It is perhaps not very wrong to say that the process of the last decisive physical transformation in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga-tapasya began sometime in the mid-thirties. The siddhi or realisation of the Overmind consciousness working in the physical was already obtained by him in 1926; it set off a certain globality of operation for its functioning at the material level. Since then his entire yogic effort was organised towards getting the higher, the supramental siddhi in the substance of the body itself. This was a totally new situation in the context of the evolutionary earth; but it was also a situation fraught with dangers, it yet holding in it all the glorious possibilities opening themselves in the direction towards which a secret hand had already started guiding the process.
This transformation of the death-afflicted physical was certainly a most difficult endeavour whose parallel could perhaps be seen only in a remote way in ancient times, more specifically in the Vedic tapasya of Rishi Agastya. But his body could not withstand the effect of "the triple poison" and he had to finally give up the golden attempt. The body was not ready to hold the charge of luminous immortality in it. It did not possess the necessary spiritual merit for this purpose: it was still unbaked, atapta tanu, and another kind of tapasya was needed to overcome the difficulty. The cells of the body had not awakened yet to the reality that is seated deep within them. The groundwork of the Overmind consciousness in the sequel of evolution, working in the collective, had also not yet been prepared and kept ready. This happened much later, only after the coming of its Avatar, towards the end of Dwapar Yuga, at the time of the Mahabharata war.
After these long and tentative centuries of preparation the pioneering task of Rishi Agastya was taken up again by Sri Aurobindo who brought to it a decisive completeness. Granting that such a moment in the evolutionary history of the earth had arrived, and that there was the necessary sanction of the Supreme for it, the problem of the inconscient nature had yet long remained untackled. Sri Aurobindo’s concern was chiefly this. It was a twofold effort, of invoking and bringing down the dynamism of the supreme Truth on the earthly plane and preparing the unregenerate inconscient nature to receive it for its unhampered action. The spiritual and occult-yogic tapasya carried out together by him and the Mother saw that this was done. That opened new doors, bright doors of the physical, for the entry of the Infinite's dimensions in the earth-play. Presently it has made its manifestation an accomplished fact, here in the physical’s subtle.
It will be perhaps quite enlightening to know the broad stages through which this yoga-tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had proceeded. We do get a certain glimpse of it in some of their writings of the period, particularly Sri Aurobindo’s poetic compositions which have at times unmistakable autobiographical suggestions in them...
In July 1938 the Yogi-Poet had an assignation with the primordial Night, the Night of Creation. He went to meet her, carrying “God’s deathless light” in his breast. He was aware that this was going to be a very bold and dangerous rendezvous; it was going to be an exceptional and most decisive affair, fraught with possibilities. His fate and hence the fate of the world remained locked in them, in the possibility leading towards earthly deathlessness. So, he the pilgrim-soul made an assignation with the Night. But what was the outcome of that bold and dangerous rendezvous? What had actually transpired in the course of the meeting? But apart from dropping some broad hints, no communiqué was issued. If at all, it seemed that the way was lost and that there was no end to the “weary journeying”.
Yet there was hope, there was conviction and certitude that the outcome was going to be a path leading towards immortality. There was the inalienable freedom, and the Yogi-Poet lived in the Spirit’s calm, and was in possession of the vast immobile bliss of the Being. Soon his rooms would get lit up with an endless Light, and rapture would be coursing through his nerves, and through every cell of his body. In a mute blaze of ecstasy, and preserving the “living sense of the Imperishable”, even in the bodily existence, he would proceed towards his goal. That was great indeed, marvellous. If the bodily existence was set ablaze in this way, it meant that there was the wonderful realisation or the siddhi of the Mind of Light in him, that the physical had started receiving the supramental. Sri Aurobindo had definitely moved towards it, a remarkable event, a landmark event in the evolutionary sequence. It is said that Pythagoras had a thigh of gold, and that Vamadeva, after crossing the hundredth year, lived in a golden body for sixteen full years. Something golden had happened in that far past, but now the Mind of Light has made the body its permanent base, permanent home.
In his sonnet The Golden Light we have a very clear statement of this most extraordinary siddhi of the Mind of Light achieved by Sri Aurobindo. It is in that that he worked for the last dozen years or so, pursuing the immortal lines of Infinity, compelling it to take earthward turn.
The sonnet was first written on 8 August 1938,—just one week after his explicatory letter to Amal Kiran mentioned above, regarding the “general descent” which was not in view at that instant of time. The sonnet was later revised on 3 March 1944. The revisions are of a few minor verbal type but for our purpose, as far as the essential substance is concerned, it has remained intact...
If the golden Light of the one whom he had earlier apotheosised as “O my sweet” in the first draft has come down into his brain and throat and heart and feet, illustratively representing “my earth”, then we can surely recognise the body-mind opening to the supramental: here is the most definite statement of the experience of the Mind of Light Sri Aurobindo had, about which the Mother spoke later that the supramental had descended in him “long ago”.
This must be considered as the first beginning of the process of physical transformation which he had received as a birthday gift a week in advance, before 15 August in 1938. He has now offered his entire physical being to the invading deity and made it a temple for her permanent residence. Supramental Light and Consciousness and Force of that deity, breathing and living and luminous, have appeared dynamically and giftedly and splendidly upon the earth’s playfield.