The following incident from the life of Emperor Dileep of the Raghu dynasty (which traces its roots to ShriRam) is famous. King Dileep was following a 'Gouvrat' (austerities which involve attending to the comforts of a cow). He was attending on 'Nandini' the divine cow. He would select and provide the most tender green grass. He would see that no flies bothered her. Nandini, who lived in Sage Vasishta's ashram (hermitage) would always wander. King Dileep followed her like a shadow to ensure her safety.
Once while traversing through a forest, they chanced upon a huge curel looking lion. The lion pounced upon Nandini and attempted to devour her. King Dileep immediately readied his bow. The lion then addressed Dileep and said 'i will leave the cow only if you offer yourself to me'. Now, King Dileep was a young handsome king, bravehearted and loved by his subjects for his kindhearted and just rule. But he did not have these thoughts in his mind. All he thought was that his body is insignificant compared to the task at hand (protection of the divine cow, Nandini). He bravely told the lion, 'my life's purpose will be fulfilled if I safeguard the life of this cow. I will not leave while she is in danger. For, if i were to do so, i would not be able to show my shameful face to my kingdom. I am a warrior, a kshatriya! I prefer death to the shame of having failed to protect a cow!'
The lion replied 'King, why are you giving up your life for the sake of a cow? Don't act foolishly, leave the cow here and return to your kingdom'. In reply King Dileep 'Don't worry about me losing my life, because it will not be in vain. You don't have to pity this body. If you want to bestow a favor, then take my body! If Nandini is killed in front of me and I stand by doing nothing, it will taint the great Raghu dynasty ! So, if you wish to spare me this shame, allow me to offer myself to you and let Nandini leave.'
This fine example from the Raghu Dynasty was actually pleading with the lion to take his life! This is the story of King Dileep an emperor whose land stretched from the mountains to the seas, whose rule was just and kind, whose subjects were prosperous, whose measured words never turned false and whose fame reached the three worlds.
– Gurudev Dr. Kateswamiji (Weekly Sanatan Chintan, 26.9.2006, Ed 1, Issue 8)