After the duel between Darth Sidious and Yoda, the Jedi Master retreats and decides to withdraw from further battles for the foreseeable future.
But why did Yoda self-exile on Dagobah of all places? We take a look at three possible reasons for this decision.
Failing To Kill Darth Sidious
The duel between Darth Sidious and Yoda In Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was a fight that was much anticipated.
A fight between the two most powerful users of the Force was bound to be a hard one, the question was who would prevail?
The clash provided everything that was expected of this encounter, lightsabers flashing, Force lightning thrown, absorbed and fired back.
The two duelists tried everything in their repertoire and for a moment it looked as if they were evenly matched.
But surprisingly it was Yoda, the Supreme Master of the Jedi Order who fled the combat with the help of Bail Organa. He tells Organa that he must go into exile as he has failed.
When Darth Sidious tells Yoda that his arrogance blinds him, he’s not far wrong. The hubris of the Jedi Council caused them to be blinded to the real identity of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and allowed the Sith to rise again.
Not only had they risen, but they had learned and grown. Meanwhile the Jedi Order had clung to its traditions and become stuck in its ways.
The Sith had studied every aspect of the Force and even Jedi lore in preparation for this very day.
Because of all this, Palpatine’s Order 66 resulted in the deaths of thousands of Jedi across the galaxy. Yoda knew he could not beat Darth Sidious and that soon there would be reinforcements arriving while most other Jedi were dead.
It was a tactical retreat. It would give Yoda time to wait for someone exceptional who could defeat the Sith and their master.
Dagobah’s Connection To The Dark Side
As much as Yoda’s self imposed exile on Dagobah was a tactical retreat it was also a way for him to shield himself from other Force sensitive beings.
When he, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa were discussing Luke and Leia’s futures Yoda says that ‘until the time is right, disappear we will.’
He doesn’t discuss where he’s going, but he needs to hide himself away for the time being.
To train the next generation of Jedi he had to be ready and to have learned from the mistakes of the entire Jedi council and their attachment to the old ways.
In order to stay alive he would have to escape being detected by Darth Sidious or other Sith.
The planet of Dagobah had a connection with the dark side and this would serve as a perfect hiding place for a being of light as bright as Yoda. This dark side nexus was a cave in which Luke would later battle Darth Vader.
While on Dagobah it is assumed that Yoda continued his studies of the Force. In season 6 of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Yoda connects with his former pupil Qui-Gon Jinn through the Force.
Qui-Gon teaches his former master how to maintain one’s consciousness after death.
So even though he was lying low, and not taking an active part in the Rebellion Yoda was still studying the Force and even learning from his former, deceased student.
Emulating N’Kata Del Gormo
There is also in-universe evidence that Yoda’s self exile to Dagobah was influenced by the Jedi master that trained him, N’Kata del Gormo.
Legend has it that Yoda was not young when he was trained as was the Jedi way, taking infants to the Jedi Temple at Coruscant.
Instead he crash lands his ship on a swampy and unidentified planet where the Hysalrian Jedi Master N’Kata del Gormo lived.
Yoda and a human companion are trained by him in the ways of the Force and only when the training is complete does Yoda go to the Jedi Temple.
The selection of the swampy planet Dagobah seems to be heavily influenced by his former master’s choice of location.
It is thought that Del Gormo may also have been in some sort of self imposed exile when Yoda met him.
It would make sense that the Force would guide Yoda toward his former master as it did when Luke was guided to Dagobah by Obi-Wan as a Force spirit so many years later.
There is not necessarily one single reason for Yoda’s decision to self-exile on Dagobah. It may well have been the result of all of these reasons and perhaps more.
But it is likely that Grand Master Yoda believed it was better that he retreat and live to fight, and train, another day when a worthy Jedi Knight made themselves known.