- "And so the Dai Bendu waited, they contemplated and meditated and listened with their minds and hearts, as well as their senses."
The Order of Dai Bendu, also known as the Bendu, was one of the many ancient and semi-legendary organizations that studied the Force and the midi-chlorians in the Early Hyperspace Age, prior to the birth of the Galactic Republic on Coruscant. While the Order originated on Thape, it thrived in the Andobi Mountains of the snowy planet Ando Prime.
In 36,453 BBY, a group of Bendu monks were brought to the planet of Tython, where they encountered other Force-sensitive groups and took part in the establishment of the Je'daii Order. A number of elements and symbols borrowed from the Dai Bendu made their way into the Je'daii Order and its successor, the Holy Order of the Jedi Knights.
Although the Order of Dai Bendu still existed in the waning days of the Republic, its tenets were poorly understood and its involvement with the birth of the Je'daii Order had been mostly forgotten, even in the scientific circles. Some historians of that time theorized that the Bendu monks were the original incarnation of the Jedi, but lacked solid proofs to back up their claim. Only a few individuals, including the Sith Lord Darth Plagueis, possessed texts pertaining to the ancient Dai Bendu.
- "Before the Jedi Order, such Force-sensitive beings were isolated instead of united. Some were regarded as wizards. Others as demons."
- ―Palpatine, on the ancient groups that became the Jedi Knights
The ancient Order of Dai Bendu arose in the Mid Rim region of the galaxy, on an astronomical object named Thape. The date of its emergence was lost in time, but the Order existed from the earliest antiquity. Indeed, the Dai Bendu monks were already active by the 38th millennia before the Galactic Civil War, in an era known as the Early Hyperspace Age. That era saw the early developments of space travel, which provided unprecedented possibilities for cross-species communication.
At first, the Order of Dai Bendu consisted of peaceful monks dedicated to the study of numerology and holding to non-confrontational principles. It became one of the first groups that ever discovered and studied the Force, a mystic energy that flowed through all living things and bound the galaxy together. The monks had also discovered the midi-chlorians, a species of microscopic organisms that existed within the cells of every living creature and allowed them to touch the Force. While other organizations had developed similar ideas elsewhere, including the shamans of Dathomir and the Selkath scholars from Manaan, they were isolated from each other and unable to share their views.
At some point after the foundation of their Order, the Bendu monks traveled to the snowy Ando Prime, another Mid Rim planet, where a Force nexus was located. They made their home in the Andobi Mountains, where they stayed in isolation. As a result of moving out to Ando Prime, all the new Bendu monks were Talids, a nomadic species indigenous to that planet. They were often collectively referred to as the "Bendu Tribe," and the term "Dai Bendu" itself was sometimes used to describe a member of the Talid species.
- "They heard the call in their hearts, in their minds. Not with words, yet as a voice."
Around 37,453 BBY, the Dai Bendu monks discovered a mysterious pyramidal edifice half-buried in the snow. Intrigued by that wonder of unidentified origin, they called it the "Tho Yor" in their language. While they understood that the Tho Yor came from another world, the monks could not guess its purpose or even see what was contained inside. Nonetheless, they felt a great power was contained in it, and they believed that, some day, they could hear its "voice" through patient meditation. For many years, the monks gathered round the pyramid, kneeling before their new object of adoration even under heavy snowfalls.
After attending the edifice for a millennium, the ancient prophecy was fulfilled when a group of monks finally heard the call of the Tho Yor in 36,453 BBY. They entered it, discovering it was in fact a starship. The monks of the Dai Bendu were transported to the world of Tython, in the galaxy's Deep Core. Once there, they discovered that seven other Tho Yor had repeated the pattern elsewhere in the galaxy, gathering sentients who could hear their call and bringing them to Tython. Together with other Force-sensitive organizations, the Bendu monks became the first Tythans and contributed to the foundation of the Je'daii Order, who sought to maintain peace through the harmony of balance. A monk named Lha-Mi became one of the first Temple Masters of the Je'daii Order, and he was put in charge of Stav Kesh, the Temple of Martial Arts. The name Je'daii itself testified to the influence of Bendu philosophy on the Order. It was an amalgam of two Dai Bendu words: je meaning "mystic" and dai meaning "center".
- "Beyond Tython, they settled first on Kalimahr, jewel of the Tython system, then Shikaakwa, the outlaw world, then on the forest planet Ska Gora, and on the moons of the giants—Obri and Mawr—and even the outermost planet, cold Furies Gate."
More than a millennium after the birth of the Je'daii Order, the Tythonian city of Aurum was destroyed, and the planet was deemed too dangerous for those not sensitive to the Force. The non–Forceful Tythans thus started to explore the Tython system and establish colonies on the neighboring worlds. The green-colored Kalimahr was the first planet they settled, and the colonists had brought their religions with them. For that reason, Kalimahr became the spiritual hub of the system, teeming with religious communities and pilgrims. The Bendu monks had not been left behind and had built several temples on Kalimahr, one of which was located in the eastern quarter of the Khar Peninsula, a nineteen-kilometer long byland. By 25,793 BBY, that particular building was abandoned by the Bendu monks and become a refuge for the Stargazers, a cult-like group of fanatics who sought to reactivate an ancient hypergate. At that time, groups of Bendu monks could often be seen chanting outside the lobby of the Rhol Yan spaceport, with travelers settling around them and listening to their haunting chants.
The Jedi and the Galactic Republic
- "Xendor sought the hierarch's permission to create an academy for the study of Force traditions—to tap into the knowledge of the Chatos Academy and the Dai Bendu, the Palawa and the Kashi Mer, the Bogan and the Kel Dor sages, the Way of the Dark and Protectorate of the Hidden."
- ―Arden Lyn, minion of Xendor
Later on, the Je'daii Order was succeeded by one of its splinter groups, the Holy Order of the Jedi Knights, which ended up associating with the newly-formed Galactic Republic around 25,000 BBY. Through that new order of Force-users, some of the teachings and symbols that originated with the Dai Bendu were preserved for millennia. The Jedi notably endorsed the eight-rayed sigil of the Bendu monks, a symbol of the Force binding all living things in the galaxy, having brandished that emblem during the Unification Wars that resulted in the founding of the Republic. The Jedi renegade Xendor also drew on the Dai Bendu knowledge when he built his academy on planet Lettow. Ultimately, Xendor's controversial teachings led to the First Great Schism in the history of the Jedi.
However, not all monks had merged with the growing number of Je'daii in the first place, and the Dai Bendu Order maintained its presence on Ando Prime very long after the departure of the Tho Yor. At some point between 3,643 and 3640 BBY, in the middle of the Galactic War, a delegation of Bendu monks traveled throughout the Core Worlds, escorting a casket that contained a meditating Bendu master. Opportunities to study Bendu artifact were rare, which prompted certain citizens of the Republic to approach the monks and ask for information.
Fall into oblivion
- "Welcome, podracing fans, to Ando Prime! Home of the benevolent Andobi Bendu monks!"
- ―A podracing announcer
Many centuries flew past and, during the height of the Republic, the Order of Dai Bendu had been largely forgotten. Its name only appeared in a few crumbling history disks, and while several historians rightfully suspected that the Bendu monks were one of the original incarnations of the Jedi Order, they never found any evidence to support their claim. In his time, the Sith Lord Darth Plagueis—Master to the famous Palpatine—was among the few individuals who possessed texts devoted to the Order of Dai Bendu and other early Force-centered groups such as the Followers of Palawa or the Chatos Academy. The fifth and last day of the Galactic Standard week had also been named "Benduday," sharing its name with the ancient monastic order.
Despite the general lack of academic knowledge about them, the Bendu monks still occupied a monastery in the Andobi Moutains around the time of the Naboo Crisis in 32 BBY, when they were led by the High Priest Ten-Abu Donba. Far to the south of the monastery, modern cities had been established in recent decades. To suit the needs of modern life, a giant pump station and a large pipeline had been built to carry water from its source, the lakes and glaciers of the Andobi Mountains. In order to entertain the thousands of laborers who worked on the cities, the pumping station and the pipeline, podraces were held annually along the access roads around the mountain. Faithful to their non-confrontational beliefs, Donba's monks welcomed the various podracing events that wound their way through Ando Prime's icy terrain, even though three of them tore right through their village, in the vicinity of the monk's tents, in the shadow of a massive stone statue. The High Priest Donba himself served as the honorary starter for those races, under the warm cheers and acclamations of the public.
By 27 ABY, much had happened in the galaxy. The millennial Republic had been replaced by the authoritarian Galactic Empire, which in turn had been toppled by a group of rebels after twenty-three years of tyranny. A New Republic had been founded, and a vast collection of documents designed to be exhaustive was created. That Neo-Republican database, however, knew nothing of the Bendu monks' influence over the birth of the Jedi Order. Its files assumed that the details of the origins of the Jedi had been lost in time, speculating that the Order had emerged sua sponte at the same time as the original Galactic Constitution in 25,053 BBY.
Organization and beliefs
The Dai Bendu monks of Ando Prime lived in a tribal community, away from the busy cities and under the guidance of the wisest of them all, who bore the title of High Priest. They dwelled in a simple tent village nestled in the mountains and pure water, which they pumped from the Andobi Mountain Pipeline, was sacred to their beliefs—although they sometimes sold it to occasional visitors. Those who had migrated to the Tython system had built temples of their own on the settled worlds, some of which were decorated with stained-glass symbols and frescoes relaying the monks' religious tales and history. The monks also used to string rectangular pieces of cloth along mountain ridges, sometimes colorful, sometimes covered with inscriptions.
They wore long, flowing robes of simple design, and some of them used walking poles to help them move in frozen terrains. In the late years of the order, the High Priest donned elaborate orange or red robes with a high, pointed hood. The Bendu monks performed different kinds of chanting, some of which consisted in eerie and haunting ululations while others required a low, deep voice, sounding like a growl. Those who listened to their meditating voices would sway slowly in time with the chant.
The monks were known for teaching non-confrontational principles, with the notable exception of commercialism. Despite their professed commitment to peace, at the time of the Naboo Crisis, the monks not only hosted but also organized podraces, a sport which was both notoriously dangerous and based on competition. It notably allowed them to sell their crafts, including artisanal carpets, to the numerous podracing fans who visited Ando Prime. Despite that breach of their own rules, the Bendu monks were still regarded as both dignified and kindly in the waning decades of the Galactic Republic.
Numerology, the study of the occult significance of numbers, was also used and developed by the Bendu monks. They believed that the number nine represented the beneficent presence of the Force in a unitary galaxy. At the time of the Unification Wars, they used to represent this through eight spokes joined to one disc. That eight-spoked sigil was very similar, although not identical, to the one that was engraved on the Tho Yor's triangular faces. The Bendu symbol was later reclaimed by the Sith Emperor, who made it the emblem of his Sith Empire. Millennia later, the crest was reused once again. Renamed the "Galactic Roundel," the Bendu symbol adorned the starfighters of the Jedi Knights and saw use as the insignia of the Galactic Republic as a whole. After the fall of the Republic and its replacement by the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY, the self-appointed Emperor Palpatine personalized this ancient icon by removing two spokes, thus creating the Imperial crest.
Behind the scenes
The term "Jedi Bendu" was an early name that Star Wars creator George Lucas considered using for the Jedi in the 1974 rough draft of what would become Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. In that script, the Jedi Bendu were described as "the most feared warriors in the universe" and "the personal bodyguards of the emperor." The name of Bendu was later reused in the Expanded Universe of Star Wars to designate one of the religious organizations that gave rise to the Jedi Order.
The concept of the Bendu being a primitive incarnation of the Jedi Order first emerged in the reference book Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections, which was written by Curtis Saxton and published on April 23, 2002. However, the monks themselves had made their first appearance in the 1999 video game Star Wars Episode I: Racer, although no connection with the Jedi had been established at the time. Later reference books such as the Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, The New Essential Chronology and The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia mentioned them without giving new details. It was not until 2012, with the release of the Dawn of the Jedi series of comics, that the Dai Bendu monks appeared again in a Star Wars product, thirteen years after Star Wars: Episode I Racer.
The Bendu monks received a brief mention in the 2011 MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic, released by BioWare. They were mentioned in the archaeology crew skill mission entitled "Secrets of the Bendu," available for players of the Republic faction only. In a crew skill mission, the player would send one of their companions to complete the quest. However, due to the mission being available to all classes, it was unknown which of the four Republic heroes—the Hero of Tython, Voidhound, the Barsen'thor or the Havoc Squad commander—actually approached the Bendu monks. As a reward for the mission, the player received some polychromic crystals.
Comparison with Buddhist traditions
The lifestyle and customs of the Bendu monks displays many similarities with Buddhist monasticism. Like the Tibetan monks, the Dai Bendu dwell in the snowy mountains. In addition, the clothes worn by High Priest Ten-Abu Donba resemble the red robes and pointed hats worn by the "Red Sect" of Tibetan Buddhism. Both Episode I Racer and the Dawn of the Jedi comics showed that the Bendu monks made prayer flags similar to those used in Tibetan Buddhism.
In some Buddhist traditions, mummified bodies of monks are displayed in a meditating lotus posture inside an upright coffin. The "Secrets of the Bendu" crew skill quest that appeared in Star Wars: The Old Republic showed that the same practice existed among the Dai Bendu. The eight-spoked sigil of the Dai Bendu also resembles the Dharmacakra or "Wheel of the Law," a symbol of the Buddha's teachings.
|BenduChant-SWE1R.ogg (info · help)|
|An example of Bendu chant|
- Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1 (In flashback(s))
- Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void
- Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void audiobook
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Mentioned only)
- Darth Plagueis (Mentioned only)
- Darth Plagueis audiobook (Mentioned only)
- The Wrath of Darth Maul (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Episode I: Racer (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections (First mentioned)
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook (First identified as Order of Dai Bendu)
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Essential Atlas
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
- Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi 0
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.45
Notes and references
- Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1
- The Essential Atlas
- Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void
- In Dawn of the Jedi: Force Storm 1, it is said that the Bendu monks attended the Tho Yor for a millennium before they finally heard its call, which occurred in 36,453 BBY according to John Ostrander.
- The Wrath of Darth Maul
- Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 75 (JED1, The Jedi)
- Star Wars: Episode I: Racer: The Official Nintendo Player's Guide
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Second Edition, Revised and Expanded
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 311 ("Midi-chlorian")
- Snow Job"—Star Wars Gamer 2 "
- In the dramatis persona of Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void (as shown in the book preview on Amazon.com), the novel's characters are described by their species and gender, and the Talid monk Lha-Mi is called a "Dai Bendu male."
- Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi 0
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- Timeline 15: The Jedi Join the Republic
- Star Wars: Complete Cross-Sections
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 70 ("Bendu monks")
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Archaeology Crew Skill mission: "Secrets of the Bendu"
- Star Wars Episode I: Racer
- Darth Plagueis
- Star Wars: Episode I Racer: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 1 (Galactic map)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 197 ("Donba, Ten-Abu")
- The soundtrack of the video game Star Wars Episode I: Racer features that kind of low-voice chant at the beginning of the podraces that occurred in the Andobi Mountains, land of the Bendu monks.
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 33 ("Podrace")
- Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith Incredible Cross-Sections
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- THE STAR WARS by George Lucas - Rough Draft on Starkiller - The Jedi Bendu Script Site (archived from the original on December 19, 2019)
- Buddhism at its purest: Ladakh's mountain monks on Travelmag (archived from the original on October 21, 2020)
- Buddhism in Tibet on Tranguhk.org (archived from the original on October 21, 2020)
- The Tradition of Tibetan Prayer Flags on The Peace Flag Project (archived from the original on October 21, 2020)
- The Mummified Monk in Samui on Buddhism in Thailand (archived from the original on April 29, 2019)
- Dharmacakra on Oxford Reference (archived from the original)