Palden Tenpai Nyima (1782–1853) was the seventh Panchen Lama of Tibet.
Lobsang Palden Yeshe, the previous Panchen Lama, died from smallpox in Beijing in 1780. The brother of Lobsang Palden Yeshe, Shamarpa, who was acting as Regent, wrote to the British Governor of India, Warren Hastings, in 1782 to say that a new incarnation had been found.
Shamarpa had hoped to inherit some of the riches given to his brother in Beijing after his death. When this didn't eventuate, he conspired with the Nepalese who sent a Gurkha army in 1788 which took control of Shigatse. Shamarpa, however, did not keep his side of the bargain and the Gurkha army returned three years later to claim their spoils, but the Chinese sent an army to support the Tibetans and drove them back to Nepal in 1792.
In 1810 (or 1811) Palden Tenpai Nyima gave the pre-novice ordination to the 9th Dalai Lama at the Potala Palace, and gave him the name Lungtok Gyatso.
After Lungtok Gyatso died in 1815, eight years passed before a new Dalai Lama was chosen. The political events in this period are murky, but finally Palden Tenpai Nyima intervened and used the Golden Urn (from which names of candidates were picked) for the first time as part of the tests for the choice of the new Dalai Lama. In 1822 the 10th Dalai Lama was placed upon the Golden Throne and soon after his enthronement received his pre-novice ordination from Palden Tenpai Nyima, who gave him the name of Tsultrim Gyatso. He administered the Gelong vows (full ordination) to Tsultrin Gyatso in 1831.
In 1842, Palden Tenpai Nyima recognised the new Dalai Lama cut his hair and administered the pre-novice vows, giving him the name of Khedrup Gyatso, who was then enthroned as the Eleventh Dalai Lama.
In 1844, Palden Tenpai Nyima had a summer palace for the Panchen Lamas built about 1 km south of Tashilhunpo Monastery containing 2 chapels in walled gardens. The 10th Panchen Lama added sumptuous sitting rooms and audience room. It is now a popular picnic spot described in a tourist guide.
In 1844 Gyatso left to travel to Eastern Tibet. Monks from Sera Monastery kidnapped three secretaries from the Regent's government to guarantee his welfare, which resulted in the declaration of a national emergency. Palden Tenpai Nyima was invited to return to Lhasa from Tsang Province and, in the 8th month of that year, was placed on the throne as the new regent. However, he only accepted that role for a short period, handing over the regency to Rva-dreng Nga-wang Ye-she Tsul-trim on the 4th month of the following year (1845).
In 1846 Palden Tenpai Nyima administered the full novice ordination on Khedrup Gyatso.
According to R. A. Stein, Tenpai Nyima "enjoyed great prestige at the Chinese court."
Unfortunately, all the tombs from the Fifth to the Ninth Panchen Lamas were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and have been rebuilt by the 10th Panchen Lama with a huge tomb at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, known as the Tashi Langyar.