The Bodhisatta was once a king. Another king marched his huge army to capture the Bodhisatta’s kingdom, but when he arrived and saw the massive towers on the city gate, he grew nervous and asked if it was the king’s palace. When the invading king heard that these were just the city gate towers and that the palace was as large and grand as the heavenly palace of Indra, king of the gods, he realized he could never defeat such a glorious king, 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 saw the massive gate towers of the Buddha’s monastery, he lost all confidence and went away.
The people who came to see the debate cheered and went to let the Buddha know 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 the gate to the Buddha’s home.