The Bodhisatta was once a king known throughout India for his extreme generosity and perfect righteousness. Sometimes he gathered all the people of the city together and preached the sorts of behaviors that prevent suffering in life, such as earning wealth, getting an education, being generous, speaking truthfully and kindly, and taking care of elders. Because they listened to his advice, all the kingdom’s citizens lived happily and were destined for heaven.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
The king became intoxicated by his power and increasingly reveled in sin. One day he visited the Buddha, who asked why he had not come to see him for such a long time. The king just answered that he had been busy. The Buddha preached the importance of following the ten royal virtues, and then he told this story as an example of how kings should behave. He added that he had done so back then without having had a Buddha to instruct him, but it was easier for the king to be righteous now because he was living in the time of a perfect Buddha.
The king’s citizens were earlier births of the Buddha’s followers.