- Jason Dietzel
Force Organizations: Order of the Dai Bendu
By Jason Deitzel
Founded some time prior to 37,500 BBY, during the Early Hyperspace era, the Order of Dai Bendu was an ancient Force organization that predated the Jedi, Sith, Je’daii and possibly even the Infinite Empire. An early group that witnessed the infancy of space travel, the Order of Dai Bendu got their start on the planet Thape studying numerology.
Known as monks, these scholars would eventually discover the midi-chlorian species responsible for generating the mystic energy flowing through all living things that would eventually be known as the Force. Initially isolated on Thape, the Dai Bendu eventually migrated to the snowy Andobi Mountains on Ando Prime. It is unknown when or why the monks chose to vacate their homeworld.
Around the year 37,453 BBY, Bendu monks discovered a mysterious pyramid partially buried by snow. They were intrigued by it, both for its unknown origins and for its power in the Force. Thinking that they would one day hear its “voice,” the monks spent a millennium meditating and studying the strange object, which they named the Tho Yor.
A millennia after the discovery of the Tho Yor, in the year 36,453 BBY, the monks finally heard its call and entered the pyramid, discovering it to be a starship. The Dai Bendu monks that did enter the ship were transported to another world across the galaxy. On this planet, Tython, it was discovered there were seven other Tho Yor starships that had brought Force-sensitive species there.
The Dai Bendu monks would become influential in the creation of the Je’daii Order, with one of their prominent members, Lha-Mi, becoming the first Temple Master, and helped colonized the rest of the star system. The name of the order itself derived from the Dai Bendu’s language, meaning mystic center. This very naming convention would become the core of Je’daii philosophy.
As the Bendu monks on Tython gradually meshed in with the other Force groups that would make up the Je’daii Order, those left behind on Ando Prime continued their practices for thousands of generations. The Bendu monks became a curiosity for many, given their order bore witness to the development of the Jedi Order, formation of the Republic, and various wars they had with the Sith throughout time. At one point, during the events of the Galactic War, circa 3,643 BBY, the Dai Bendu led a delegation that traveled the Core Worlds, escorting a casket with a meditating monk.
The Order of Dai Bendu would slip into obscurity during the waning days of the Galactic Republic. The Jedi Order had lost much of its historical references to its founding and the great role the Bendu monks played had been reduced to rumor. The monks that did remain on Ando Prime became reclusive and very few remained intrigued by their presence. One of the few, outside of the Dai Bendu, that did possess texts related to the order was none other than Darth Plagueis, the Sith Master of Palpatine.
The Dai Bendu monks sought to live a simple life in small, basic communities, in a spirit of non-confrontation with their neighbors. Oddly enough, they did condone commercialism and were known to advertise podracing and natural resources for profit. Led by a High Priest, the last known leader was Ten-Abu Donba during the Naboo Crisis of 32 BBY. High Priest Ten-Abu Donba became honorary starter for the races.
The order also kept with its earliest tradition of numerology, determining that the number nine represented the beneficent presence of the Force in a unitary galaxy. The sacred appeal to the number nine manifested itself in the Dai Bendu’s holy symbol: one disc conjoined by eight spokes. This symbol, based off the Tho Yor symbol on the pyramid starship, came to be used by the Jedi Order, Emperor Vitiate’s Sith Empire, the Galactic Republic, and the Galactic Empire, which edited the symbol to six spokes.
Lastly, the Dai Bendu based their order around studying the Force through meditation. Their main tool to help in their meditation was chanting, and part of their mystique centered on the scope of their ululations, which ranged from eerie and haunting to guttural and growling. It is unclear if the Dai Bendu survived the purges prescribed by Order 66, but by the year 27 ABY, the New Republic’s database had no record of the Bendu monks or their contributions.
George Lucas was originally going to call the Jedi Knights the Jedi Bendu, but later scrapped the idea. Paying homage to this original moniker, the order was first identified as the Order of Dai Bendu in the video game Star Wars: Episode I Podracer. Their connections to the origins of the Jedi would not be revealed until noted in later reference books like Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, The New Essential Chronology, and The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, and that connection would not bear details until the Dawn of the Jedi series.