In fact, if I look at the order my yoga took
I was five years old (I must have begun earlier, but the
memory is a bit vague and imprecise)
but from five
onwards, in my consciousness (not a mental memory buthow
can I put it?it's noted, a notation in my consciousness)
well, I began with consciousness. Of course I had no idea
what it was. But my first experience was of the consciousness
here (gesture above the head), which I felt like
a Light and a Force; and I felt it there (same gesture)
at the age of five.
was a very pleasant sensation. I would sit in a little armchair
made especially for me, all alone in my room, and I
didn't know what it was, you see, not a thing, nothingmentally
zero) and I had a VERY PLEASANT feeling of something
very strong, very luminous, and it was here (above the
head). Consciousness. And I felt, "That's what
I have to live, what I have to be." Not with all those
words, naturally, but
(Mother makes a gesture
of aspiration Upwards). Then I would pull it down,
for it was
it was truly my raison d'être.
is my first memoryat five years old. Its impact was
more on the ethical side than the intellectual; and yet
it took an intellectual form too, since
. You see,
apparently I was a child like any other, except that I was
hard to handle. Hard in the sense that I had no interest
in food, no interest in ordinary games, no liking for going
to my friends' houses for snacks, because eating cake wasn't
the least bit interesting! And it was impossible to punish
me because I really couldn't have cared less: being deprived
of dessert was rather a relief for me! And then I flatly
refused to learn reading; I refused to learn. And even bathing
me was very hard, because I was put in the care of an English
governess, and that meant cold bathsmy brother took
it in stride, but I just howled! Later it was found to be
bad for me (the doctor said so), but that was much later.
So you get the picture.
whenever there was unpleasantness with my relatives, with
playmates or friends, I would feel all the nastiness or
bad willall sorts of pretty ugly things that came
(I was rather sensitive, for I instinctively nurtured an
ideal of beauty and harmony, which all the circumstances
of life kept denying)
so whenever I felt sad, I was
most careful not to say anything to my mother or father,
because my father didn't give a hoot and my mother would
scold methat was always the first thing she did. And
so I would go to my room and sit down in my little armchair,
and there I could concentrate and try to understand
in my own way. And I remember that after quite a few probably
fruitless attempts I wound up telling myself (I always used
to talk myself; I don't know why or how, but I would talk
to myself just as I talked to others): "Look here,
you feel sad because so-and-so said something really disgusting
to youbut why does that make you cry? Why are you
so sad? He's the one who was bad, so he should be crying.
You didn't do anything bad to him
Did you tell him
nasty things? Did you fight with her, or with him? No you
didn't do anything, did you; well then, you needn't feel
sad. You should only be sad if you've done something bad,
." So that settled it: I would never cry.
With just a slight inward movement, or "something"
that said, "You've done no wrong," there was no
there was another side to this "someone": it was
watching me more and more, and as soon as I said one word
or made one gesture too many, had one little bad thought,
teased my brother or whatever, the smallest thing, it would
say (Mother takes on a severe tone), "Look
out, be careful!". At first I used to moan about it,
but by and by it taught me: "Don't lamentput
right, mend." And when things could be mendedas
they almost always couldI would do so. All that on
a five to seven-year-old child's scale of intelligence.
it was consciousness.
Next came the period of learning and developing, but on
an ordinary mental levelschool years. Curiosity made
me want to learn to read. Did I tell you how it happened?
When I was around seven, just under seven, my brother, who
was eighteen months older, used to bring big pictures home
from school with him (you know, pictures for children with
captions at the bottom; they're still used nowadays) and
he gave me one of them. "What's written there?"
I asked. "Read it!" he said. "Don't know
how", I replied. "Then learn!" "All
right", I told him, "show me the letters."
He brought me an A-B-C book. I knew it within two days and
on the third day I started reading. That's how I learned.
"Oh-oh," they used to say, "this child is
backward! Seven years old and she still can't readdisgraceful!"
The whole family fretted about it. And then lo and behold,
in about a week I knew what should have taken me years to
learnit made them think twice!
school years. I was a very bright student, always for the
same reason: I wanted to understand. I wasn't interested
in learning thing by heart like the others didI wanted
to understand them. And what a memory I had, a fantastic
memory for sound and images! I had only to read a poem aloud
at night, and the next morning I knew it. And after I had
studied or read a book and some one mentioned a passage
to me, I would say, "Ah, yesthat's on page so
and so." I would find the page. Nothing had faded,
it was all still fresh. But this is the ordinary period
at a very young age (about eight or ten), along with my
studies I began to paint. At twelve I was already doing
portraits. All aspects of art and beauty, but particularly
music and painting fascinated me. I went through a very
intense vital development during that period, with, just
like in my early years, the presence of a kind of inner
Guide; and all centred on studies: the study of sensations,
observations, the study of technique, comparative studies,
even a whole spectrum of observations dealing with taste,
smell and hearinga kind of classification of experiences.
And this extended to all facets of life, all the experiences
life can bring, all of them - miseries, joys, difficulties,
sufferings everythingoh, a whole field of studies!
And always this presence within, judging, deciding, classifying,
organizing and systematizing everything.
conscious yoga made a sudden entry into the picture when I met
Théon; I must have been about twenty-one. Life's orientation
changed, a whole series of experiences took place, with the development
of the vital giving interesting occult results.
a period of intensive mental development, mental development
of the most complete type: a study of all the philosophies,
all the conceptual juggling, in minute detaildelving
into systems, getting a grasp on them. Ten years of intensive
mental studies leading me to
I had all this preparation. And I am giving you these details
simply to tell you it all began with consciousness (I knew
very well what consciousness was, even before I had any
word or idea to explain it), consciousness and its forceits
force of action, its force of execution. Next, a detailed
study and thorough development of the vital. After that,
mental development taken to its uppermost limit, where you
can juggle with all ideas; a development stage where it's
already understood that all ideas are true and that there's
a synthesis to be made, and that beyond the synthesis lies
something luminous and true. And behind it all, a continual
consciousness. Such was my state when I came here: I'd had
a world of experiences and had already attained conscious
union with the Divine above and withinall of it consciously
realized, carefully noted and so forthwhen I came
to Sri Aurobindo.
the standpoint of shakti, this is the normal course: consciousness,
vital, mental and spiritual.
- The Mother