The Jedi are a fictional monastic peacekeeping organization from the Star Wars saga. The word 'Jedi' is said to have been borrowed by George Lucas from 'jidaigeki' (Japanese for "period drama" movies about samurai).


Origins of the Order

The Jedi Knights were an order of individuals who had the ability to touch and work alongside the Force, shunning its dark side. The order began tens of thousands of years before the rise of the Galactic Empire. Many ancient and semi-legendary organizations have been proposed as the forerunners of the Jedi Order, such as the Order of Dai Bendu or the Chatos Academy, but no conclusive links have ever been shown. Likewise, the birth planet of the order is unknown. There are many candidates, including such known worlds as Coruscant, Ossus, Corellia, and Utapau, as well as mythic, lost planets such as Had Abbadon, and Ondos.

It is known, however, that the brightest and best philosophers, priests, and warriors came together on a single world long ago to discuss their discoveries involving the enigmatic, mystical Force, and that the concentration of these efforts eventually led to the development of the Jedi Order. —Star Wars Roleplaying Game: Power of the Jedi Sourcebook.

Initially the Jedi was a contemplative order. Over time, however, the order took a more direct and active role in galactic affairs, eventually centralizing themselves on Coruscant in the aftermath of the catastrophic Battle of Ruusan.

"For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before the Empire." — Obi-Wan Kenobi, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

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 at birth or soon after to train in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, where the order was headquartered. From the outset of their training they lived a life of simplicity, adhering to the Jedi Code which forbade material possessions or emotional attachments. (In keeping with the tenets of modesty and humility, the Jedi traditionally wore comfortable long, flowing robes, a tunic, and a cloak, of which generally varied in tones and shades of white and brown.) This training was initially done by a venerable, experienced Jedi until the individual was proficient enough to start the journey of a Jedi. Exceptions were sometimes made, most notably in the case of Anakin Skywalker, but the Jedi found their traditional methods were most successful and were loath to change.

The Force

The Force is an energy field that is generated by all living things and permeates the universe and all things in it. It is clearly indebted to the Od of Baron Carl Reichenbach. Its principles resemble some real-world religions like the Shinto religion of Japan, certain Celtic druidic concepts, and certain tenets of ascetic and mystic Christianity. It also bears a close similarity to the Chinese notion of qigong and many others. The earliest description of this "energy field" would be akin to that of pran, of which pranayama is a scientific practice originating in India and a part of yoga (which predates, and is the basis of chinese martial arts). In truth, the Force is an amalgamation of religions and philosophies, intended as a metaphor for spirituality itself. As in real world spirituality (as understood by George Lucas), there is the potential for a "light" and a "dark" side in each person, and in the universe itself. The "light" would also relate to yogic theories on leading a noble life, present in aphorisms describing noble children as those who follow the light. As explained in the movie Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Jedi get their ability to understand the Force from symbiotic organisms within their bodies called midi-chlorians (an obvious play on mitochondrion and chloroplast). Also known as "the messengers of life," these organisms allow a Jedi to "hear the Force," and it is said that "without them life could not exist" (this statement appears to contradict the Expanded Universe, which depicts the Yuuzhan Vong as completely separate from the Force, but the discrepancy is explained late in the New Jedi Order series.). The higher the midi-chlorian count in their cells, the stronger the Force is with the particular individual. Their presence could be somehow sensed by other Jedi. Anakin Skywalker had a reading of over 20,000 which was even higher than Master Yoda's, leading many, most notably Qui-Gon Jinn, into believing Anakin to be the prophesied "Chosen One."

The Jedi Code

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 code is based heavily on meditations on the Force by the Jedi Master Odan-Urr, a veteran of The Great Hyperspace War.

Knights of the Old Republic inserts this penultimate line: There is no chaos; there is harmony.

Structure of the Order

Jedi ranks

Members of the order progressed through five to six basic levels of rank.

  • Youngling – an unofficial title, this refers to a child with Force potential. More accurately, Youngling is Galactic Basic slang for children of any sort. At a very young age, the Jedi initiates leave their homes and are assigned to a group for training. If a youngling is not chosen by any Jedi Knight to be their Padawan by 13 years of age, the youngling is placed into another, lesser role in the Jedi Service Corps. Depending on where the student's talents lie, this may be the Agricultural Corps, the Medical Corps, or the Exploration Corps.
  • Padawan – an apprentice who undergoes intensive training under a Jedi Knight after graduating from the academy.
  • Jedi Knight – a disciplined Padawan may become a fully trained Jedi once they have completed "the trials." This is the most common rank of Jedi, hence, the title is also used, mostly by non-Jedi, to refer to any member of the order that has at least passed the compulsory tests required by the Jedi Council.
  • Jedi Master – a Jedi Knight may become a Master after being elected to the Jedi Council (Anakin was made part of the council by Palpatine, but not given the rank of Master because he was not elected). This title can also be achieved through the performance of extraordinary deeds or self-proclamation, though the latter is extremely rare. However, it is important to note that simply training a Padawan to Knight status is not merit enough to become a Jedi Master.
  • Jedi Grandmaster – During the Clone Wars this rank was bestowed upon Master Yoda because of the fact that he was the Jedi's master strategist. His legendary patience and ability to foresee future events made it possible for him to claim victory in almost every battle; if not immediately, he was endowed with the rank after a span of a few decades. Mace Windu held this rank prior to the war, wherein Yoda and he are the only known Jedi who achieve this status.
  • Jedi Spirit / Force ghost – a speculative sixth level and is characterized as an apparition of a deceased Jedi who has become one with the Force.
Missing image
A scene from the recent re-released version of Return of the Jedi with Hayden Christensen in place of Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, with Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi appearing before Luke in Return of the Jedi.

During the original trilogy, it was believed that all Jedi who died became one with the Force, their bodies vanishing, and then could return as apparitions at will, so that they could help those in need of their guidance. This would happen even to fallen Jedi who repented at the end of their lives, such as Darth Vader and the Jedi Ulic Qel-Droma (from the Expanded Universe). In the latter case, it is unclear if Vader's body actually vanishes, since Luke Skywalker is seen putting together a funeral for his suit, but it is assumed that the organic part of his body has dissapeared.

Many questions arose during The Phantom Menace, when Qui-Gon Jinn's body did not vanish after his duel with Darth Maul, and instead was burned on a Jedi funeral pyre. In Revenge of the Sith it is made known that "becoming one with the Force" is not in fact what happens to every Jedi, but only a recently discovered ability. Qui-Gon's spirit guided Yoda and Obi-Wan, and revealed to them the secret of retaining one's individuality after becoming one with the Force. Presumably, Darth Vader did not learn of this ability, which explains his surprise when Obi-Wan's body disappears when he is slain on the Death Star in Episode IV.

A Jedi may have only one apprentice at a time, and is required to promote the current apprentice before taking another. Master Yoda was seen training several younglings in Attack of the Clones, but they were receiving generic Jedi teachings from him rather than being trained as Padawans.

Jedi types

(It should be noted that this is from the d20-style Star Wars role-playing games; i.e. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic)

There are three types of Jedi: the guardian, the sentinel, and the consular. Selection of a Jedi's type takes place at the transition to padawan. It must be noted however that the role of a Jedi is/was chosen by their beliefs, capabilities, aptitudes, and what role they wished to play in the universe.

  • Guardians focus on martial training and combat. Like all Jedi, they are keepers of the peace, acting as a kind of special police force for the Republic. Notable guardians include Obi-Wan Kenobi, Mace Windu, Anakin Skywalker, and Luke Skywalker. Guardians are generally signified by blue lightsabers.
  • Consulars possess great knowledge of the Force but rarely enter combat. Consulars are the primary scholars and diplomats of the Order, often becoming instructors. The most famous of these is Yoda. Following her training, Leia Organa Solo also became a consular. Consulars are generally signified by green lightsabers, although Luke Skywalker's lightsaber built between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi was green, as a notable exception.

Other exceptions include Qui Gon Jinn, Quinlan Vos, and Luminara Unduli

  • Sentinels strike a balance between the first two types and possess admirable combat skills with some extensive knowledge of the Force. These are often dispatched to regions across the galaxy to work as ambassadors and investigators for unusual concentrations of the Force. Bastila Shan and Visas Marr are examples of this type. Sentinels are generally signified by yellow lightsabers.

In addition to the three basic Jedi types, some Jedi with special talents at helping others choose to specialize as Healers. Healers use the Force in conjunction with medical and psychiatric training to help allieviate illness, pain, and suffering wherever they encounter it. They are sometimes assigned to medcenters or mobile medical units on various worlds. Barriss Offee is an example of a healer who worked in a Republic Mobile Surgery Unit during the latter part of the Clone Wars.

Also during the time of the Old Republic there were watchmen, a title that was given to a Jedi Master that connoted his or her role as overseer of a particular star system or segment of the galaxy. This was arranged through a loose agreement with the Old Republic. The watchman's main charge was to maintain harmony and justice. The Republic granted watchmen the authority to operate autonomously in order to right wrongs and deal with disturbances in the Force that occured outside the purview of local laws.

The Three Pillars of Jedi Strength

Political organization

Eventually the Jedi formed a central political entity called the Jedi Council which acted as a governing body for the order and an advisory board for the Old Republic Senate. The Jedi Council could only have 12 members at a time.

Among other tasks, the Jedi were eventually responsible for law enforcement and peacekeeping in the Galactic Republic (though they would not be considered soldiers until the time of the Clone Wars). At the time of the Clone Wars, in the twilight years of the Galactic Republic, they would act as generals, soldiers and advisors in the conflict. To that end they used the Force and extensive training to become extremely formidable in battle. Their traditional weapon was the lightsaber which, in the hands of a skilled wielder, could be more than a match for most opponents, even those that are armed with ranged weapons. A common task for the Jedi is to construct their own lightsaber, after collecting special crystals which would form the core of the lightsaber.

The Dark Side of the Force

The power of the Force does not come without a price, for with these abilities come great temptation to misuse them, and emotions such as hate, anger, and fear can cause a Jedi to be overcome by the dark side of the Force. The dark side is the easier path and at first can seem more powerful. In the words of Yoda, it is not actually more powerful, but only quicker and more seductive. When one goes over to the dark side, there is little hope of recovery.

The consequences of a Jedi falling to the dark side of the Force are quite high, not only for the fallen individual, but for many others as well. Such Jedi are normally referred to as Dark Jedi. Some Dark Jedi also become members of the Sith Order, and are vastly superior. Dark Jedi always use red lightsabers.

The Sith lords were said to have come into existence nearly 25,000 years BBY. Begun by a heretical Jedi called Xendor, this sect embraced the dark side of the Force as a means to power, and was opposed to the philosophy embraced by the Jedi, that is, service and justice in the defense of the common good. This caused a split with the Jedi Order and resulted in several galactic wars over the millennia, including the Great Hyperspace War and at least three Sith Wars. One thousand years BBY, the Sith Order was believed to have finally been destroyed at the Battle of Ruusan. One Dark Lord, Darth Bane, survived, however, and reformed the order, restarting the tradition apparently begun by Darth Revan of passing down the name "Darth" to his successors, naming both master and apprentice as a Dark Lord of the Sith and beginning the "rule of two." This rule would allow the Sith to remain hidden from the Jedi and would help prevent the kind of civil war within the Sith's own ranks that had led to the original Sith Empire's destruction and almost to that of the Order. For the next 1,000 years, the Sith Order carried on in concealment from the Jedi, biding their time until conditions in the galaxy were right for them to resurface.

It should be noted that, when Anakin Skywalker - as Darth Vader - cast Emperor Palpatine down the shaft in the second Death Star, the tradition of Sith knowledge being passed down through two individuals generation to generation was disrupted. Some Dark Jedi possessing varying degrees of Sith knowledge have since attempted to restart the Order of the Dark Lords of the Sith and met with minor successes.

Recent history of the Jedi

The Jedi-Sith conflict resumes

In 32 BBY, the presence of the Sith once again became known to the Jedi. Two Sith Lords, the master Darth Sidious, and the apprentice Darth Maul, supported the blockade of Naboo. After Darth Maul was killed, the Jedi knew that somewhere in the galaxy there was still one member of the Sith active, but they were unaware of the identity of Sidious. During the next ten years, former Jedi Count Dooku fell to the dark side and became the new apprentice Darth Tyranus. Tyranus and Sidious arranged the Clone Wars.

At approximately the same time toward the end of the Clone Wars, the Jedi discovered that Chancellor Palpatine was in fact Darth Sidious, and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker submitted to the Dark Side. Anakin became known as Darth Vader, Sidious's final apprentice. During a battle with his master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin suffered grievous injuries. After the fight, the majority of Anakin's body had to be replaced with mechanical implants, including a breathing apparatus to keep him alive.

The Dark Times and the Empire, the Return of the Jedi

At the onset of the Galactic Civil War, the Jedi were almost completely wiped out through the actions of followers of the Dark Side, led by Sidious/Palpatine (now Emperor) and Vader. Vader led the Great Jedi Purge, wiping out nearly all of his former fellow Jedi. Obi Wan Kenobi (Anakin's own teacher), and Yoda were among the survivors featured in the original trilogy. The Expanded Universe novels indicate that a few other Jedi aside from those featured in the films also survived the purge. Other survivors include Empatojayos Brand and Vima Da Boda, neither of whom are referenced in the movies.

The novels written after the original trilogy indicate that the Empire took steps to exterminate the Jedi family members and supporters as well as the Jedi themselves. Corran Horn's grandfather was a Corellian Jedi named Nejaa Halcyon, who had died in the Clone Wars. Halcyon's friend Rostek Horn married Halcyon's wife, adopted Corran's father Valin "Hal" Horn, and altered the records concerning the Halcyon family. He did this to protect Hal and his mother from the Empire's Jedi hunters. Hal kept the knowledge of Corran's true grandfather from him, because revealing that knowledge would have made Corran a target as well. As a result, Corran only learned of his true heritage when Luke Skywalker discovered his past, and shared that discovery with Corran.

The Emperor also trained a number of "Hands," or those who had the potential to use the Force as his personal agents. Through the Force, he was able to relay orders to these agents. Mara Jade was one of his agents. She had been discovered to be Force sensitive at a young age, and was taken by the Emperor for training.

The actions of Luke Skywalker and his relationship with the Force were a principal plot device in the films. As a sign of how desperate things had become, Luke was taken into the Jedi fold as a young adult as opposed to during infancy, or even childhood (as Anakin had been).

After the Galactic Civil War

In the novels set after the Galactic Civil War, Luke's main task was to reestablish the Jedi Order by training a new generation of Jedi Knights. It was not an easy task. Because the Emperor had wished to completely destroy the order, almost all information concerning the Jedi had been destroyed. Only a few histories remained, and they were propaganda pieces used to paint the Jedi in an unfavorable light. Almost all the material on instructing Jedi was also eliminated, save a few documents on how to turn potential Jedi to the Dark Side of the Force. Four years after the death of the Emperor at Endor, Luke discovered the wreck of the Chu'unthor on the planet Dathomir. The Chu'unthor was a starship that had served as a mobile Jedi academy. Dathomir was the home of Force sensitive "Witches," who were the descendants of a fallen Jedi banished to that world. Master Yoda had left the instruction materials from the ship behind with the rest of the ship. Four hundred years later, after defeating the Witches that had fallen to the Dark Side, one of the natives gave Luke the instruction materials that she had kept safely since the time of the crash. Due to Luke's lack of knowledge with the old ways of the Jedi Order the new generation of Jedi were very unorthodox. He established an academy in order to teach the way of the Jedi to others. The academy was established in the old temples on Yavin 4, which the Rebels had used as a base until after the Battle of Yavin. This new academy used a system very different from the "one student, one master" system used by the old order. The new order also differed from the old in that Luke allowed his students to have personal possessions and had no rule against a Jedi having emotional attachments to friends and family, which had been forbidden by the old order. Accepted students were also taken into the order at a much older age than had been the case previously. Most members were already well into adulthood before they began training.

What Luke did not know was that Yavin 4 had once been a base for the Sith Lord Exar Kun during the Great Sith War. He was unaware that Kun's spirit had been trapped in the temples all that time. As a result, Kun was able to influence two of Luke's students. The first, Gantoris, under the tutelage of Exar Kun, secertly constructed a multi-jeweled lightsaber before being killed by the dark lord's spirit. The other student, Kyp Durron, eventually fell to the Dark Side for a time while under Kun's influence. Kyp's actions resulted with the destruction of several star systems by the Sun Crusher. Eventually, the students at the academy were able to destroy Kun's spirit. Freed of Kun's influence, Kyp surrendered, returned to the Light Side of the Force, and became one of the first new Jedi Masters.

Luke eventually turned the academy into a center that would provide basic training for potential Jedi. He began pairing Jedi who had gone through that training with a more experienced Jedi, much like the master / apprentice system used in the old order.

The New Jedi Order

The New Jedi Order grew slowly but steadily. Some Jedi from the first class Luke taught - such as Kyp Durron - became Jedi Masters. The order eventually became large enough that Luke Skywalker considered reinstating the Jedi Council. However, an extragalactic Force-dead alien species, the Yuuzhan Vong, declared war on the galaxy. Many Jedi fell while fighting this new threat, but the order did survive the war and continued to grow in strength. One of the Jedi casualties of this war was Anakin Solo, the youngest son of Han Solo and Leia Organa-Solo. Before his death, it was widely felt that Anakin would eventually become one of the greatest Jedi of his generation, and that he would eventually take Luke's place. Since Anakin's death, it has been assumed that Luke Skywalker's son, Ben Skywalker, has the most force potential of any living being.

After the war with the Yuuzhan Vong was over, Luke realized that the order would have to further adapt in order to survive. His experiences had led him to believe that the Force was not rigidly divided into a light and a dark side. Strong emotions, including anger, were not intrinsically evil - instead it was the intentions of the Force user that mattered the most. Luke came to believe that nearly everyone, regardless of their heritage, had some ability to touch and use the Force. He also felt that individual Jedi (and other Force users) would need to discover their own paths: that some could be called to contemplative life, while others would feel a need to take a more active role in galactic affairs, like the old-style Jedi. Because the Jedi had no single goal, he felt the Jedi Order as a whole should remain carefully aloof of its allegiance to the Galactic Alliance or any succeeding government.

Interestingly, many of Luke's realizations would have been considered heresy during the time of the original Jedi Order. Luke's opinions on the nature of the Light and Dark sides had previously been stated by Darth Revan: "The best Jedi are ones that are still human beings."

Major Jedi

Ancient Jedi

Pre-Ruusan Old Republic Jedi

Post-Ruusan Old Republic Jedi

The New Jedi Order

See also

External links

da:Jediridder de:Jedi es:Jedi fr:Jedi hu:Jedi it:Jedi nl:Jedi ja:ジェダイ pl:Jedi pt:Jedi sv:Jedi th:เจได


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