Uddiyana in the early medieval age was a small country, presently located in the Swat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan. Being a sacred place, Uddiyana valley played an important role in the history of Buddhism, especially from the perspective of Tibetan Buddhism.
It is believed that Uddiyana homeland of both the Vajrayana and Dzogchen teachings and is said to be the land where Garab Dorje, Vairotsana, Padmasambhava and Tilopa, amongst others, received the transmissions of Dzogchen.
Buddhist texts speak of Uddiyana as a beautifully green and fertile kingdom, inhabited by gentle people often clothed in white, who had great respect for wisdom and learning. It was surrounded by high, rugged mountains, and in the broad valleys were towering white stupas and golden temple roofs. It seemed a paradise on earth and so was called “the royal garden” from the Sanskrit udyana.
Uddiyana was also known as “the paradise of the dakinis”, as it was reputed for its unique sisterhood of priestesses – ladies dedicated to wisdom and spiritual development. These priestesses were not nuns and lived in sanctuaries or forest chapels.
History of Uddiyana
With regard to the origins of the Vajrayana teachings, the tantric scriptures recount that it was King Dza of the kingdom of Zahor who first received the tantras, which landed miraculously on his palace roof. It is believed that Dza is another name for King Indrabodhi of Uddiyana. If this is the case, then the tantras began to be disseminated in Uddiyana.
The first human Dzogchen master, Garab Dorje, was born near Lake Kutra in Uddiyana. His disciple, Manjushrimitra, was Indian and received the teachings in Bodh Gaya, and the next lineage holder, Shri Singha, came from the Central Asian kingdom of Khotan, but it was in Uddiyana near Lake Dhanakosha that he passed the lineage to Vairotsana.
Padmasambhava, who was to introduce Vajrayana and Dzogchen to Tibet was miraculously born on Lake Dhanakosha and raised by the king of Uddiyana.
Many of the Dzogchen texts that were translated into Tibetan during the early period of transmission were translated from the language of Uddiyana.
In recent times, archeological research in Swat conducted over the last 20 years, revealed many images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the 7th and 8th century representing the ‘final flourishing of Buddhist art in the region’.