The title of Jedi Master was the highest formal rank obtainable by a member of the Jedi Order. Reserved for those who had shown exceptional devotion and skill as well as balance in the Force and often combat, only individuals who had been given the rank of Master could sit on the Jedi High Council, with few exceptions (such as the case of Anakin Skywalker or Ki-Adi-Mundi), or any of the three other Councils.
The rank of Jedi Master was bestowed upon very few Jedi Knights in every generation. As such, Jedi Masters made up the smallest percent of the Order's membership. The most common path to this rank was to train and elevate several Padawans to the rank of Jedi Knight, typically one right after the other, and have them all successfully pass their Jedi Trials. If one did not wish to train several students, a Jedi Knight could choose to undergo a modified version of the Trials of Knighthood or gain attention for their service to the Republic. Each of these feats could gain the Jedi High Council's acknowledgment and result in a promotion to the rank of Jedi Master. When Luke Skywalker reformed the Order following the Great Jedi Purge, he promoted his students to the rank of Jedi Master based on their degree of mastery of the Force. As the order began to grow, most Jedi Knights were promoted to the rank of Jedi Master based on the extraordinary deeds they performed for the New Republic. One well-known example was the promotion of Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn following the defeat of the Dark Jedi Desann at his blade.
A practice strongly discouraged by the Jedi High Council and little seen during the Golden Age of the Old Republic was a Jedi Knight judging themselves and assuming the rank of Master without the Jedi Council's approval. This was not uncommon practice during the Old and New Sith Wars, as the order was not centrally controlled during the period, and many saw their victories against the Sith a sign of their skills and achievements. One well-known example of this practice was the ascension to mastery by Jedi Jorus C'baoth; indeed even his clone, Joruus C'baoth, would also claim himself a Jedi Master. Luke Skywalker was forced to promote himself to the rank of Jedi Master; due to the fact that there were no known Jedi Masters left alive to officially grant him the rank.
Those Jedi Masters whose talents were extremely superior were asked to join the ranks of the Jedi Councils. Their promotion was often based on their specialized knowledge or skill sets, or vast experience in the field. As a member of a Jedi Council, a Jedi Master was given great responsibility within the Order, and often was seen at the Coruscant Temple or satellite facility instructing Initiates in the basics of the Order's techniques. The members of the Jedi Council were not necessarily the most skilled lightsaber duelist or even those possessed of the greatest range of Force powers. Instead, membership was reserved to those Jedi Masters who could see through a situation or add insight the best swordsmen could not ever perceive.
The Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker; who had surpassed all the Jedi Masters on the Jedi Council in raw power and lightsaber combat, was never granted the rank of Jedi Master - despite the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine's special appointment of him to the Jedi High Council during the Clone Wars, something that had never been done in the history of the order. Other Jedi Masters; such as Qui-Gon Jinn were members of what was known as the Old Guard or those Jedi that were under consideration for appointment to one of the Jedi Councils. However, some members considered Master Jinn too radical to sit on the esteemed body.
While Jedi Master was the highest of the formal ranks of the order, the Jedi High Council would select a Jedi Master who possessed the strongest mind, the greatest leadership qualities and incomparable mastery of the Force and name them Grand Master, the undisputed leader of the order. In the order's earliest years, several Grand Masters were appointed, though this practice was abandoned following the Ruusan Reformation. In addition to the Grand Master rank, the Jedi High Council and the Council of First Knowledge appointed a leader to guide discussion and moderate debates. In the case of the Jedi High Council, the Master of the Order was a rank often held by the Grand Master himself. The First Knowledge Council was led by the Caretaker; who at one point shared the title of Chief Librarian of the Librarian's Assembly.
While there were generally no locks at the Temple on Coruscant, a few chambers were sealed to non-Jedi Masters. The Holocron Vaults in the Jedi Archives were sealed off to all but members of the Jedi High Council, as was the Treasury located under the High Council Chamber. This was to ensure that the treasures of the order; especially the dangerous Sith holocrons found in the Archives Vaults; did not fall into the wrong hands.
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