Buddhism in Pakistan


Statue of a Buddha seated on a lotus throne in Swat, Pakistan

Bronze statue ofAvalokiteśvara Bodhisattvafrom Gandhara. 3rd-4th century

Buddhism has a long history in the Pakistan region – over time being part of areas within Bactria, the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the Kushan EmpireAncient India with the Maurya Empire of Ashoka, the Punjab region, and Indus River Valley cultures — areas now within the present day nation of Pakistan. Buddhist scholar Kumāralabdha of Taxila was comparable to AryadevaAśvaghoṣa and Nagarjuna. Currently there is a small community of at least 1,500 Pakistani Buddhist in the country.

Buddhism in antiquity

The region and nation, today known as Pakistan, once had a large Buddhist population and many religious structures in antiquity.



The majority of people in Gandhara, present day Southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, were Buddhist. Gandhara was largely Mahayana Buddhist, but also a stronghold of Vajrayana Buddhism. The Swat Valley, known in antiquity as Uddiyana, was a kingdom tributary to Gandhara. There are many archaeological sites from the Buddhist era in Swat.


The Buddhist sage Padmasambhava is said to have been born in a village near the present day town of Chakdara in Lower Dir District, which was then a part of Oddiyana. Padmasambhava is known as Guru Rinpoche in Tibetan and it is he who introduced Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet.

Punjab region

Buddhism was practiced in the Punjab region, with many Buddhist monastery and stupa sites in the Taxila World Heritage Site locale. It was also practiced in the Sindh regions.

Gilgit Kargah Buddha 4 Budha Carvings in Pakistan Budha Sites Takht Bhai Mardan Pakistan