The Bodhisatta was once a king. Another king marched his huge army to capture the Bodhisatta’s kingdom, and when he reached the city gate he declared that his army was so large it was undefeatable. A calm and confident Bodhisatta appeared atop the fortifications and told his rival, “Fool, stop your futile babble; I will destroy you and your army like an elephant crushing a thicket of reeds.” The invading king was filled with fear at the glorious sight of the Bodhisatta, so he fled back home.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The king who intended to attack the Bodhisatta was an earlier birth of a wandering ascetic who loved to debate but found few people who would engage him. Once after arriving in the Buddha’s city, he asked if there was anyone he could debate, and the people told him to ask the Buddha, who nobody in all of India could surpass. Their descriptions of his perfection did not dissuade the traveler, but when he entered the hall where the Buddha sat preaching and saw a majestic figure on par with Brahma, he turned right around and ran off saying, “Who could overcome a man like this?”
When people told the Buddha what had just happened, he told them this story so they knew that it was not the first time this man had fled at the sight of him.