Oḍḍiyāna (Sanskrit Oḍḍiyāna; Tibetan: ཨུ་རྒྱན་, Wylie: u rgyan, Chinese: 烏萇; pinyin: Wūcháng, Mongolian: Үржин urkhin, Odia: ଓଡ଼ିଆଣ), a small country in early medieval India, is ascribed importance in the development and dissemination of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is conventionally placed in what is now the Swat District of Pakistan, where it, along with Buner, Gandhara, and Sattagydia were administered as part of the satrapy of Paropamisadae of the Alexandrian Empire.[1] An alternate theory places its location in what is now the modern Indian state of Odisha. Later Tibetan traditions view it as a beyul, a legendary heavenly place inaccessible to ordinary mortals. Padmasambhava, the eighth-century Buddhist master who was instrumental in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet, was believed to have been born in Oddiyana.[2]


Udyāna (Sanskrit "garden, orchard"; is usually reported as being located north of Peshawar along the Swat River; it was regarded as the furthest part of northern ancient India during the time of Faxian.[3]

The area is said to have supported some 500 viharas of the Sthavira nikāya, at which traveling monks were provided lodgings and food for three days. It was said to contain a Buddha footprint, a rock on which he dried his clothes, and a locale where he converted a nāga. It is said that two schools derived from the Sthavira nikāya, the Dharmaguptaka and Kāśyapīya, were established in this area. Both of these schools had proto-Mahayana doctrines.[citation needed]

Faxian stated that the food and clothing worn by those in Udyana were similar to those residing in the Indo-Gangetic Plain.[3]

Orissa theoryEdit

The physical location of Oḍḍiyāna is disputed and open to conjecture. Possible locations that have been identified are:[2]

  • Odisha in Eastern India, through a case founded upon "literary, archeological and iconographic evidence". Scholars championing this location contend that the name Oḍḍiyāna derives from the Dravidian Oṭṭiyan, denoting a native or indigenous person of Oḍra ("Odisha") or from Oṭṭiyam, Telugu for Oḍra. Oḍḍiyāna is also the Middle Indic form of Udyāna "garden," the name by which Xuanzang knew the region around Odisha. Confusion about the identity of Oddiyana is conflated with confusion about the identity of Indrabhuti as Donaldson (2001: p. 11) observes:

In his argument, P. C. Bagchi states that there are two distinct series of names in Tibetan: (1) O-rgyān, U-rgyān, O-ḍi-yā-na, and (2) O-ḍi-vi-śā, with the first series connected with Indrabhūti, i.e., Oḍiyăna and Uḍḍiyāna, while the second series falls back on Oḍi and Oḍiviśa, i.e., Uḍra (Odisha) and has nothing to do with Indrabhūti. N.K. Sahu objects, however, and points out that these two sets of names are seldom distinguished in Buddhist Tantra literature, and opines that the words Oḍa, Oḍra, Uḍra, Oḍiviśa and Oḍiyāna are all used as variants of Uḍḍiyāna. In the Sādhanamālā, he further points out, Uḍḍiyāna is also spelt as Oḍrayāna while in the Kālikā Purāṇa, as indicated earlier, it is spelt either Uḍḍiyāna or Oḍra. There is also evidence, Sahu continues, that Indrabhūti is the king of Odisha rather than of the Swāt valley. The Caturāsiti-siddha-Pravṛtti, for example, mentions him as the king of Oḍiviśa while Cordier, in his Bṣtān-ḥgyur catalogue, gives sufficient indications of his being the king of Orissa. Also, in his famous work Jñānasiddhi, king Indrabhūti opens it with an invocation to Lord Jagannātha, a deity intimately associated with Odisha and with no other area of India.[4]

  • In later Tibetan traditions, Oḍḍiyāna is either conflated or identified with Shambhala, a land inhabited by ḍākinīs and inaccessible to or by ordinary mortals[citation needed].

Orgyan or OrgyenEdit

In the 'Seven Line Prayer' (of Padmasambhava) revealed in Jigme Lingpa's terma of the Ngöndro of the Longchen Nyingthig and throughout the Longchen Nyingtig Ngondro, Oddiyana is rendered in the form Tibetan: ཨོ་རྒྱན, Wylie: o rgyan.

Tibetan BuddhismEdit

In Tibetan Buddhist literature, Oḍḍiyāna is described as being ruled by several kings each of whom were named Indrabhūti.[2]

A number of Vajrayana and tantric practitioners are said to have stayed and practiced there. The first Vajrayana teachings were supposedly given there by Gautama Buddha at the request of the king.[5]


  1. ^ Eggermont, Alexander's Campaigns in Sind and Baluchistan 1975, p. 176.
  2. ^ a b c Keown, Damien (2003). A Dictionary of Buddhism (1 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 203, 208. ISBN 9780198605607. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  3. ^ a b Polo, Marco; Yule, Sir Henry; Cordier, Henri (1993). The Travels of Marco Polo: The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition : Including the Unabridged Third Edition (1903) of Henry Yule's Annotated Translation, as Revised by Henri Cordier, Together with Cordier's Later Volume of Notes and Addenda (1920). Courier Corporation. p. 164. ISBN 9780486275864.
  4. ^ Donaldson, Thomas E. (2001). 'Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa: Text', Volume 1 of Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa, Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts. Abhinav Publications. ISBN 81-7017-375-2, ISBN 978-81-7017-375-5 Source: [1] (accessed: Tuesday February 2, 2010), p.11
  5. ^ Nyingma History