Kanthaka (v.l. Kannthaka)
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).