There are many tales related to the rare white elephants.
In the story of the Buddha, the white elephant is connected to fertility and to knowledge. On the eve of giving birth to the Lord Buddha, his mother dreams that a white elephant comes to present her with a lotus, symbol of purity and knowledge.
In an old Buddhist text, the "Three Worlds" has one saying which related to White Elephant:
"The magnificent king possesses seven things: a perfect wife, and able treasurer, a wise chief minister, a swift horse, a wheel of the law and a precious gem to guide his actions: and the most noble of white elephants."
The white elephant was something above an ordinary elephant. Believe to have sacred power and regarded as the mount of the war god. For the kings of Burma and Siam (Ancient Thailand), the possession of these sacred beasts became very important. A king who had many, fine white elephants would be successful. It's said that the king who has white elephant will bring his kingdom to prosperous. If his white elephants died, it foretold disaster for king and kingdom.
The kings of old hunted eagerly for these special creatures. In occasions, if kings have many of these fine beasts, they would present them to one another as marks of diplomacy. In some cases, however, they fought over them.
In Thailand, the white elephant was once the symbol on the nation flag as it represents sacredness.