It almost goes without saying this but the Buddha loved his solitude. To be frank, his monks and nuns, the laity, the king and his ministers—in fact almost everyone around him, caused him discomfort and suffering (duhkha) because of their contentiousness.
Needing a break from the human herd, and hoping to wake up this contentious bunch by his absence, the Buddha robed himself in the forenoon and eventually came to dwell at a place called Guarded Forest Glade, “at the foot of a lovely sal tree” (Udana IV, v).
As the Buddha was dwelling there peacefully, alone, without an attendant, a great bull elephant, the leader of the herd had, likewise, just left for Guarded Forest Glade. He also, like the Buddha, was living “in discomfort and suffering” worried by elephants, she-elephants, calfs and sucklings. He also wanted seclusion and solitude being fed up with the life of the herd.
According to the Udana Athakatha (i.e., a commentary to the Udana) (Masefield’s PTS translation), upon seeing the Buddha the great elephant “became quenched like one whose torment had been extinguished with a thousand pitchers and, with devotion in the heart, then remained in the Lord’s [i.e., Buddha’s] presence.” Helping the Buddha, the great elephant’s principle duty became keeping the grass down around the auspicious sal tree and the Buddha’s hut. He also brought the Buddha water with his trunk and even provided the Buddha with sweet fruits and a toothpick! This same Sutta from the Udana goes on to say:
Thus the Exalted One lived in seclusion and solitude, and there arose in him this thought: Formerly I dwelt worried by monks and nuns ... I lived in discomfort, not ease [duhkha]. But now here am I dwelling unworried by monks and nuns ... by sectarians and their followers. Unworried, I dwell in comfort and at east. Likewise that bull-elephant thought: Formerly I dwelt worried by elephants ... Now I dwell unworried, in comfort and ease.
Herein agreeth mind with mind, of sage
And elephant whose tusks are like a plough pole,
Since both alike love forest solitude.