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File:The Great Going Forth.jpg
Prince Siddhartha and Channa (and the horse Kanthaka). Siddhartha cuts off his hair as a symbol of his renunciation of worldly life.
Official name Channa
Known for Explaining the four sights to the Siddhartha, Siddartha's renunciation

Channa - The Divine Charioteer (Pali: Channa; Sanskrit: Chandaka) (6th century BCE) was a royal servant and head charioteer of Prince Siddhartha Gautama. Channa later became a disciple of the Buddha and achieved arahantship, as is described in the 78th verse of the Dhammapada.

In his role as Siddhartha's charioteer, Channa accompanied Siddhartha when Siddhartha saw the Four sights, which eventually prompted Siddhartha's decision to renounce the world. It was Channa who explained the meaning of the four sights.

Channa was later entrusted by Siddhartha to accompany him upon his escape from the palace to become an ascetic.

During the late hours of that very night, Siddhartha effected what has been called his Great Going Forth (The Great Renunciation). He had his charioteer saddle his great white horse Kanthaka then, making his way to where his wife and newborn son slept, he said his silent farewells. Together Gautama and his charioteer rode to the edge of the forest where he exchanged clothes with the servant, shaved his head and leaving everything behind he entered the forest in his quest for truth and liberation.[1]

Channa returned Siddhartha's accouterments, weapons and hair to Suddhodarnha upon his return to the palace, after Siddhartha compelled him to return.

Upon Siddhartha's enlightenment as Gautama Buddha and return to Kapilavastu, Channa became a disciple of the Buddha, and a monk.


  1. Carol Anderson, BASIC BUDDHISM: A Beginner's Guide: Volume 1 - Origins, Concepts and Beliefs, Kindle Locations 421-425.

Further reading

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