The Bodhisatta was once a king’s warhorse, and he lived a life far more luxurious than most humans. His food was served in a golden dish worth one hundred thousand coins and his stall was perfumed with the four odors and decorated with crimson curtains and flower garlands.
One time, seven kings from nearby lands surrounded the kingdom where the Bodhisatta lived and ordered his king to surrender or face war. The king discussed strategy with his advisors and they decided the best course of action was to send out their top soldier on the king’s warhorse to battle all seven armies by himself. If this method failed, then they would consider a different plan. The soldier and the Bodhisatta fought heroically and captured six of the kings and brought them back to the palace as prisoners. But while capturing the sixth, the Bodhisatta was wounded.
The soldier rode back to the palace gate and started to put armor on another horse. When the Bodhisatta saw this, he thought to himself that no other horse was anywhere near as good as he was: if he didn’t return to battle, the soldier and the king would surely be slain and the kingdom would fall. So he told the soldier to bind his wound to stop the bleeding, and then they rode out again and captured the final king.
His kingdom saved, the king came out to greet them. The Bodhisatta implored the king to not kill the seven captured kings, but to make them swear an oath to never wage war on him again. Then, after telling the king to rule with righteousness and charity for the rest of his days, the Bodhisatta died.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
One of the Buddha’s disciples stopped taking his practice seriously, and the Buddha told him this story as motivation. After hearing it, the disciple became an arahant.
The king and the soldier were earlier births of Ananda and Sariputta, two of the Buddha’s top disciples.