So one night Siddhartha left his palace with his servant Channa and horse Kanthaka, leaving the luxuries and comfort of the royal life far behind to become a mendicant. It is said in the Buddhist scriptures that the horse's hooves were muffled by the gods in order to prevent the guards from being aware of Siddhartha's departure. This event is known as 'Great Departure'.
Siddhartha initially went to Rajagaha and began his ascetic life by begging for alms in the streets of the city. King Bimbisara recognized Siddhartha and offered him his throne after hearing about Siddhartha's quest. Siddhartha rejected the offer but promised to return to the kingdom of Magadha after attaining the enlightenment.
After that Siddhartha left Rajagaha and started practicing under two hermit teachers. He mastered the teachings of 'Alara Kalama' and was asked by Kalama to follow him but he left his teacher, as he was unsatisfied with his practices. Siddhartha then became a student of Udaka Ramputta, but again he moved on, as he was not satisfied with his path. However he achieved high levels of meditative consciousness.
Siddhartha then formed a group with five companions led by Kondanna in order to achieve further austerities. They tried to attend enlightenment through total deprivation of worldly goods, including food, practicing self- necrosis. Siddhartha starved himself to almost death as he restricted his food intake to only a leaf or nut every day and collapsed in a river while taking bath and almost drowned. Siddhartha gave a second thought about his path. Then suddenly he remembered a moment from his childhood while he was watching his father to start the season's plowing and had fallen naturally concentrated and focused. This thought showed him the hint of the real path for enlightenment. At this point he decided to give up the extreme life he had been living, eat food in moderation and adapt the 'middle path' or the moderate way.