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The Great Emperor Raghu was a valorous king of the Ikshvaku dynasty. According to the Raghuvamsha, he was born to king Dilīpa and his queen Sudakshina. His name in Sanskrit means the fast one, deriving from Raghu's chariot driving abilities. So celebrated were the exploits of Raghu, that his dynasty itself came to be known as the Raghuvamsha or the Raghukula after him. The history of his dynasty is elaborated upon by Kalidasa in his Raghuvamsha.
A number of Puranas, which include the Vishnu Purana, the Vayu Purana, the Linga Purana, mention Dirghabahu as the son of Dilīpa and Raghu as the son of Dirghabahu. But the Harivamsha, the Brahma Purana and the Shiva Purana mention Raghu as son of Dilīpa and Dirghavahu as his epithet. The lineage described in the Raghuvamsha mention Dilīpa as the father of Raghu. According to most of the Puranas, as well as Kalidasa, Raghu was succeeded by his son Aja, who was the father of Dasharatha, the father of Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna.
Raghu was a great donor. It is said that no one returns from his palace empty-handed.
Raghu's father Dilīpa was a very pious king, and performed as many as 100 yajnas or sacrificial rituals. Until he did so, only Indra, king of the Gods, had earned that distinction. In a bid to prevent Dilipa from equaling his record, Indra placed many hurdles in the path of the successful completion of the 100th sacrifice, but Raghu was able to prevail over the forces of Indra himself, and the sacrifice was completed successfully.
Raghu is best known today as the great-grandfather of Rama. There are indications that in the classical period, Raghu was a heroic personality of far greater importance than what one would imagine today. The mahakavya (epic) composed by the classical poet Kalidasa on the lives of the ancestors of Rama is entitled Raghuvamsha or the "Dynasty of Raghu". Indeed, Rama himself is known by many appellations (such as Raghava, Raghunandan and Raghukula Nayaka), indicative of his belonging to the family of Raghu, which again serves to underscore the great prestige enjoyed by Raghu in the puranic era.
- Misra, V.S. (2007). Ancient Indian Dynasties, Mumbai: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, ISBN 81-7276-413-8, pp.239-40