The first Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the close five heart sons and one of the twenty five principal disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. He was an accomplished Yangdag master and was among the first seven to receive the ordination of Gelong (monk) in the eighth century. He received empowerments and pith instructions from both Guru Rinpochhe and Khenchhen Bodhisattva. He was also the root Lama of the great Dharma King Trisong Detsen.

Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the five that King Trisong Detsen of Tibet chose to send to India in search of the secret tantras at the behest of Guru Pema Jungnay. The five – Nub Namkhai Nyingpo, Drugu Epaksha, Lang Pelgyi Senge, Singharaja and Dre Gyelwai Lodro – were ordained by the abbot of the Samye monastery, Shantarakshita, and trained in the Sanskrit and Tibetan languages, and with gold dust for currency, they set out for India.

Readily accepting much hardship on the way they finally reached Eastern India, and at Kamarupa, a major tantric seat in Assam, they encountered a Dakini who directed them to the master Hungkara, who lived in the Garuda Grove at Golden Rock, Serdrak Jakhyung Tsel. At the master’s residence they were greeted by an attendant Saukhya Deva to whom they made a gift of some gold requesting him to facilitate an audience with the Master and they were ushered through nine successive circular concentric chambers into the master’s presence. Hungkara greeted them kindly and after receiving their offering gave them initiation and instruction.

First Hungkara revealed a series of mandalas of the Buddha-deity Yangdak Thuk, Immaculate Mind, followed by a series of mandalas of the Buddha-deity Dutsi Men, Ambrosial Panacea, for long-life practice. He also showed them Vajrasattva mandalas and the methods of conduct of the tantric yogin. Through these initiations the Tibetans saw the faces of the Buddha-deities.

Then Hungkara gave them detailed instruction on the practice of Yangdak Thuk and instructed the Tibetan monks to stabilize their meditation in a year-long retreat, but fearful of the country and the king, four of them opted to disobey Hungkara and left Namkhai Nyingpo alone to do the retreat. The master sent off the fearful monks with a wooden phurba to protect them, carried by Lang Pelgyi Senge, with instruction to insert it into his pillow at night. One night as they slept by a lake in Nepal, Drugu Epaksha withdrew it from Pelgyi Senge’s pillow and stuck it into his own. Then because of their lack of faith in their Guru’s instruction, the black-devil naga called Damdzin, Mud-Holder, who lived in the lake, took the form of a black snake and bit Lang Pelgyi Senge in the small veins of his neck and killed him. Back in Tibet, the king and ministers disbelieved their story and exiled the three to distant parts of the country.

Namkhai Nyingpo meditated for one year in the Garuda Grove at Golden Rock, before he saw the vision of the male and female Yangdak Herukas in union. Thereby he attained both ordinary magical powers and supreme realization. Then Hungkara advised him to return to Tibet.

King Trisong Detsen received him gratefully. Expressing his accomplishment of Yangdak, Namkhai Nyingpo slit open his torso from top to bottom with a silver knife, revealing the forty-two peaceful Buddha-deities in his chest and the fifty-eight blood-drinking Herukas in his stomach. The King made Namkhai Nyingpo his high priest and received instruction from him before jealous conspiring ministers had him exiled to Iron Phurba Rock, Chakphur Drak, to the west of Kharchu in Lhodrak near the Bhutan border. There he left the imprint of his body in rock and demonstrated his realization by penetrating a boulder with his phurba. He could spontaneously ignite butter lamps and he could travel riding on the sun’s rays.

The King, meanwhile, became seriously ill. The rites performed for his recovery were made to no avail. Likewise all the activity of astrologers and exorcists proved futile. But a diviner advised him to recall Namkhai Nyingpo from exile, which he did, and Namkhai Nyingpo cured him by magical means. His opponents at court continued to conspire against him. Commanded to dress the king’s hair just before sunset with promise of dire punishment if he failed to complete the task before the sun set, Namkhai Nyingpo stuck his wooden phurba into the crack between light and shade, delaying sunset for half a day while he completed his task. And when he had finished he told the servants to put the animals into their byres and corals, and pulling out the phurba from the line between light and shade the sun suddenly set. When his enemies set an ambush to kill him, exclaiming “HUNG! HUNG!” in a loud wrathful voice, a thunderbolt fell out of the sky and catching it upon the tip of his index finger he kept it spinning there. Then the Bhikshu Namkhai Nyingpo flew on the rays of the sun to Kharchu in Lhodrak .

Guru Rinpoche prophesized that Namkhai Nyingpo and his successive reincarnate will bring immeasurable benefit to the sentient beings. As prophesised, Namkhai Nyingpo travelled and hid many valuable dharma treasures throughout Tibet and lived for over two hundred years. Namkhai Nyingpo left the earthly world miraculously disappearing into space along with the physical body.