It was August 2011. I got the opportunity to pursue PhD in electrical engineering in the USA. This was my first international travel, and it was going to be a long one almost 40 hours of travel. The flight from Mumbai to Chicago would take 23 hours with a stopover at Frankfurt plus an additional 12 hours to reach Mumbai from Ujjain. While booking the flight ticket, I registered for fruit meal, the only option available for a Krsna devotee. On the flight, they sumptuously supplied fruits, and I couldn’t finish them all. Since I knew I had to wait at Chicago airport for more than 12 hours and fearing I may find nothing to eat there, I thought it wise to keep some fruits with me a serious mistake which would have cost me dearly.
On the flight, the passengers were given a customs declaration form. The passenger sitting next to me advised me that there was no need to fill all the details there were too many unnecessary questions and it would be a waste of time to go through all of them. What I failed to notice in the form was a question that asked us if we carried any fruits, vegetables or seeds. I overlooked the question and marked no, unaware of the consequences that I would have to face later. I completely forgot that I had some fruits in my bag!
When I finally reached Chicago, I was going through the immigration and custom check. My bag passed through the scanner, and the scanner camera showed that there were indeed some fruits in my bag. But my customs declaration form said otherwise that I carried no fruits. I couldn’t figure out how an apple can cause such a big problem, but I soon realized that I had landed in big trouble. They began to seriously interrogate me and charged a fine of $300. I didn’t have any cash as I had deposited all my money in my traveler’s card. They even threatened to imprison me for treachery and conceit. All I could do was pray to Lord Krsna.
Miraculously Krsna did help me. The bag in which I had kept the apple also contained my devotional püja paraphernalia and some of Srila Prabhupada’s books like the First Canto of Srimad-Bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita. When the officer opened my bag in an angry mood, he saw Srila Prabhupada’s books and happened to touch them. I then noticed a distinct change in him. He suddenly became pacified and his voice became mild and soft. After a few more minutes of interrogation, he let me go and didn’t even charge me any fine.
I realized that it was due to the power of the divine mercy of Krsna in the form of Srila Prabhupada’s transcendental books they are so powerful that just by touching them people’s lives can transform. From that day I decided to distribute as many books of Srila Prabhupada as possible, and that is going to be my goal and mission in life. Srila Prabhupada’s books are not ordinary books; they are the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Krsna. These books are the best source of transcendental knowledge, and whenever someone comes in contact them, his devotional life immediately begins. And if they choose to practice the philosophy under the guidance of a bona fide spiritual master, they will go back to Godhead without a doubt.