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Namtar (Tib. རྣམ་ཐར་, Wyl. rnam thar) — the literary genre of traditional religious biographies. We often distinguish outer namtars (Wyl. phyi'i rnam thar), which recount deeds manifesting themselves directly to others, from inner and secret namtars, which tell of the inner qualities of learning, reflection, meditative experiences, and realization.

About namtar, Dudjom Rinpoche said:

If you want to engage in Buddhist practice to attain fully enlightened buddhahood, it is very important to read the life stories of past sublime being. By doing so, you will come to understand how they attained realization, what practices they did, and what kind of realization they gained. You can then follow their example. If you aim to accomplish your practice, these sublime beings’ words and stories will act as your witness.

Alternative Translations

  • hagiography
  • life of liberation
  • life (rnam) and liberation (thar)
  • spiritual career

Further Reading

  • M. Kapstein, in Buswell and Gimello, eds., pp 219. n 10, quotes Kong sprul, plate 89, who gives a long explanation of the usual Tibetan term for 'hagiography', rnam thar.