Nagarjuna is generally considered as the most important figure in Mahayana Buddhism. Acknowledged as the life pillar of Mahayana, it was he who brought the ‘Prajnaparimita in a hundred thousand verses’ from the world of Nagas to the human world and founded over one hundred and eight study centres.

He was specifically a major exponent of the Unexcelled Vehicle of Vajrayana. As a great tantric master he received the Lotus Speech of the eight Great Sadhanas, such as Supreme Steed Display. Having attained realization of Hayagriva, he transmitted the lineage to Padmasambhava. His writings on tantric teachings are many and among them are the Condensed into Short One (mdor bys) and the Five Levels (rims pa lnga) on generation and completion phases respectively. He also wrote the Five Treatises and Mulamadhymaka karika (on Madhyamika), hymns of praise, and a number of discourses including the Letter to a Friend. Most of his commentaries were translated into Tibetan during the time of pious king Trisong Detsen and are existing in the Translation Treatises (bstn gyur), which has 225 volumes in total.

The Lord Buddha himself predicted that Nagarjuna would be born four hundred years after his own parinirvana and that he would live for six hundred years. Accordingly, he is said to have taken birth in Vatali, in the southern part of India around four hundred years after the Buddha’s parinirvana. Though it was foretold that he would live for six hundred years, he had only seven days of lifespan when he was born. By means of performing rites, his life was extended for seven years. After almost seven years had passed, his parents sent him away as they couldn’t bear to see his corpse. So, he happened to come to Nalanda University and became monk. From Acharya Rahula, he received the practice of Mahamayuri and attained sidhis; thus he had dominion over lifespan and stayed alive for six hundred years. He later acted as preceptor for the monks and by practicing alchemy he transformed ordinary materials into gold in order to sustain the monks from a dreadful famine, which struck at that time. He erected pillars and stone walls to protect the Bodhi Tree and constructed 108 stupas in Bodhigaya. In total, he constructed over one hundred million stupas around the country. In later part of his life, he resided in Nagarjunakonda, in Andhra Pradesh, and founded the Madhayamika School, where he taught and developed the teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. He had seven great heart sons and master Aryadeva was one among them.

Source: Palyul Times by Ngagyur Rigzod Editorial Committee