Being a great king and yet being ready to renounce everything for the sake of Dharma is definitely a challenging quality, but it is not beyond comprehension to say that it was one of the regular virtues imbibed by the Ikshwaku dynasty. Known for their courage, just rule and righteousness of Dharma, the dynasty of Ikshwaku shone with kings who earned great fame for their conduct.
One of the great kings who ruled over the kingdom of Ayodhya was the righteous king Dilip. He was a great ruler and a noble man and took care of his subjects very dearly as his own children. The only worry that had that they were childless. When they approached their Kulguru Rishi Vashisht seeking a solution, the rishi mentioned that once when Dilip had gone to the heavens, he forgot to pay his respects to the divine Gomaata Kamadhenu and she had cursed him to become childless. King Dilip was worried listening to this and pleads for a solution. Rishi Vashisht tells him to serve Nandini, the divine daughter of Gomaata Kamadhenu who was in Rishi Vashisht’s ashram and get absolved of the curse and she grants them a son.
King Dilip and Sudakshina readily agree for the same and leave the comforts of Ayodhya start serving Gomaata Nandini with all devotion and fervour. Every day while Sudakshina offered her prayers in the morning and evening, King Dilip took Mata Nandini to the forest guarding her all time while she grazed in the green pastures of the forest.
This continued for some time. One day, while grazing, Mata Nandini entered a restricted grove which was known to be the grove of Bhagwathi Parvathi. King Dilip stood outside the entrance and waited for Mata Nandini to return. Suddenly, he heard a cry of alarm and rushed inside to see what had happened. He was shocked to see Mata Nandini was in the clutches of huge lion. King Dilip immediately raised his bow and arrow to shoot the lion, but his arm was paralysed. The king realised that it was not an ordinary lion and requested it to let go of Mata Nandini. But the lion refused as it was hungry and Mata Nandini had entered his grove without permission, the lion had all the right to kill and eat her.
Listening to these words, King Dilip humbly bowed his head and said that as a king and it was his duty to safeguard his subjects and save their lives. He requested the lion to let go of Mata Nandini and kill him instead. Saying this, King Dilip offered bowed to the lion and offered himself as a sacrifice to the lion. Suddenly, he was showered with flowers. When he got up, he saw a pleased Mata Nandini. With immense pleasure, Mata Nandini says that this was all an illusion created by her to test the king’s virtuosity and sacrificial nature. She then asks him what he desired of and the noble king asks for a son. Mata Nandini grants his wish and a son was born to the great Dilip, who was Raghu, on whose name the Ikshwaku dynasty came to be called as the Raghukul.
Although worried for a son, but when the situation needed, King Dilip got ready to sacrifice his own life putting aside as his personal worries for the sake of his subjects, which made him one of the great ancestors of Shri Ram.