The B'omarr Monks are the sole members of the B'omarr Order, a mysterious religion based around denial of corporeal sensation and physical reality - often to the extent of surgical amputation. Their primary base of operations is an imposing monastery built on the fringes of Tatooine's Dune Sea - a place known more popularly as Jabba's Palace. The B'omarr Monks appear very briefly in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, taking on a significantly expanded role during the short story anthology Tales Of Jabba's Palace.
Beliefs And Practices
A strictly ascetic religious order, the B'omarr believe in isolating themselves from all worldly sensations in pursuit of enlightenment: living humbly, dressing simply, discarding all personal possessions and luxuries, the monks of the Order devote themselves to studying mental discipline and enhancing their minds. For the most part, the monks rarely express emotion and scarcely ever resort to violence - not necessarily out of pacifism, but simply because they believe it to be an unwanted distraction from their pursuit of enlightenment. A tolerant religion, the B'omarr will accept initiates of any race: their ranks include humans, Twi'leks, Quarren, Whiphids, and even a Frog-Dog; this tolerant attitude even expands to allowing their monastery to be regularly invaded and occupied by criminals, for as long as the monks are allowed to continue their meditations in peace, they will endure almost anything. Even the murder of an enlightened monk is tolerated, as Bib Fortuna discovered, though few of the palace's inhabitants are willing to raise a hand against the monks thanks to the ominous reputation the Order has acquired over the years.
B'omarr initiates spend much of their time studying the sacred texts of the Order, expanding their grasp of logic and gradually developing their mental powers; however, their most important field of study concerns their ability to cut themselves off from the physical world, beginning with their ability to feel pain. Thus, the less the monks feel, the closer they are to enlightenment; similarly, they also produce less sensation, gradually abandoning speech until they communicate entirely through the use of telepathy. When not busy with meditation and self-denial, the monks spend their days wandering the palace on mysterious errands: some of them serve as spies and messengers for the criminal factions inhabiting their monastery, ingratiating themselves into the schemes of their apparent masters; others congregate in the tea rooms of the palace, conducting silent meetings over cups of powerful herbal tea - the only acceptable sustenance for the monks of the Order.
After many years of isolation and spiritual development, a B'omarr monk will have become completely isolated from all sensations and worldly distractions: it is at this stage that the Order completes the monk's journey to enlightenment by helping him shed his physical body - surgically. Removing the brain of an enlightened monk and placing it in a jar of nutrient-rich fluid, the Order thus allows their ascended brothers the ultimate peace and solitude needed to continue their studies. For the most part, these enlightened brains are content to sit in their jars, contemplating the great mysteries of the universe and exploring the cosmos through mental power alone; however, some still have physical business to attend to about the palace, and will occasionally make use of BT-16 spider droids to carry their jars about the palace, commanding these simple droids through telepathic impulses.
However, despite their peaceful exteriors, the monks can be extremely dangerous: though they pretend to serve the criminal inhabitants of the palace, their only true allegiance is to their order, and they will often take careful steps to ensure that their "master's" plans benefit them in some way. They are also prepared to punish wayward members of the Order by shedding their bodies ahead of schedule, ensuring that the fallen monk spends the rest of his life cut off from all sensation, condemned either to an extremely painful period of adjustment or outright insanity. Similarly, outsiders who associate with the B'omarr Monks often make the mistake of learning too much from their mysterious allies, and are usually considered fellow Monks as a result: in some cases, these unsuspecting conspirators may learn so much from the Order that they may actually become worthy of enlightenment - resulting in considerable shock when the B'omarr surgeons come for them.
The exact origins of the B'omarr Monks are shrouded in mystery; though it's believed that they were established perhaps seven hundred years prior to the events of A New Hope, it's not known precisely where their Order was first established or what circumstances formed their unique perspectives on spirituality. However, what is known is that the Monks were searching for an isolated world where they could continue their studies in peace, and eventually settled on Tatooine: at the time, the planet had been abandoned by offworlders for generations and was inhabited only by the native tribes of Jawas and Tusken Raiders, making it the ideal location for the isolationist monks to settle. Travelling to Tatooine en mass, the Order built a colossal monastery on the very edge of the Dune Sea, fortifying it extensively against sandstorms and Tusken Raiders; then, they vanished behind its walls and continued their pursuit of enlightenment.
Tatooine did not remain isolated for long, however: as the years progressed, explorers and prospectors began investigating the planet once again, and though the Order had done their best to hide their monastery from prying eyes, it wasn't long before the desert complex found its place in local legend. From time to time, the B'omarr Monks were approached by some of these visitors, usually lost or wounded travelers: skilled in the arts of healing and surgery, the Monks provided what aid they could to their guests before sending them on their way. When more aggressive visitors arrived at the monastery, they did not resist them, allowing these bandits and fugitives to share their home with them - on the condition that the Order was allowed to continue its business in private. Unnerved by the ominous reputation and mysterious customs of the monks, the criminal "guests" agreed, having no overwhelming desire to find out what the B'omarr Monks were really capable of.
However, it wasn't until the legendary pirate Alkhara arrived in 550 BBY that the monastery truly became known as a den of criminal activity: having made enemies among both the Tusken Raiders and the local law enforcement, Alkhara was anxious for a stronghold from which he could continue his reign of terror, and even went so far as to besiege the monastery for a time. However, to the bandit's surprise, the Monks simply opened the gates to him and invited him to stay for as long as he liked, once again requesting that they be left alone. Confused, Aklhara agreed, and swiftly went about transforming the isolated monastery into his new hideout: over the course of thirty-four years, he renovated the complex to include a road leading towards the Pit of Carkoon, a vastly expanded set of living quarters, a nine-story watchtower, battlements, and even an impressive array of dungeons and underground chambers. The Monks remained contented with this arrangement, eventually relocating to the cellars in order to ensure their privacy.
Eventually, Alkhara was evicted from his hideout by the unexpected arrival of Jabba the Hutt, who promptly adopted the expanded monastery for use as his own base of operations. Agreeing to let the B'omarr Monks continue their studies in isolation, he too continued his expansions to the property, outfitting the complex with a vast hanger for his fleet of skiffs and sailbarges, plating the walls with ditanium for additional defense, and even building a throne room in the heart of the citadel - firmly establishing the desert complex as his palace.
From Out Of The Shadows
However, Jabba brought with him his entourage of toadies, pirates, bounty hunters and cutthroats, many of whom had agendas of their own - usually involving their master's violent death and usurpation; with so many conflicting plans at work, it wasn't long before the B'omarr Monks got involved. Despite the Order's insistence on isolation and poverty, many conspirators throughout the palace did their best to acquire the services of the Monks for their own ends, knowing that the Order was considered beneath suspicion: Jabba's closest rival, the Lady Valarian, was known to have at least one corrupt monk on her payroll - though he was killed following a misunderstanding with J'Quille, an assassin also working for Valarian.
One of the most prominent conspirators to have allied with the B'omarr Monks was none other than Bib Fortuna, Jabba's majordomo: throughout his time at the palace, Fortuna used the monks as informants and allies in his attempts to assassinate Jabba and seize control of his criminal empire. At one point, in order to save his protege Nat Secura from execution at the hands of the Rancor, Fortuna even ordered the monks to remove his brain so that he would live on following the death of his body. Perhaps because of this, the Order began to consider the Twi'lek schemer as one of their own, even referring to him as "Brother Fortuna." Far less auspicious among the Order's allies was Jabba's pet Frog-Dog, Buboicullaar: a sentient despite his primal appearance, "Bubo" grew quite friendly with the monks, particularly the enlightened brain of Evilo Nailati - and even went so far as to foil Ree-Yees' assassination attempt on Jabba by eating the bomb detonator, much to Nailati's amusement.
The B'omarr Monks' patience with their guests ended soon after the death of Jabba the Hutt: though many of his henchmen had stayed at the palace - avoiding a violent death alongside their master aboard the sailbarge in the process - their attempts to gather up as much of Jabba's wealth as possible was cut short when the B'omarr Monks emerged from the shadows. Overwhelming the diminished entourage through sheer numbers, they forcibly recruited many of the criminals into their ranks, killing any who resisted; within a matter of days, the palace was once again a monastery.
Having survived the sailbarge's destruction, Fortuna returned with news of Jabba's death some time later, believing that the Monks would be ready to aid his next move: instead, he found himself abruptly locked in the throne room while the surgeons prepared to usher him into enlightenment. Jabba's accountant, Tessek, suffered a similar fate: having barely managed to survive the explosion on the sailbarge, the aquatic Quarran was half-dead from dehydration by the time he arrived back at the palace, and the Monks wasted no time in preparing "Acolyte Tessek" for the only treatment that could save him. Not all the Order's inductions were unwilling, however: Bubo willingly surrendered his body to contemplate the universe; forbidden from leaving Tatooine as punishment for failing to kill Jabba, J'Quille joined the monks in a desperate attempt to escape the torturous heat of the planet. Over time, these four prominent minds were able to adjust to their new state of being and gradually begin new and happier lives.
In the decades following the Battle of Endor, the Monks retained exclusive control of the former palace: any attempts to retake the monastery or plunder its hidden riches ended in disaster, with all invaders ending up dead or forcibly enlightened. Nonetheless, the B'omarr Monks were careful to let some of the thieves escape with a handful of valuables, ensuring that the legend of the palace continued to grow - and guaranteeing a constant stream of new recruits from treasure-hunters and thrillseekers.
In total, the B'omarr Monks appear in Return Of The Jedi exactly once, when R2-D2 and C-3PO enter Jabba's Palace; the clattering spiderlike creature that frightens 3PO is an enlightened monk inhabiting a spider droid.