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 to preach the sorts of behaviors that prevent suffering in life, such as educating oneself, earning wealth, being generous, always speaking truthfully and kindly, and taking care of elders. 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 decided to visit the Buddha, who asked why he had not come for such a long time. The king just answered that he had been busy. The Buddha preached the importance of following the ten virtues and then told this story as an example of how a king 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.