The Old Jedi Order was a monastic peacekeeping organization with a long, involved history. Throughout the Galaxy the Jedi were the most famous of the various organizations that relied on the Force for their power.
Origins and Brief History of the Order
Since the beginning and most likely before the Galactic Republic, scientists had been studying the Force and its connection to midi-chlorians, most notably the Paladins of the Chatos Academy, The Followers of Palawa and the Order of Dai Bendu, on planets like Ondos and Had Abbadon. The Jedi Order itself, however, began on Tython, where the brightest and best philosophers, priests, and warriors came together long ago to discuss their discoveries involving the enigmatic, mystical positive energy called the Ashla. Those who wanted to use the Bogan, the negative energy of the Force for their personal gain ignited a century long conflict called the Force Wars, the ashes of which arose the Jedi Order. Some of these Jedi left Tython to defend the Galaxy, and became known as the Jedi Knights.
Initially the Jedi were a contemplative order, but over time they began to take a more direct and active role in galactic affairs. The Jedi followed the "light" side of the Force, using their power for unselfish and beneficial acts. In the ensuing millennia, the history of the Jedi was intertwined with both the Republic they served and the Sith they fought.
The order suffered many Schisms—the first was the Great Schism, which produced Xendor's Legions of Lettow, but the most consequential was the subsequent Hundred-Year Darkness in 7,000 BBY, where the Dark Jedi, once again defeated, were banished from known space.
They arrived on Korriban, the home of the Sith people, a primitive but Force-sensitive species. The Dark Jedi impressed the Sith with displays of Force power, and became the rulers of the planet and formed the Sith Empire. Over time, the Dark Jedi intermarried with the Sith, and the two identities merged. The term ‘Sith’ would later come to refer not only to the Sith species but also to the Dark Jedi who followed the codes of these ancient Jedi.
As a result of the aftermath of the catastrophic Battle of Ruusan, the Republic granted the Jedi land over a Force nexus: a sacred mountain on Coruscant. The Jedi eventually centralized themselves here, founding the Jedi Temple in 4,019 BBY, which would stand for four thousand years.
Timeline of major events in Jedi history
Main article: History of the Jedi Order
- c. 25,000 BBY - The Jedi Order is founded.
- c. 24,500 BBY - 24,400 BBY - The Great Schism
- 7,000 BBY - The Hundred-Year Darkness
- 5,000 BBY - The Great Hyperspace War
- 3,996 BBY - 3,956 BBY - Old Sith Wars
- 2,000 BBY - 1,000 BBY - New Sith Wars
- 1,000 BBY - Ruusan Reformation strips the Jedi of their military titles.
- 32 BBY - The Sith resurface
- 22 BBY- 19 BBY - the Clone Wars are fought, and many Jedi die or turn to the dark side.
- 19 BBY - the beginning of the Great Jedi Purge
- 4 ABY - Luke Skywalker becomes the first of the new Jedi.
- 11 ABY - Luke builds his Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4.
- 25 ABY - 30 ABY - the Yuuzhan Vong War.
Path of a Jedi
- There is no emotion, there is peace.
- There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
- There is no passion, there is serenity.
- There is no chaos, there is harmony.
- There is no death, there is the Force.
- —The Jedi Code (Based on the meditations of Odan-Urr)
Becoming a Jedi required the most profound commitment and astute mind. The life of a Jedi was one of sacrifice. Those who showed an aptitude for the Force were taken directly from birth (or soon afterward) to train in the Jedi Temple headquarters on Coruscant. From the beginning of their training a Jedi was expected to adhere to a strict Code that included concepts such as rational thought, patience, and benevolence. Emotions such as hate, anger, and fear were thought to be destructive and lead to the dark side, so such things were banned from Jedi practice.
Young Jedi were initially instructed in groups by a venerable, experienced Jedi Master, learning the ways of the Jedi and the powers of the Force. When an individual student achieved satisfactory understanding of the Jedi way, they were usually taken under the wing of another Jedi member and instructed individually to complete their training. The way of the Jedi was a life-long path, and a Jedi usually remained part of the Order their entire life - learning more about the Order and the Force and following the will of the Jedi Council.
Way of Life
In keeping with the tenets of modesty and humility, the Jedi traditionally wore simple and comfortable long, flowing robes, including tunics, pants, and a cloak—usually in varied shades of white and brown. The left side is always on the right part of the dress. The Jedi also wore utility belts, where they carried specialized field gear for their missions, and leather boots. The Jedi colors formed a stark contrast to the antithetical Sith, who were draped primarily in black.
The traditional Jedi weapon was the lightsaber, which, in the hands of a skilled wielder, could be deadly in combat, even against opponents armed with ranged weapons. Often a Jedi was tasked with constructing their own lightsaber as part of their training, by collecting and assembling special crystals that provided a lightsaber with its power.
Jedi of the Old Republic were forbidden to hold strong attachments, as they were believed to lead to the emotions of the dark side. For this reason, Jedi were not allowed to marry, though they were not required to be chaste. At least one special case was recorded in this arrangement: the Jedi Ki-Adi-Mundi who, due to low Cerean birth-rates, was permitted to have a polygamous marriage, and fathered seven daughters. Although some have been known to leave the Order such as Jolee Bindo.
During the Jedi Civil War era, many Cerean Jedi used specially-forged Kasha lightsaber crystals as a meditational tool; by incorporating such crystals into their training regimens, they helped to clear the wielder's mind of distractions, even during tense physical combat.
Ancient Jedi did practice marriage and were known to have families of their own. Revan shared a romantic affection with Bastila Shan. There were even cases of families consisting entirely of Jedi, such as that of Andur Sunrider. The children of Jedi families were often quite gifted in the Force, for they inherited a large number of midichlorians from both of their parents.
One of the main foci of the Jedi order was the study of the Force: an "energy field" that emanated from every living thing. The Jedi sought to understand the Force so that they could use its power to protect and aid the people that they served. The Jedi believed that the Force could be harnessed through careful study and contemplation to benefit the user and the world around them. As they studied the light side of the Force, the Jedi encouraged their members only to use the Force for healing and defense - never in anger or fear. Unfortunately, several of the Jedi order disagreed with this view, arguing that other, darker uses of the Force should be allowed. This disagreement was one of the main issues the Jedi faced in their constant battle with the Sith.
The dark side of the Force brought with it a great temptation for many Jedi., to many the dark side seemed a quicker and easier path. Pursuit of the dark side, however, was a self-destructive endeavor, and many Jedi who tasted dark powers found it harder and harder to turn away. Though some Jedi could be redeemed back to the path of the light, many fell and became Dark Jedi, some of whom were members of the Sith Order. For this reason, practice of dark Force powers was expressly forbidden by the Jedi Council.
Eventually the Jedi formed a central political entity called the Jedi Council. The High Council was a gathering of great minds that acted as a governing body for the Order, as well as an advisory board for the Old Republic Senate. The Jedi Council could only have 12 members at a time.
Among other tasks, the Jedi eventually became responsible for law enforcement and peacekeeping in the Galactic Republic. Many Jedi held different opinions on peacekeeping; whilst some favoured diplomacy at all costs, others advocated a more direct approach, with the majority striking a balance between the two extremes.
The Jedi Council of 4,000 BBY refused to enter the Mandalorian Wars until they felt the "threat had been assessed", taking a more passive stance on the issue. Later, perhaps due to the Order's near extinction as a result of that decision, the Jedi that rebuilt took a slightly more aggressive stance. During the Clone Wars, in the twilight years of the Galactic Republic, the Jedi acted as Generals, soldiers and military advisors in the conflict.
The Three Pillars of Jedi Strength
The strength of the Jedi Code and organization rested on three core tenets.
When used correctly, these allowed a Jedi to solve any problem and overcome any obstacle, helping to make the Galaxy a better place.
As the Jedi instructed their members in the ways of the Jedi Code and the Force, each member progressed through four basic levels of rank.
- Jedi Initiate (or Youngling) - a Force-sensitive child. At a very young age, children were removed from their families and assigned to the Jedi Temple for training. Younglings were taught in communal groups known as clans.
- Jedi Padawan - an apprentice who began serious tutelage under a single Jedi Knight or Jedi Master. In order to graduate to Padawan status, an Initiate was required to be chosen by a Knight or Master and taken as their sole pupil. If a youngling was not chosen to be a Padawan by 13 years of age, the youngling was placed into another, lesser role in the Jedi Service Corps. Depending on where the student's talents lay, this might be the Agricultural Corps, the Medical Corps, or the Exploration Corps. Padawans typically wore a long braid of hair behind their right ear. When a Padawan was elevated to Knighthood the braid was cut during the knighting ceremony. Some exceptions of late acceptances to Padawan training were made, most notably in the case of Anakin Skywalker.
- Jedi Knight - a disciplined Padawan could become a fully trained Jedi once they completed "the trials."
- Jedi Master - a Jedi Knight who showed great understanding of the Force and managed to instruct a Padawan and train them successfully to the level of a Jedi Knight. This title could also be achieved through the performance of extraordinary deeds. Self-proclamation of the Jedi Master title was rare and frowned upon by the Jedi Council.
- Jedi Grand Master was the title given to the acknowledged leader of the entire order. Yoda held this title in the final years of the Republic and, after the rebirth of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker held the title in the days of the Galactic Alliance, following the Yuuzhan Vong War.
A Jedi Knight or Jedi Master could have only one apprentice at a time, and the Padawan had to be promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight before another apprentice could be chosen.
Behind the scenes
- In the game Knights of the Old Republic, the crew of the Ebon Hawk find solace on the planet of Dantooine. It is here, that Revan—who is unaware of his former life—is retrained for the purpose of finding the Star Maps. Both Vrook and Dorak mention that is a rare exception indeed to train an adult in the ways of the Force.
- The same exception is also made dealing with Anakin Skywalker, when he is found by Qui-Gon Jinn when he is trained by Obi Wan Kenobi.
- Following the events of "Return of the Jedi", and the creation of the Jedi Academy (later Praxeum) on Yavin IV, Luke Skywalker made it possible for older students to be trained in the Force without the restrictions placed upon by the Old Republic. An example of this was Corran Horn, a Corellian member of Rogue Squadron who served in CorSec during his life as an adult prior to training with Skywalker.
- In the Wizards of the Coast version of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game, the different personal dispositions of Jedi are reflected in the gaming world by the Jedi types—Consulars for those favoring diplomacy or Force powers and Guardians for those favouring aggressive solutions. The video game Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) introduced a third type, the Sentinel, which was a balance between the two. KOTOR also assigned particular lightsaber colours to each- green for the Consular, blue for the Guardian, and yellow for the Sentinel. Whether an artifact of the RPG format of the game, or an actual canonical piece of the plot, the practice seems to have died out by the Old Republic's waning years, possibly having been lost with the near eradication of the Jedi Order during the Jedi Civil War or eliminated during the reorganization of the order during the Ruusan Reformation.
- The New Essential Chronology
- Reynolds, David West. Attack of the Clones: The Visual Dictionary.
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
- "George Lucas: 'I'm still 25'" BBC article in which George Lucas states the Jedi are not required to be celibate.