Siege Diaries 7/20/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt: Am I living a just life?

I see the pursuit of justice–in the full sense of the word, the giving of each person their due with kindness and the good of the community in mind–as my life’s work. It is not easy work, because what is justice for me may not be justice for you. What is just for my community may not be just for yours–although, at their core, most people and most communities desire protection from harm, respect, and the basic necessities of life.

The most important part of this for me is the turning away from vengeance or revenge, because that is a pathway that always leads to a dead end. There are some things that cannot be atoned for, some things that cannot simply be forgiven and forgotten. This is where the Indigenous concept of restorative justice has such power–but I worry that non-Indigenous societies lack the deep sense of kinship or community that makes such concepts work. However, the concept at the core is that each person is a member of a community, and harm to one harms all, is one with a great deal of appeal.

Today is my 30th anniversary. I won’t say it seems like yesterday any more, but I will say that it doesn’t seem like that long.

It’s been mostly very, very good. No relationship is perfect. In RPG terms, I didn’t roll a natural 20, but it’s easily a 19.

SMASH is now fully underway. Some of today’s efforts:

Design the most ridiculous heraldic device you can, using period heraldry. Describe it using heraldic terminology and grammar. Bonus points for puns.

….otherwise known as “Liar Liar, pants on fire.” (This device design finally got me to design an entire device in GIMP, learning a couple of tricks along the way.

Tell a terrible joke in a dead language. Keep it clean, not mean.

At first, I thought this task was to research an extant joke in a dead language. I found a couple and was all ready to record, when I realized the task did not indicate a recording was necessary.

The original joke:
Why did the chicken cross the road? To see the man laying bricks.

The translation into Latin:
The pun doesn’t quite translate exactly into Latin, but we can get something with the same basic sense and retains the pun.

The verb for “to lay (an egg) is (ova) parere.

The same verb can mean “to bring forth, create


Quare pullus viam transit? Ut videat vir qui fundamenta parere.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To see the man laying a foundation.

(This is stretching things a bit, because “to lay a foundation” is a verb on its own, but might be understood in a poetic or philosophical sense as “laying the foundation” of an argument.

(Double meanings are VERY difficult to translate into another language.)


In the medieval period, there was a great deal more gender equality in South Asia than in most other places in the world. Women had access to education, property, and personal autonomy. Many notable South Asian women held positions of great power and authority. Anula of Anuradhapura, the first female monarch in Asia, Queen Sugula, the Rebel Queen Fearless, Gargi Vachaknavi the Sage, Maitreyi the Philosopher… and many more. Write a one page essay about the life of one of the extraordinary women who lived in this part of the world.

Mirabai (Meera)
Mirabai/Meera, who is venerated as a Bhakti saint, was a poet and a mystic of the 16th century, particularly renowned for her intense devotion to Krishna.  Through her father, she was related to the founders of Jodphur.  The tale transmitted via oral tradition is that she was given a doll of Krishna when she was jus three years old, and immediately declared that she would devote her life to the god.  Her mother supported her in this devotion, but died when she was young

Meera’s father had arranged a marriage for her at a young age to Prince Bhoj Raj—a match that raised her and her family in social status–but Meera invited scorn from her new family by attending as much to intense and ecstatic devotion to Krishna as she did her responsibilities as a wife. Her new family was also devoted to Durga, whom she refused to worship. Despite slander spread by her sister-in-law,  er reputation as a learned mystic continued to grow, especially the bhajans (devotional poetry) she wrote. The story is told is that her devotion attracted the attention of the Mughal emperor Akbar, a Muslim, who resolved to visit her in person even though her husband’s family were Akhbar’s enemies. He gifted her with a priceless necklace, which enraged her husband.  Bhoj Raj demanded that Meera commit suicide, but Krishna appeared to her and told her she would be safe in Brindaband.  Eventually her husband, now contrite, convinced her to return.

But Bhoj Raj died in battle some afterwards.  Meera’s father-in-law demanded she throw herself on his funeral pyre, hoping to be rid of her, but Meera refused, declaring that Krishna was her true husband.  Her husband’s family, enraged, kept her captive and tried to have her killed twice.  Each time, she survived, which she attributed to Krishna.  Eventually she was able to escape again to Brindaband and lived the rest of her life as a devoted mystic, winning over many sages who had initially insisted that no woman could ever attain the kind of spiritual enlightenment she aspired to. 

Although thousands of poems attributed to Meera exist and continue to circulate today, it is unknown how many of them were actually written by her, although her reputation within 100 years of her death had grown so much that it is likely that at least some are authentic.   Meera’s poems are lyrical padas (metric verses) in the  Rajasthani language—passionate, defiant, ecstatic, full of anticipation. Krisha is portrayed as both yogi and lover, with Meera seeking union with him as his spiritual wife.  In her poems, Krishna is a yogi and lover, and she herself is a yogini ready to take her place by his side into a spiritual marital bliss.

Dark Friend, what can I say?
This love I bring
from distant lifetimes is ancient,
do not revile it.
Seeing your elegant body
I am ravished.
Visit our courtyard, hear the women
singing old hymns
On the square I’ve laid
out a welcome of teardrops,
body and mind I surrendered ages ago,
taking refuge
wherever your feet pass.
Mira flees from lifetime to lifetime,
your virgin.

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