Athens was the next destination for Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. Soon after an early breakfast, Swami’s entourage proceeded to the Geneva Airport. His third visit to one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and the excitement and joy with which the devotees had been preparing for the visit, was the same as the first visit! Actually this is the same story in every country, for they prepare for the ‘Visit’ of the Creator Himself into their homes, and hearts!
Upon arrival at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in Athens, Brothers Dimitris Mexis and Giorgos Sioufas, along with other youth joined in welcoming the entourage to Athens. An hour’s drive through traffic, everyone reached ‘Sai Natha’, at the home of Brother Dimitris Mexis and his wife Mrs Ioanna, situated in Nea Peramos. A beautiful welcome awaited the Lord, and it is always an emotional reunion! Mrs Ioanna Mexis performed Pada Puja ceremony, after which Swami started talking about the rich and ancient culture of Greece. He beckoned Jai Mexis, son of Mr Dimitris and Mrs Ioanna Mexis, an architect by profession, and more importantly a student of Sai from Primary School in Prasanthi Nilayam, to talk about Socrates, Aristotle, and other great sons of Greece. Swami then spoke about the Seva activities, in particular about the feeding programme for refugees which the youth are engaged in, and expressed His joy. Swami went on to say that if basics are not given to those in need, then spirituality cannot be imparted. Students went for a short walk by the sea, and after dinner they proceeded to their Hotel very close to the centre of Athens.
The next morning, April 06 was scheduled for sight-seeing, and the young graduates from the Sri Sathya Sai Centre for Human Excellence had a wonderful time understanding the deep culture of Greece. Various cities, varied cultures, and myriad learnings are truly enhancing their knowledge, and more importantly their outlook and approach towards life. ‘Sai Natha’ was a flurry of activities as the youth were busy arranging for the Satsang in the evening, where close to 120 people were expected. Swami entered amidst Vedam, chanted so wonderfully by the youth, with perfect intonation. A short welcome and gratitude speech by Brother Dimitris Mexis was followed by a musical recital by a young budding musician who played the Greek Santoor on the command of Swami. Thereafter, Brother Jai Mexis along with another youth lady recited verses in Ancient Greek from the scriptures, which had a unique tune. Swami said it was very similar to the Sama Veda.
Mr Isaac Tigrett on Swami’s command spoke next, about culture. He talked about the beautiful spiritual culture of India, and how God is the central part of all that is done. Sri C Sreenivas expressed his views about how one lives in the wisdom of the past, when he or she comes to Greece, as wisdom holds humanity together through time. Though times may change, there are timeless truths which abide in changing times. Lessons learnt from the past and the dreams of the future, will definitely help the youth move forward, he concluded. Sri B N Narasimha Murthy narrated a story which Swami had told the students and guests the previous day, which drove home the point that all are zeros without God. He reminded everyone that asking God for the highest truth alone can satisfy the hunger of a soul.
‘When one realises the self, does the mind exist’, was a question Brother Dimitris Mexis had asked Swami while serving Him lunch that afternoon. So Swami started His discourse by saying that He would speak about the mind and explain how the mind is the reason for one’s bondage or liberation. He talked about the basis of one’s existence and the sheaths. “The body is like a car, and one who makes it do what it does, is the mind! Mind continues like a driver from one body to another. The mind uses the body until it dies, thereafter it discards and takes on another body, and starts doing the same things from its memory. Like how a bad driver will drive a car in a bad way, and also destroy everyone on the way, similarly even if a bad mind gets a new body it will do the same things it knows. Bodies keep changing birth after birth, but the mind is the same. With the company of a friend who is a good driver, this bad driver will learn the right roads, and also how to look after the car. Likewise, the mind can turn towards God or away from God; the right company is required!”
It was a wonderful evening with the Lord, guiding everyone on the path that must be taken. After Mangala Arati, dinner Prasadam was served. After about an hour, around 9 p.m. Swami came out to the balcony to witness the procession of the Epitaph by the village people. It was Good Friday in Greece, as the country follows Orthodox Christianity. Every Greek town, village or neighborhood, converge on the streets for procession of the faithful. A band or choir also follows the procession in many villages and they play or sing solemn music to express people’s sorrow. The Epitaph was followed by clergy members, women bearing myrrh and altar boys carrying the liturgical fans. People scattered flowers and perfume on the Epitaph, while holding lit candles in their hands. All the students and devotees also held candles in the hand and participated in the solemn event. Swami then retired after blessing all gathered abundantly.
The students woke up the next morning, April 07 with much excitement. Infact, childlike joy and anxiousness was seen even in the elder devotees, for everyone was going to spend half a day with the Lord on a boat! Mangala Arati was offered to Swami at ‘Sai Natha’, before His departure and He proceeded first to the residence of Brother George Papathanaseu Navs and his wife Mrs Panoria to bless their new home. Thereafter, He Swami was driven to the port where the boat was waiting for His arrival. Students and chosen devotees had already reached, eager to be with their Master. It was a wonderful morning with Swami, as He spoke about various topics on the boat, as it cruised in the gorgeous blue waters of the Aegean Sea. Swami beckoned Brother Jai Mexis to share his story of transformation. He vividly captured his journey from I to We, and admitted that he was on a journey with his fellow brothers and sisters to ‘He’. After a couple of hours, the boat stopped for lunch in the middle of the Sea, with a stunning view of the Greek Islands ahead. Swami even granted a few interviews in His beautifully decorated room. Late afternoon, Swami and the entourage returned to the shore, and He proceeded to the residence of Brother Giorgos Sioufas and his wife Mrs Evanthia Paneri. A beautiful ceremony of lighting candles upon arrival was held. Swami Himself lighted everyone’s candle, which marked the lighting of the lamp from Jerusalem. During Swami’s visit last year to Greece, He had lovingly named the home ‘Paradise’, and He reiterated it this time by saying, this home is truly paradise now as God is living here! The four-year-old Sai Narayan, the son of Brother George and Evanthia is an adorable and sweet bundle of joy, and truly an ancient soul in a young body! He led Swami to his bedroom first, and showed Him around. It was pure love between the Lord and His little child, whom He calls His property! After some rest, Swami met the family and later dinner was served to all.