Pakistan is a holy land for millions of Buddhist devotees around the world. The country is the birthplace of Mahayana Buddhism and renowned Buddhist mystics and philosophers including Asanga, Vasubhandha, Guru Rinpoche and Monk Marananta. The two brothers, Asanga and Vasubhandha, were born in the 4th century CE Peshawar, then known as Purushapura, and became prominent spiritual leaders of Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche (also known as Padmasambhava) was incarnated in the Swat valley. He is venerated as the “second Buddha” by adherents of Buddhism in Bhutan, Nepal and China. 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 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 and monasteries in Taxila, Haripur, Mardan, Swat and many other parts of Pakistan. 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 students of Buddhism. The Silk Road Centre and Quaid-i-Azam University’s Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations in collaboration with local and international partners are organizing an international conference to promote the Buddhist heritage of Pakistan for peace and prosperity. The event features research sessions, training workshops, arts and craft festival, and guided tours to key Buddhist sites in Gandhara.
Purpose and Objective
This year’s conference is designed to engage a wide range of stakeholders including scholars, faith leaders, conservation specialists, tour operators, youth and communities in knowledge development, conservation discourse, education, training, and community engagement dialogue to preserve and promote the Buddhist heritage of Pakistan dating back to the 3rd century BC.