By Silver2467 7 Comments
This could develop into an infrequent but potentially long series of blogs I will write here. There are numerous misconceptions surrounding the Force, which I find can be refuted very simply if only more sources were looked over. The intrinsic dimensions of the Force are fascinating to read about, for several reasons, such as their origins in various religions and mythologies; the countless philosophies and outlooks on the Force that have been elucidated on throughout the lore; the cause-and-effect relationship between the ethereal realms of the Force and the mundane realm of the galaxy; the questions of purpose, value, morality, and all things pertaining to life that are encompassed by studying the Force; the growth of understanding about the Force that lends itself to character development; the aspects of the Force that by themselves generate plot points; and so on. The Force is possibly my favorite part about Star Wars, both in the movies and the EU, simply because of how much material there is to it to analyze and compare. For this reason, I want to offer some clarity regarding the facets of the Force.
The subject I want to cover here is the prophecy of the Sith'ari.
Sith'ari is a word meaning "Lord" or "overlord." It was first attributed to King Adas by the Sith people he reigned over a few millennia before the formation of the Republic. Since his death, the Sith people foretold of another Sith'ari. There were very particular tenets to qualification of the Sith'ari, which are explained as follows:
--Taken from Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
"I know the Jedi myth of Mortis, of a Chosen One who will destroy the dark side and bring balance to the Force. The Sith have their own prophecy. Since the time of King Adas, they have foretold the coming of a perfect being—the Sith'ari.
The abbatar around my neck translates the term as "overlord." Yet it is more accurate to consider the Sith'ari a god, as the Sith Purebloods believe. While some among the Kissai priests deem that the prophecy began and ended with Adas, many more await the Sith'ari's return.
It has not escaped us that we could claim the Sith'ari mantle and exert even more power over Sith Space. Yet such a move could backfire among the superstitious. Not even Ajunta Pall is so careless.
The prophecy of the Sith'ari has been passed through verbal tradition. It is too sacred to be inscribed on a scroll's parchment. From the Kissai, I have learned its essence:
The Sith'ari will be free from limits.
The Sith'ari will lead the Sith and destroy them.
The Sith'ari will raise the Sith from death and make them stronger than before.
I admire the first tenet, because breaking chains is the essence of the dark side and the foundation of my Sith Code. Improvement through sacrifice and rebirth resonates among these people who prize breeding and alchemy."
This section from Book of Sith was written by Sorzus Syn, and she of course adds her own commentary in addition to the precepts. So who is this Sith'ari? To answer that question, the prerequisites have to be noted. The Sith'ari must meet three qualifications:
- be free from limitations
- lead and destroy the Sith
- reinvent the dead Sith and make them stronger than ever before
Who meets these qualifications? The generally accepted answer is Darth Bane. But is Bane the correct answer? I have heard in the past other Sith being touted as the Sith'ari, but the baseless standing of those arguments is always self-evident. No ancient Sith had ever been free from limitations, destroyed the Sith, and then remade them stronger than ever before, much less met the other qualifications described elsewhere. So is Bane the correct answer, or is this a misconception? Bane had, after all, destroyed and recreated the Sith Order at the last Battle of Ruusan.
--Taken from The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
Sith'ari This was the name used by the ancient Sith to describe a perfect being who would rise to power and bring balance to the Force. According to prophecy, the Sith'ari would rise up and destroy the Sith, but in the process would return to lead the Sith and make them stronger than ever before. The first being known to have carried the title was the ancient King Adas, who unified the Sith tribes on Korriban some 3,000 years before the formation of the Republic. After Adas's death at the hands of Rakatan invaders, many pretenders claimed to hold the title of Sith'ari, but none of them was able to restore the Sith to power until the discovery of a man named Dessel. Dessel was trained on Korriban during the years leading up to the Battle of Ruusan; he eventually became Darth Bane, the man who reinvented the Sith and established the Rule of Two.
And all of what the Encyclopedia said is true. Preceding the Battle of Ruusan, Bane had come to believe that the Brotherhood of Darkness, whom he was trained by at the Korriban Sith academy, were denying the Sith Order a true inheritance. He believed that the dark side of the Force was not a "fire," as he put it, which can ignite power in anyone and continue to be passed liberally to any adept. He argued instead that the Force is a "venom," which if "poured into many cups, it loses its potency until it becomes so diluted it is merely an irritant. Yet pour those cups back into a single vessel and you will have the power to stop a Krayt dragon's heart." This was the foundation of Bane's philosophy and his new Sith Order, which operated under his Rule of Two, which dictated that there can only ever be two Sith Lords: a master and an apprentice. The master will occupy all of the power ("venom") of the dark side until the apprentice supersedes him or her, at which point the apprentice will kill the master and transfer the master's power into themselves. In this way, only one Sith will, in Bane's words, "embody the power," while the other "craves it." This view of the Force is tinted by a dark side perspective which looks to its own benefit. While the light and dark sides of the Force are not inherently good or evil, because the Force itself is not good or evil, the light and dark sides of individuals can be delineated that way. The light side, both of the Force and of people, promotes selfless service to life and the Force out of genuine care for the status of life and the Force. The dark side, on the other hand, promotes egocentric service to self-aggrandizement out of fear for the status of self without absolute domination over life and the Force. Of course then Bane would naturally see fit to limit the number of practitioners of the dark side, because this affords him the opportunity to horde all power for himself. But primarily, he did this because he saw a pattern in the history of Sith societies collapsing themselves because of infighting. The Brotherhood of Darkness' answer to the problem of infighting was to make all Sith Lords equal while allowing there to be any number of Sith Lords. But Bane not only saw a problem with the number of Sith, he saw a problem with the idea of equality between Sith, as he had come to believe that equality was a lie. The Brotherhood believed in a "rule of the strong" with respects to the Sith conquering the galaxy but overlooked that principle when it came to the Sith Order themselves. Part of why Bane learned from the Brotherhood in the first place was because of their "rule of the strong."
Bane accepted this ideology because of his upbringing. He grew up as a cortosis miner on Apatros, which is a very harsh planet to live on, with his abusive father. Since he lived during the New Sith Wars and since the Republic bought Cortosis from Apatros, Bane had heard many visitors talk about the war. The Republic travelers who arrived on Apatros would talk about the Jedi and the Republic's collective vow of defense against injustice and upholding equality, while simultaneously talking about the atrocities of the Sith armies. However, because of the adversities in his life, Bane had no faith in their platitudes, as he said, "I wasn't convinced that the Sith were monsters. Bad things happen on both sides during any war. As far as I knew, the Sith were people, just like you. Just like me. And I didn't go along with the Jedi belief that all beings are created equal. After all, some beings are smarter or stronger than others. And for all that Jedi talk about helping those in need, it didn't change the fact that a Jedi had never saved me from any injustice." So it was easy for Bane to deny the Brotherhood's proposal of equality among Sith Lords and instead follow a more accurate "rule of the strong," which didn't contradict itself by the strong ruling the galaxy but not other Sith. Instead, Bane had the strongest Sith rule the Sith Order as well (a maxim he called the "Rule of Two").
The reason Sith believe the rule of the strong, as Palpatine described in more grandiloquent detail in The Weakness of Inferiors, is because the weak "endanger their own lives and the lives of others through poor decisions, reckless behavior, and simple inability to engineer the reality of their ambitious dreams. They are like children, crying in frustration because they do not comprehend their own limitations. These weaklings need structure—to be shown their place in the existing social order. It is left to the wise and powerful to provide that structure in order for civilization to survive and thrive in the galaxy."
Sidious adopted this system of thinking through his own experiences as well. Growing up, Palpatine recognized that he was different for a reason he couldn't identify yet (which he later learned was because of his Force sensitivity) and as a result had immense potential. But his father, Cosinga, who was involved in Naboo's politics, was content to maintain the remedial financial and political position his noble family had. Cosinga was also displeased in Palpatine because Palpatine's siblings behaved the way Cosinga wanted them to, while Palpatine disagreed with Cosinga and committed offenses which could create scandals to his house. But most importantly Cosinga believed Palpatine could achieve greater accomplishments than he himself could and as a result resented his son for his superiority. Palpatine believed that his father was stifling his potential, believing himself to be innately extraordinary, while Cosinga was simply an "inferior" who "endangered [his] own life and the lives of others through poor decisions, reckless behavior, and simple inability to engineer the reality of [his] ambitious dreams." All of this contributed to Palpatine agreeing with the Banite doctrine that the weak exist to serve the strong, and since the Banite Sith believe themselves to be the strongest, they conclude that they not only could rule, they are entitled to rule.
With this, Bane eliminated the contradictions. Bane was fully aware of the fact that to follow this school of thought to its logical conclusion, a Sith had to be willing to be killed by another Sith if that other Sith was more powerful than he was. So he did. He founded a new Sith Order wherein the student would learn from the master until that student exceeded the power of the master and killed him or her. If the student failed, then another student would be selected until one supplanted the master and inducted an apprentice of their own to restart the cycle. The Rule of Two produced the most powerful Sith Lords in the history of the galaxy, and it eventually succeeded, because the Banite Sith did overtake the whole galaxy, unlike all previous Sith Orders.
So Bane characterizes the second and third tenets of the Sith'ari prophecy. According to Sorzus, the Sith'ari would be considered a deity among later generations of Sith Lords. Did this happen? Yes. So Bane meets that qualification as well.
--Taken from Darth Plagueis
The aptly named Darth Bane, who had redefined the Sith by limiting their number and operating from concealment, had mined cortosis as a youth on Apatros long before embracing the tenets of the dark side. In the thousand years since his death, Bane had become deified; the powers attributed to him, legendary.
But what about some of the other tenets? Was Bane free of restrictions? Actually, no. In fact, Bane was the weakest of the Banite Sith, not the most powerful or the most free. Among his limitations, he himself admitted that he had no propensity for Sith sorcery all the while declaring it a purer expression of the dark side. In conjunction, Bane stated that all Force sensitives are inclined toward certain practices and less so toward others.
--Taken from Rule of Two
"A rare few have a natural affinity for the dark side itself. They can delve into the depths of the Force and summon arcane energies to twist and warp the world around them. They can invoke the ancient rituals of the Sith; they can conjure power and unleash terrible spells and dark magics."
"Is that my gift?" Zannah asked, barely able to contain her excitement. "Am I a Sith sorcerer?"
"You have the potential," Bane told her. From inside his robes he produced a thin leather-bound manuscript. "Hidden deep inside the Holocron, I discovered a list of powerful spells. I transcribed them into this tome. They will help you focus and channel your power for maximum effect...but only if you study them carefully."
"I will, Master" Zannah promised, her eyes gleaming as she reached out to take the book from his hands.
"My ability to guide and teach you in the ways of sorcery are limited," Bane warned her. "My talents lie in another direction. To unleash your full potential you will have to do much of the study and research on your own. It will be...perilous."
--Taken from Darth Plagueis
Darth Bane had referred to sorcery as one of the purest expressions of the dark side of the Force, and yet he hadn’t been able to harness those energies with near the skill as had his onetime apprentice Zannah.
How can a supposed "perfect" being destined to be free of limitations concede to his boundaries? How can this "perfect being free of limits" be succeeded by an apprentice who surpassed his power? It stands to question then whether Bane adequately fulfilled the obligatory guidelines of the Sith'ari prophecy. Sidious remarked on this point as well, acknowledging Bane's impediments.
--Taken from Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
"My Master suggested, perhaps spuriously, that Darth Bane fulfilled this prophecy by annihilating the old Sith order and establishing the Rule of Two. Yet Bane was not free of restrictions. As my plans unfold, I grow ever closer to unlimited power."
Which then begs the question: Who has the merits to claim the title of Sith'ari? As has been noted by the Encyclopedia, there were many pretenders to it. Among them were all of the authors whose magnum opuses were included in the Book of Sith. Daniel Wallace, who was among the developers for Book of Sith's publication, said that it was a running joke in the sourcebook that all of the Sith believed themselves to be the Sith'ari. Sorzus Syn even writes, "Though I have never put my faith in farseeing, I remain convinced the Force called me here. Perhaps I am the Sith'ari." So it seems obvious that every Sith, wanting to affirm themselves the last and ultimate Sith Lord, professes to be the Sith'ari purely for the purposes of their own self-aggrandizement. But none of the pretenders come even remotely close to the qualifications, not like Bane. Who else is there then? One of the claimers to the title was Sidious.
--Taken from Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
"Throughout the eras, the Sith foretold of a being who would destroy the Order and rebuild it stronger than before. I do not care about ancient prophecies. The approval of the dead is meaningless. Yet it is clear that the Sith'ari could be no other than me."
--Taken from Darth Plagueis
“You may be wondering: when did he begin to change?
“The truth is that I haven’t changed. As we have clouded the minds of the Jedi, I clouded yours. Never once did I have any intention of sharing power with you. I needed to learn from you; no more, no less. To learn all of your secrets, which I trusted you would eventually reveal. But what made you think that I would need you after that? Vanity, perhaps; your sense of self-importance. You’ve been nothing more than a pawn in a game played by a genuine Master.
My first response to this would be, "Palpatine's just full of himself, as usual. This is the same guy who said, 'I am the dark side.'" But let's evaluate Sidious' merits. Objective sources and character feats tell us that he is the most powerful Sith Lord who ever lived and is the dark side's purest expression. While this would probably be categorized as self-deluded boasting rather than a feasible goal, the Emperor recorded his plan to increase the raw destructive capacity of his Force Storms to outmatch even that of the Death Star superlaser. Of course, this goal was never realized, because he was defeated before it could ever come to fruition (assuming it could come to fruition). His knowledge of the dark side transcends that of any other dark sider before him, and the quantity of powers that he has been attested to know is greater than any previous Sith as well. As the last Sith Master in the Banite line, he embodied the dark side to a more potent degree than any other Sith Lord before him during the Rise of the Empire era (until he died physically, releasing the dark side from his physical form and dissolving the Empire, which restored the balance of the Force). He and Plagueis exercised more command over the Force, life, and the galaxy at large than any Sith had before when they enlarged the Force's imbalance. While I am apprehensive about labeling any Force sensitive as "free of restrictions," Palpatine approaches it more closely than any other Sith Lord.
What about destroying and remaking the Sith? Bane completed that rather spectacularly, which is why he is usually considered the Sith'ari. Has Sidious done anything comparable? While this is not as ceremonious or dramatic as Bane's killing of the Brotherhood, Palpatine actually did expire the Rule of Two and, by extension, the Banite system. And why shouldn't he? He was, after all, the Sith Lord who initiated and ruled a Sith-conquered galaxy. The Rule of Two was designed from the start to consummate with the most powerful Sith Lord possible, a Sith Lord who would be strong enough to lead the Sith in ruling the galaxy. Once that had been effected, the Rule of Two had served its purpose. After Sidious named himself Emperor, he kept Vader in his service and even attempted to teach Vader how to regain his potential. But since Vader seemed unable to reach his full potential again, Palpatine also accepted other initiates who could potentially outmatch Vader. The reason the Emperor still had formal Sith apprentices (the Dark Side Adepts are not formal Sith apprentices, merely Dark Jedi) is twofold: 1) to reverence Bane's doctrine and 2) to aid him in ruling the Empire. However, although Sidious would take apprentices, he would never take a successor.
--Taken from The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
The Sith Order, in hiding for a millennium, had awaited the birth of one who was powerful enough to return the Order to prominence. Darth Sidious was the fulfillment of that prophecy, capable of exacting the Sith's revenge on the Jedi for having nearly eradicated the practitioners of the dark side of the Force.
--Taken from Rolling Stone #975
He's not Satan, he just goes down to the corner and gets Satan's cigarettes.
You got it. And when he finds out Luke is his son, his first impulse is to figure out a way of getting him to join him to kill the Emperor. That's what Siths do! He tries it with anybody he thinks might be more powerful, which is what the Emperor was looking for in the first place: somebody who would be more powerful than he was and could help him rule the universe. But Obi-Wan screwed that up by cutting of his arms and legs and burning him up. From then on, he wasn't as strong as the Emperor—he was like Darth Maul or Count Dooku. He wasn't what he was supposed to become. But the son could become that.
--Taken from Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader
Envy, hatred, betrayal... They were essential to mastering the dark side, but only as a means of distancing oneself from all common notions of morality in the interest of a higher goal. Only when Sidious had understood this fully had he acted on it, killing his Master while he slept.
Unlike Plagueis, Sidious knew better than to sleep.
More important, by the time Vader was capable of becoming a risk to his Mastery, Sidious would be fully conversant with the secrets Plagueis had spent a lifetime seeking—the power of life over death. There would be no need to fear Vader. No real reason to have an apprentice, except to honor the tradition Darth Bane had resurrected a millennium earlier.
The ancient Sith had been utter fools to believe that power could be shared by thousands. The power of the dark side should be shared only by two; one to embody it, the other to crave it.
Vader's transformation meant that Sidious, too, was able to focus once more on important matters. With Vader in his place, Sidious could now devote himself to intensifying his authority over the Senate and the outlying star systems, and to rooting out and vanquishing any who posed a threat to the Empire.
He had brought peace to the galaxy. Now he meant to rule it as he saw fit—with a hand as strong and durable as one of Vader's prostheses. Crushing any opponents who rose up. Instilling fear in any who thought to obstruct or thwart him.
Vader would prove to be a powerful apprentice, at least until a more suitable one was found. And a powerful weapon, as well, at least until a more powerful one was readied...
Instead, Sidious established what he called the Rule of One (not Krayt's ignorant Rule of One, which is more akin to Kaan's short-sighted Brotherhood of Darkness). The One Sith implement meant that once he controlled the galaxy, he would control it personally forever, and no one else would replace him, which is why the Emperor structured the New Order to be impossible to subsist without his influence.
More than a century before, when Tenebrous had been but a Sith apprentice himself, the magnificent computational power of his Bith brain had led him far beyond the simplistic Force studies imposed on him by his Master. He had always been far too intelligent to be seduced by the traditional Sith metaphysical twaddle of dark destiny and the witless fantasy of endless war against the equally witless Jedi Order. Soon he had confirmed to his own satisfaction that the dark side of the Force, far from being some malevolent mystic sentience bent on spreading suffering throughout the Galaxy, was in truth merely an energy source, and a tool with which he could impose his will upon reality. It was a sort of natural amplifier he could use to multiply the effectiveness of his many useful abilities.
None of which was more useful than his matchless intellect.
Like many Sith before him, he had turned his powers toward knowledge of the future. But unlike any Sith before him, he had the enormous brain of his people, which combined sheer brute processing power with a level of analytic precision simply beyond the capacity of any other species. The future was always in motion, and while other Sith always struggled to foresee the faintest, least specific hints of what was to come, Tenebrous had no need to see the future.
He could calculate it.
While still merely an apprentice, his analysis had shown him the inevitable end of the Banite Sith and its preposterous Rule of Two. His calculations plainly indicated the coming of a shadow so vast it would darken the galaxy entirely—so vast it would mark the end of both Jedi and Sith as the universe had known them heretofore. The rise of the shadow would be the end of history itself.
Tenebrous had not the slightest doubt that the entire galaxy would measure time according to its arrival. Events would be marked by how long they had preceded the shadow, or how long after it they followed.
Though the exact nature of the great shadow remained occult, the remorseless logic of his extrapolation detailed the coming destruction of the Banite system, and the rise of what would become known as the "One Sith." One Sith! The conclusion was so obvious as to require no confirmation: one single Sith Lord would arise of such power that he'd have no need of any apprentice nor fear the Jedi. He would take and hold the galaxy by his own hand alone. Without an apprentice—or a Jedi Order—to destroy him, the One Sith would rule forever!
A heady prospect, with only a single drawback: Tenebrous was not to be that Sith Lord. His own death was clearly foretold, entirely inevitable, and it would precede the shadow by decades.
--Taken from The Tenebrous Way
Now Tenebrous touched upon his apprentice's powers of foresight, which were also vastly more developed than Tenebrous had believed. For a moment, Tenebrous found his perception cast far forward in time—to Plagueis' own death at the hands of his apprentice, who was himself only visible as a smear of darkness...
--Taken from Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
"As Darth Bane instituted the Rule of Two, so I will begin the Rule of One. The Sith Will now be sustained by one—one to hold the power and others, talented in the Force, to execute my will as dark side agents."
From this, we can conclude that Palpatine had abolished Bane's creed and ratified his own amendment after the Rule of Two had outlived its function. So in a sense, Sidious did destroy the old Sith Order. In killing Darth Plagueis, Sidious carried out the last execution and usurpation of a Banite master by his apprentice in the Sith Order, and after the Empire rose to prominence, he did away with the Banite line altogether. (I will address that Plagueis and Tenebrous had already believed the Rule of Two was no longer necessary before Sidious did, but Sidious was the last of them to believe that, not to mention he survived Plagueis anyway. In killing Plagueis, Sidious also dismantled Plagueis' system, which was that two Sith, Plagueis and Sidious, should be equal confederates in ruling the universe.) While all of this is not so titanic an undertaking as Bane destroying the Brotherhood, it could fit the second and third adages of the Sith'ari prophecy. Was Sidious ever seen as a deity the way Bane was? Not exactly in that manner or at least not very often, no. The Emperor, however, was seen as the very face of Authority over the entirety of the galaxy. This is somewhat ambiguous though.
Another thought: The Encyclopedia claims that the Sith'ari would bring balance to the Force, no doubt an offset to the Jedi's Chosen One prophecy. But did Bane do anything of the sort? Not at all. In fact, Bane hardly affected the balance at all. Plagueis and especially Sidious were the ones who tipped the scales toward the dark side. It has to be noted though that the Sith actually imbalanced the Force, not sustained its balance, but that tenet is of course written from the perspective of a Sith. To a Sith, imbalancing the Force toward the dark side could be seen as balancing it, because the Sith see little worth in balance beyond simply a restriction to overcome and because the Sith could well see the balance of the Force as whatever they decide it is due to their self-proclaimed sovereignty over the Force itself. However, this standard is more open to interpretation than many others. Is "bringing balance to the Force" done from a Sith's perspective or from a perspective of fact? Because the fact is that none of the Banite Sith helped the balance; they destabilized it. So really, this could serve to accredit the possibility that there is no Sith'ari or that portions of the Sith'ari prophecy are unreliable.
With all of that said, who is the Sith'ari? Is it Bane? Bane is the likely candidate due to his reconstruction of the Sith Order and his deification, but he fails to uphold the very first listed statute of the Sith'ari prophecy, which is to be free of limitations. What about Palpatine? He more closely reflects the "freedom from limits" tenet, and in a way, he did somewhat remake the Sith Order after the formation of the Empire. But he was not considered a "god," per se, and the whole issue of "bringing balance to the Force" needs more specificity for me to determine how either Bane or Sidious could meet that qualification. So the Sith'ari is...unclear. To be honest, I have some personal doubts about the legitimacy of the prophecy to begin with. No Sith is ever truly free of any and all restrictions, not even the most powerful among them, because while Sith submit that they have subdued the dark side, the dark side in return subdues them. No Sith has ever upheld the balance of the Force either because their deliberations will directly oppose the Force's will (though there is some leniency for different translations on that). If I had to pick one, I would say Bane is the Sith'ari based on all the above material and the fact that most sources implicate that he is the Sith'ari, but truth be told, neither Bane nor Sidious, nor any other Sith for that matter, completely personify the criteria of the Sith'ari prophecy.