The Prince awakens Channa to prepare Kanthaka, the steed that would lead him on his going forth

The horse that Prince Siddhattha was to ride on his great going forth was named Kanthaka. It was another of the sahajata, born on the same day as the Prince. The Pathamasambodhi says of the size of this horse that it was "about eighteen elbow lengths [sork] from neck to tail," but it does not say how tall the horse was, stating only that "its height was in proportion to its length." It also describes it as being "of purest white, like a freshly polished conch shell, its head black, the color of a crow. The hair on its face was white like the pith of Johnson grass. It was possessed of great trength and stood on a jeweled pedestal."

According to this description, the poet makes the horse bigger than ordinary horses and very special. In ordinary terms we might say that Kanthaka was a very tall, white horse, like the steed of a great Emperor or movie star.

Approaching the horse, Prince Siddhattha lifted his right hand and stroked Kanthaka's back. It is said that this pleased Kanthaka so much that the horse neighed loudly, the sound traveling all over Kapilavatthu for a distance of one yojana (about 16 kilometers). If this was so, then why did not the people of the city wake up? The author of the story states "the devas suppressed the sound and made it disappear"-he used the devas as a muffler for the horse's cries.

If we were to translate this from poetic to more realistic terms, we might say that Prince Siddhattha was very skilled with horses and was able to calm the horse so that it did not cry out.

The Prince then mounted the horse and headed toward the city gate, known as Phrayabaladvara, with Channa as page walking behind him. The day of his going forth, according to the Pathamasambodhi, was the full moon of the eighth month. The author states, "The moon waxed bright in a sky that was clear of clouds. The whole of the heavens were bathed in the white light of the full moon."
 

Copyright 2002 Mahidol University All rights reserved.
Mahidol University Computing Center, Rama VI Road, Rajathewi, Bangkok 10400, THAILAND Tel. (662) 354-4333