It has been over 300 years since the title of "Panchen" came into being, which is closely related to the Tibetan politics and history.
The title "Panchen" first appeared in 1645 when the then Mongolian chief Gushri Khan, who wielded the real power in Tibet, bestowed Lozang Choskyi Gyaltsen, the 4th disciple of Tsongkhapa, with the title of "Panchen Pokto", thereby the later became the 4th Panchen Lama. The "Pan" here , "Pandita" in Sanskrit, means "scholar", and "chen" , "chenpo" in Tibetan, means "great", with the two words together symbolizing the "great scholar"; meanwhile, the Mongolian word "Pokto" refers to the intelligent and courageous heroes.
Gushri Khan appointed Lozang Choskyi Gyaltsen to take charge of the Tashilhunpo Monastery and put some regions of Rear Tibet under the jurisdiction of Panchen Lama.
The Tsongkhapa’s disciple Khedrup Je was conferred as the 1st Panchen Lama by later generations.
Tsongkhapa, the teacher of Panchen and Dalai, is a religious reformist, social activist, and the founder of the Gelug Sect Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1713, Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty bestowed the title "Panchen Erdeni" upon Losang Yeshe, the 5th Panchen Lama, and granted him a gold seal and gold album, consequently establishing the Panchen Lama’s position as the religious leader in Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Qing central government also granted him with the right to rule parts of Rear Tibet.
Since the conferring of the title by the Qing emperors, the reincarnation of the Panchen has been under the supervision of the central government. After "drawing lots from the golden urn", the soul boys’ enthronement must be approved by the central government before the official investitures.Their tonsure, religious names, and choice of teachers must be reported to the central government for ratification, and the central government sends envoys to supervise the enthronement ceremonies of the Panchen Lama.