Namkhai Nyingpo (8th/9th century AD) (Wylie: gNubs Nam-mkha’i sNying-po) is counted amongst the principal 'twenty-five disciples' (Wylie: rje 'bang nyer lnga) of Padmasambhava. Namkhai Nyingpo was a realized practitioner of Shantarakshita’s tradition of Sutrayana and 'gradual' Mahayana, as well as simultaneously being one of the most accomplished Tibetan practitioners of the Chinese Ch’an School (East Mountain Teachings), which transmits the Tönmun or 'sudden' tradition of the Mahayana. In addition, Namkhai Nyingpo was also a realized master of the Dzogchen path (Atiyogayana) of 'self-liberation' (Wylie: rang grol), as well as a Master of the Tantric Path (Tantrayana) of transformation (specifically, the three Outer Tantra yana and the Inner Tantra yana bar Dzogchen according to the scheme of the Nyingmapa).
Namkhai Nyingpo was born in Lower Nyal. Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the first indigenous Tibetans to take tantric buddhist ordination. This ordination and empowerment took place at Samye and was conducted by Śāntarakṣita. Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the select five that Trisong Detsen commissioned to undergo pilgrimage to India with the charge of securing sacred texts, principally tantras, at the behest of Padmasambhava. Namkhai Nyingpo was faithful to his quest and fulfilled his charge and faced his fear. The other four were: Drugu Epaksha, Lang Pelgyi Senge, Singharaja and Dre Gyelwai Lodro, all of whom failed to honour their duty, sacred charge or dharma out of fear. Namkhai Nyingpo was an accomplished siddha who wielded the phurba, an esoteric ritual and magical tool for working with energy and principally the manifestation or activity of energy.
Dargyay (1977, 1998: p. 33) discusses the particular generation stage cycle of the 'Eight Pronouncements' (Wylie: bka'-brgyad) that Namkhai Nyingpo was 'empowered' (Wylie: dbangs-bskur) to practice by Padmasambhava, and through the 'sadhana' (Wylie: sgrub-sde) of which he realised siddhi:
- Nam-mkha'-snying-po practised the cycle Yang-dag-thugs-kyi-snying-thig, and as a sign of successful meditation he rode on a beam of the sun.