The Bodhisatta was once a king’s advisor. One time a rebellion broke out in the border region and the troops stationed there requested assistance from the king to put it down. Though it was the rainy season, he mustered his troops outside the palace to go fight. The horses were eating steamed peas and a monkey jumped down from a tree and filled his mouth and hands from the horse’s trough before climbing back up. As he ate, a pea dropped from his hands and he tossed away all the other peas to go get it. But he couldn’t find it and so returned to the tree empty-handed. He sat there and sulked.
The king had watched this happen and asked the Bodhisatta what he thought about it. “This is what greedy fools do, they spend a pound to win a penny,” he replied. “And we are about to do the same.” The king accepted the Bodhisatta’s wisdom and called off the campaign. But news of the king’s departure had already reached the border region and when the outlaws heard more troops were coming, they fled.
In the Lifetime of the Buddha
One rainy season there was a rebellion in the border region. The king’s troops stationed there had fought a few battles, but were not victorious, so they requested assistance. Despite the difficulty of travel on the wet roads, the king mustered troops to go fight. But then he began to doubt himself, so he went to consult the Buddha. When he told the Buddha where he was going and why, the Buddha told this story so the king knew he should cancel the journey. The outlaws, however, had already fled because they heard that reinforcements were on the way.
The king of the past was an earlier birth of Ananda, one of the Buddha’s top disciples.