Pakistan is a holy land for millions of Buddhist devotees around the world. The country is the birthplace of Mahayana Buddhism and two legendary Buddhist mystics, Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava) and Monk Marananta. Guru Rinpoche better known as Padmasambhava was incarnated in the Swat valley. For adherents of Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, Padmasambhava is a “second Buddha”. The monk Marananta is believed to be from Chhota Lahore in today’s Swabi district. He travelled from Chhota Lahore to Korea through China and preached Buddhism there. Pakistan’s Gandhara region not only fostered Mahayana Buddhism but also became the cradle of the famous Gandhara culture, art and learning. Gandhara is home to the ancient and highly sacred Buddhist stupas in Taxila and Swat. The Gilgit Manuscripts discovered in Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan region are among the oldest surviving collection of Buddhist scriptures in the subcontinent.  As a holy land of Buddhism, Pakistan houses the Buddhist heritage sites, art and iconography of unmatched significance for devotees, scholars and travelers. The Silk Road Centre and Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University are organizing an international conference on Buddhism in Pakistan along with an art festival and curated visits to sacred Buddhist sites to promote the understanding and value of Pakistan’s Buddhist heritage that flourished here from the 3rd century BCE to the 10th century CE. The conference will be held in Islamabad from October 11-12, 2021.

Purpose and Objective

The purpose of this conference on Buddhism in Pakistan is to bring together local and international scholars, experts, artists, and devotees to explore the Buddhist history, philosophy, art, and architecture and highlight the importance of Buddhist heritage of the country. The conference sessions and art festival will cover a vast array of themes exploring Buddhist texts, literature, art forms and architecture that once flourished in the area forming today’s Pakistan and along the celebrated Silk Road. Curated post-conference trips to sacred Buddhist sites will be an enriching experience for the participants. The conference events are carefully designed to provide a platform to revive Pakistan’s ancient links with the outside world based on a shared history and cultural heritage.