The horse on which Gotama left his father's palace, accompanied by his attendant Channa. It is said that when Kanthaka was saddled for the journey, he realised the importance of the hour and neighed loudly for joy, but the gods muffled the sound of his neighing as also that of his footsteps as he galloped through the streets; ordinarily the sound of his neighing and galloping could be heard throughout Kapilavatthu. He was eighteen cubits long from neck to tail and proportionately broad, quite white in colour, like a clean conch-shell.

In this journey of Gotama, Channa held on to Kanthaka's tail. The horse had the strength, had it been necessary, to clear the ramparts of the city, eighteen hands high, at one bound, with the prince and Channa on his back. Just outside Kapilavatthu the prince stopped the horse, in order to take a last look at the city. A cetiya was later erected on this spot and called Kanthakanivatta-cetiya. The horse travelled thirty leagues between midnight and the following morning, as far as the river Anomā. It is said that Kanthaka could travel round the whole cakka-vāla in one night. With one leap the horse cleared the river, which was eight fathoms wide. On arriving on the opposite bank, the Bodhisatta gave orders that Kanthaka should be taken back to Kapilavatthu, but Kanthaka kept looking back at his master, and when the Bodhisatta disappeared from view the horse died of a broken heart, and was reborn in Tāvatimsa under the name of Kanthaka-devaputta. (J.i.62-5; Mtu.ii.159f., 165, 189, 190; VibhA.34, etc.; Buddhacarita, v.3, 68; vi.53ff).

Kanthaka was born on the same day as the Bodhisatta (J.i.54; BuA.106, 234, etc.). In heaven he had a magnificent palace of veluriya gems, which Moggallāna visited on one of his tours in Tāvatimsa. (Vv.73f;-VVA.311-18; see also DhA.i.70; iii.195).

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