Buddhism in Pakistan
Statue of a Buddha seated on a lotus throne in Swat, Pakistan
Buddhism has a long history in the Pakistan region – over time being part of areas within Bactria, the Indo-Greek Kingdom, the Kushan Empire, Ancient 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 Aryadeva, Aśvaghoṣa 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.