Kalachakra 2009 [updated]

The Pakistan Taliban war is being fought in areas that 1500 years ago were Buddhist. The districts of Dir, Buner, and especially Swat are rich with Buddhist ruins, a record of a time when they were part of the Gandharan Buddhist heartland centered on the ancient capital of Taxila, now on the outskirts of Islamabad/Rawalapindi. Padmasambhava, for instance, was from Swat, ancient Uddiyana, before he went on to convert Tibet to Buddhism. These were rich, sophisticated centers of learning and art, famous for their monasteries, now sadly the locus of much suffering.

[updated 13 May 2009 with the maps above; for more detail you’re wanting John Huntington’s gorgeous map.]

[22 June 2009: It turns out that the identification of Uddiyana with Swat is contested; it might instead refer to modern-day Orissa, in eastern India.]