hindi, it’s been translated in English by Anand. It is a story about the girl Divya. The book traces her journey from her teenage to the time when she decides as to what she wants in life.
Each chapter has been neatly outlined and details out the characters of the story. The key characters are Prithusen, the son of the merchant Preshta, who has achieved a noble status in the society based on his skill of breeding horses. Rudradhir, twice born brahmin son of Acharya Pravardhan, Chairman of Republican council, Devi Mallika, the courtsean, Ratnaprabha the courtsean, divya’s aged Great Grand Father, the chief Justice of Sagal, mahapandit Dev Sharma, Marish,who engraves the sculptors. Like this as the story proceeds there will some more characters come in. The story begins with the spring festival being celebrated in the court and the people of the state participate in various competitions. Through these competitions we readers are introduced to Prithusen who is awarded the best swordsmen of the state and Divya who is designated as Daughter of Saraswati in one of the Dance Performance. Readers also get introduced various senior people of the State in the first two chapters,the story revolves around the difference which exists between the upper class (brahmins) and lower class (other than brahmins). There is a sharp contrast between these two classes. There is a clash between Prithusen and Rudradhir over who should carry the palquin of the winner of the Dance Competition, Prithusen is not allowed as he is not brahmin.
Thus begins the journey of Prithusen who is burning with the desire of being treated as equal to brahmins as he won the title of the Best Swordsmen of the State. He seeks justice in the court of Maha pandit Dev Sharma. Divya is attracted to her and she promises the justice to him as the Chief Justice himself was unable to meet him. As the hearing of Prithusen in the court is delayed, divya and prithusen start getting closer to each other.And their meeting place is Devi Mallika’s house garden. Meanwhile the news of War starts coming in and Prithusen gets busy in the hectic preparations of war, Rudradhir was banished from the state for 2000 days after the chief justice decides the judgement in favor of Prithusen. As Prithusen gets busy in the preaparations of war, the passion between two lovers is on height. The marriage proposal from Prithusen for Divya is kept on hold by MahaPandit Dev Sharma in the light of upcoming war. Meanwhile as the war is approaching, Prithusen is ready to go, one such night Divya meets him and they cross all the barriers. Divya is happy about the fact that she belongs to Prithusen wholly. As the war starts, news of Prithusen being emerging as victorious starts pouring in. On other side Divya is waiting for his return as she was pregnant with Prithusen’s child. Finally he arrives all injured and Seero, the daughter of the Chairman of the council is put on the duty for taking care of him and the physician from the Buddhist Math Cheebuk starts nursing Prithusen. Divya goes to meet Prithusen, however he is sleeping and Seero’s nursing will prevails and she returns back. Soon the news between Seero and prithusen reaches the ears of Divya too. She goes to meet him for the last time but she is unable to and on the way back she decides to abandon the plan to go back to her house and gets into the hands of slave seller.
From there, a new journey begins for Divya as she struggles to keep her baby boy alive, her name is changed to Dara. She becomes a wet nurse in order to feed herself and the baby. As she is unable to bear the fact that she should first feed the baby of household and then hers, she runs away and takes a refuge in Buddhist Math, however, she is denied the entry because she is not a free woman! It’s the prostitute who is a free woman. Circumstances force her to drown herself in Yamuna River and there she is saved by Ratnaprabha. In her house, divya gets changed to Anshumala and her glory is at her heights due to her dancing skill. However, she is unable to come out of the grief that has hit upon her after the death of the baby and the fact that she was betrayed by her lover. In such circumstances, she is wooed by Marish and then by Rudradhir who was once smitten by her. But she defies all such advances. Meanwhile, caste system is once more restored in Sagal on the return of the Rudradhir as he completes his banished term. Prithusen becomes a Buddhist Monk and no more he fears from Rudradhir or vice versa under the guidance of Cheebuk. Devi Mallika wants an heir to carry forward her legacy and she settles upon the disciple of Ratnapabha without knowing that she is Divya. As she asks RatnaPrabha to give that disciple to her, she realises that it’s no other than Divya. This marks another phase of journey for Divya and she returns to Sagal but being a daughter of brahmin household she cannot be a courtesan and once again she has nowhere to go. She is approached by Acharya Rudrdhir to become the lady of Sagal by marrying him, Prithusen offers her to turn to buddhism and Marish comes and offers his manhood and it is to this man she finally goes to.
The book traces Divya’s journey at various phases and it is through her eyes we are able to see the mysteries and miseries of the caste system and life. There is a rampant use of Buddhist Philosophies and its all and all a historical book. It binds a reader till end.
A woman oriented novel, recommended only to History Lovers.