Siddhartha left the King's room and returned to his palace. He passed throughthe beautifully decorated rooms, the magnificent hallways, past the sparklingfountains and into his rooms on the upper storey. He walked among the talentedmusicians and past the beautiful serving girls. But none of these delightsaffected his mind. He had only one thought, and that was to leave.
That night after dinner a strange force seemed to enter the palace. Oneby one the musicians and dancers and servants became drowsy and fell asleep.Finally even Yasodhara fell asleep next to her baby Rahula. The Princesaw them lying there and thought to himself, "I would like to hold my childin my arms one last time before I leave, but that might awaken Yasodhara.Then it would be very difficult to depart. No, I must go quickly and quietlybefore anyone wakes up."
Stepping carefully around the sleeping bodies, he reached the window andclimbed out onto the roof and then down to the ground. He went to whereChanna, the charioteer was sleeping and gently woke him up. "Hurry, Channa,saddle my horse. I wish to ride tonight."
Channa was surprised that the Prince would want to go out in the middleof the night, but he did as he was asked. He saddled Kantaka and led himto the Prince. Siddhartha patted his horse and whispered, "Kantaka, myold friend, we must be very quiet. I don't want to wake up any of the guards.Tonight is a very special night."
As the three of them approached the heavy gates at the edge of the gardens,the doors suddenly opened by themselves. Silently they rode out into thenight. When they reached the edge of the city, the Prince looked back andvowed, "Until I learn how to conquer all sufferings, I shall not returnto this fair city of Kapilvastu!"
They rode all night. Just as the morning sun was about to rise they reacheda quiet forest where many holy people lived. The Prince was happy and thoughtto himself, "Now my real journey has begun." Then he turned to Channa andsaid, "My friend, I thank you deeply for your help. I have reached theplace I wanted. Now it is time for you to take my horse and return to thepalace."
Channa could not believe that the Prince would not be returning to thepalace with him. He stood there confused, tears beginning to fill his eyes.The Prince understood his grief and spoke to him again very softly, "Myfaithful Channa, do not cry. Sooner or later we all have to say good-bye.Here, take these royal jewels I am wearing; I shall not need them anymore.Return to the palace and tell my father that I have not left in anger.It is not that I do not love my family anymore. Rather, it is because Ilove them all so much that I must leave them for now. If I ever discoverthe way to end all suffering, I shall return to them. If I fail, then itreally makes little difference that I am leaving them now. Sooner or laterdeath would pull us apart anyway. Go now, and let me begin my search."Channa realized that there was no way he could change the Prince's mind.He took Kantaka's reins from the Prince and slowly led the horse away.Many times both the charioteer and Kantaka looked back at the Prince withtears in their eyes. Eventually they reached Kapilavastu where Channa hadthe sad duty of telling everyone that Siddhartha had left the royal lifeforever.