"What is sin?" a student in the Mauryan period (about 300 BCE) asks his guru. The guru sends two students to be apprentices to two prominent men, and report back to him after a year. The two men are poles apart. Kumargiri is a yogi; Beejagupta a hedonist who loves Chitralekha, the enchanting dancer. This story of the tangled lives of Chitralekha, Beejagupta and Kumargiri revolves around the student's question.
Chitralekha draws on the traditional folk tale format in which two princes set out on difficult journeys, in completely different directions, to seek something rare. Bhagwati Charan Verma’s skilful use of this device, larger-than-life characters, clear descriptions and sensitive use of language made Chitralekha a landmark Hindi novel in 1934.