Direct-seeded rice (DSR) seeds are often exposed to multiple environmental stresses in the field, leading to poor emergence, growth and productivity. Appropriate seed priming agents may help to overcome the challenges by ensuring uniform seed germination, and better seedling stand establishment. To examine the effectiveness of sodium selenite, sodium selenate, and zinc oxide nanoparticles (ZnO-NPs) as priming agents for DSR seeds, a controlled pot experiment followed by a field experiment over two consecutive years was conducted on a sandy clay loam soil (Inceptisol) in West Bengal, India. Priming with combinations of all priming agents had advantages over the hydro-priming treatment (control). All the combinations resulted in the early emergence of seedlings with improved vigour. In the field experiment, the combinations of all priming agents increased the plant chlorophyll, phenol and protein contents, leaf area index and duration, crop growth rate, uptake of nutrients (N, P, K, B, Zn and Si) and yield of DSR over the control. Our findings suggest that seed priming with the combination of ZnO-NPs, Na-selenite, and selenate could be a viable option for the sustainable intensification of DSR.