To (The Hungry) God Can Only Appear as Bread and Butter

Mohandas Gandhi? Corita Kent? Nirmal Kumar Bose? David Guy Powers? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The experience of hunger causes one’s motivations to focus on the need to acquire food. The following saying reflects this single-mindedness:

God himself dare not appear to a hungry person except in the form of bread.

This remark has been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi and Corita Kent; however, I have been unable to find a solid citation. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: For more than a decade Mohandas Gandhi was the editor of the weekly journal “Young India”. In 1931 the journal published a piece about Gandhi’s visit to Lancashire, England, a region that exported cloth to India. Gandhi wished to halt this transfer of goods because he envisioned an economy with homespun cloth produced locally by Indian workers. He met with English workers and discussed the prevalence of hunger in India. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is good enough to talk of God whilst we are sitting here after a nice breakfast and looking forward to a nicer luncheon, but how am I to talk of God to the millions who have to go without two meals a day. To them God can only appear as bread and butter.

This passage embodies a semantic match and a partial syntactic match for the quotation. There is also evidence that Gandhi expressed this notion on other occasions.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading To (The Hungry) God Can Only Appear as Bread and Butter

Notes:

  1. 1931 October 15, Young India: A Weekly Journal, Volume 13, Number 42, Edited by M. K. Gandhi, Gandhiji in Lancashire, Start Page 309, Quote Page 310, Column 1, Ahmedabad, India. (Young India archive at gandhiheritageportal.org) link