The Queen is Dead

Well, you might say “who cares that the empress of an already past empire is dead,” and you’d be justified. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not the global hegemon it used to be. I grant you that.

But Elizabeth II must have been a remarkable person for having reigned so long during often extremely turbulent times. For 70 years. She appears to have been a permanent fixture of the world — something like the Dalai Lama.

During that time, the US saw 14 presidents, and she met all of them except Lyndon B. Johnson. They came and went, but she endured as the head of her state. She was witness to nearly all the major events of the past century. She was not an evil person although she inherited an empire, which though drenched in blood, that was not the most evil the world has ever known. She got dealt a mixed hand and played it well, all things considered.

I note her passing with sadness not because she was “royal” but merely because to me every death — that of a saint or a sinner, a king or a beggar — is a sad occasion. There’s nothing special about her death but I believe with the English poet John Dunne (1572 – 1631) that “each man’s death diminishes me.” I quote from his meditations:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

This is exactly what our Sanatana Dharma, our precious heritage, also proclaims: that we are all divine, and therefore each of us is by our very nature precious.

But our Dharma also teaches us that nothing is ever lost. Everything is forever transitioning, being transformed into other things. The passing of things is only illusory — maya. But understand that the world is not an illusion; only that our perception of the world is an illusion.

May her soul rest in peace. (I say this as the benediction appropriate to her tradition, and not as an endorsement of that theology.)

And now, a bit to lighten the mood. This bit is from her Jubilee Celebrations of June 2022:

She was a good sport, wasn’t she?

Author: Atanu Dey


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