2022 International Conference and Art Festival for Promoting Social Cohesion and Interfaith Harmony
BUDDHISM IN PAKISTAN: HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY, ART AND ARCHITECTURE
March 14-15, 2022
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 such as Asanga, Vasubhandha,Guru Rinpoche and Monk Marananta. The two brothers, Asanga and Vasubhandha, were born in the 4thcentury 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 a “Second Buddha” for adherents of Buddhism in China, Nepal and Bhutan. 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, Mardan and Swat. As a holy land of Buddhism, Pakistan houses the Buddhist heritage sites, art and iconography of unmatched significance for devotees, scholars and travelers.
The two day conference held in Islamabad offered a platform for all faiths to interact and develop interfaith understanding. The overwhelming participation of Buddh pilgrims from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, USA and other countries made this event memorable.
The conference and associated art festival were inaugurated by President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Arif Alvi. The president graced the event with his wife. He visited the stalls of artisans at work – who were portraying creation of Gandharan artifacts. The art gallery was a point of interest for him. He viewed the displayed pictures, sculptures, models and visual representation of 3d augmented images of discovered sites from Gandharan era.
President formally inaugurated the conference by delivering his speech. He mentioned about his knowledge about cross cultural and interfaith ideologies. He emphasized on the importance of the objectives of conference – to create interfaith harmony and social cohesion.
The two day conference was followed by tours to ancient sites where Buddhism originated in Pakistan before propagating to far eastern countries. The delegates took keen interest in exploration of Gandharan civilization and lauded Pakistan’s efforts to preserve history.