Sufi music keeps Shikhar Dhawan going

One half of Team India’s successful opening pairs in Test and ODI cricket, Shikhar Dhawan comes across as a macho man with all his tattoos, biceps and moustache twirling. This, of course is a perception built looking at him from the distance. However, when you get up, close and personal, you realise the spiritual side of the swashbuckling opener; the ‘Sufi’ side of him. ALSO READ: Shikhar Dhawan feeds Kangaroos with family in Australia.

Recently, Dhawan caught up with daily HT Brunch for an exclusive chat, which revolved around his inclination for Sufism. The chat was arranged at the famous Hazrat Nizammudin Auliya Dargah in Delhi, where Dhawan opened up on the importance and impact of Sufi music in his life, how it keeps him going and helps him deal with most difficult of the phases in life — all at the sidelines of a live qawwali performance at the dargah, which he attended for the very first time.

So, what attracted him towards Sufi music, and Dhawan responds with ‘fondness for soulful lyrics’ with his usual infectious smile: “If you look beyond the catchy beat, you then begin to understand the lyrics. The next step was relating those lyrics to situations in my own life. In this way, I gravitated towards the Sufiana kalam.” ALSO READ: Can you identify this Indian Cricket Team opener?

It was not easy for him when he kept getting overlooked for Team India after scoring year after year at the domestic circuit. It was Sufi music that helped him sustain the pressures of cricketing world. “Yes, I’ve faced tough situations in life. But I could handle them well since listening to Sufi songs taught me to treat success and setbacks in the same manner,” says Dhawan. “People say I struggled in domestic cricket for nine years before I got my international break. I tell them I was as happy in that phase too. Sufism has taught me one lesson: Be grateful for what you have today. I knew my day would come. Even if it didn’t, I was paying shukrana (thanking God) for my present,” Dhawan adds.

The elegant southpaw even relates the songs he listens to, with everyday philosophy. Through one of his favourite qawwalis, he believes in destiny. “Destiny is a very powerful force. The long bad phases in my life were meant to be. They made me think that I have to change things around,” says Dhawan. The impact of Sufism has spread on his life as he has moved to everything Sufi beyond music. He now also listens to motivational speakers on YouTube and can relate to the philosophy they spout. And his mantra for life is driven by the Sufi wisdom: ‘Realise that the present moment is all you have. Make the now the primary focus of your life.’ One does not know what tomorrow will bring. So I live for the present moment,” Dhawan signs off.