Born in Derge, eastern Tibet in 1938 and recognised as a Tulku (a reincarnation) at an early age, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is among the last generation of Tibetans to have been fully educated in Tibet. He spent the 1940's and 1950's at the famous Sakyapa monastic college Derge Gonchen engaged in an in-depth study of Buddhist scriptures including logic, philosophy and medicine. He also received many Tantric and Dzogchen transmissions and teachings from many of the leading masters of the day. He completed his studies at Derge Gonchen whilst still in his teens. By the end of the 1950s he had already acquired a notable reputation for his knowledge of Tibetan culture and Buddhism.
In 1960, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu was invited to do research in Italy by Professor Giuseppe Tucci. Tucci was a leading Tibetologist and founder of ISMEO (Instituto per L'Africa e L'Oriente), one of the major Institutes of Asian Studies in Italy. Subsequently, from 1962 until 1992, as Professor of Tibetan and Mongolian Studies, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu taught and carried out research at the University of Naples L’Orientale.
Here he focused his research on the early history of Tibet and the origins of Tibetan culture. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu is the author of many influential and profound works on Tibetan history and culture, a number of which have been translated into English: The Light of Kailash, Necklace of Gzi, Journey Among the Tibetan Nomads and Drung Deu Bon. These works reveal his commitment and determination to keep the extraordinary cultural heritage of Tibet alive and fully accessible. He has also written numerous works on Dzogchen.
Chögyal Namkhai Norbu has also founded a non-profit organization called A.S.I.A. (Association for International Solidarity in Asia), which operates in Tibet and China and is dedicated to serving the Tibetan people in the areas of education, health, training, disaster relief and sustainable economic development.