Rao was a powerful cosmic deity who was the embodiment of the sun of the Rao system where the world of Krypton existed. His position made him the supreme deity within the Kryptonians pantheon where he was attributed as a creator deity. In ancient times when he and his compatriots deities were worshipped, the planet Krypton was besieged by an endless winter created by the dark goddess of ice known as Cythonna. She came before Rao and professed that she loved him though he quickly came to realize that she did not know the meaning of the word as well as the fact that she only wished to mate with him in order to produce a race of monsters. This led to the Wars of Fire and Ice where Rao ultimately defeated Cythonna and banished her into space where she vowed vengeance on the Kryptonian people. Its known that Despair of the Endless once had a discussion with Rao where it tried to convince him how beautiful it would be if life arose in such an extreme environment as Krypton only for it to die out leaving only a single child to mourn its passing. Rao himself did not seem to show any opinion on the subject though its possible that he may have been influenced for the destruction of Krypton in the future.
In the ancient past of the Kryptonian civilization, Rao was identified as the god of the sun and the star itself was named Eldirao in his honor. Amongst the people of Krypton, it was Erok-El who was the founder of the House of El where the dynasty considered beings born with red hair to be a sign of divine influence by Rao. As such, it became considered common practice for male citizens with red hair to be accepted into the Kryptonian military based solely on this religious significance. Eventually, the Krptonian leader known as Jaf-El created a monotheistic culture where Rao was the sole deity on all of Krypton where churches were established in his name and individuals of reputable bearing to dedicate their lives as priests of Rao with such people taking this path being referred to as "Raoists". When Jor-El attempted to bring about a scientific age of spiritual enlightenment and leave beyond religion, he was opposed by the Holy Order of Rao who wished for a Rao-dependent Krypton.
On the former city of Kandor which became New Krypton, the Kryptonian civilization was born once again and the worship of Rao as well as the other gods became the domain of the Kryptonian Religious Guild. In this time, whilst each Guild had a patron deity, it was Rao who was considered the superme god of the entirety of the Kryptonian people and thus honored by them all. The high priest of Rao was known as the "Voice of Rao" who wore a bright red mask to conceal their faces and often attended the assembles of the high council where they held considerable power as evident in their judicial decisions. The Voice of Rao was believed to be a conduit for the actual voice of Rao and thus they speak rarely and only in times of great importance.
Through his guise as Jax-Ur, Vohc The Breaker was involved in an intricate plan that resulted in an artificial recreation of Rao that would serve him as well as purge all life so that it could be recreated again. This Rao was constructed by using genetic material from Thara Ak-Var who served as a host to the Flamebird.
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- Known Priests of Rao are Yu-El.
- In the Post-Crisis continuity, Rao was regarded as a mythological figure, whose influence ebbed some time during the 6th historical epoch. Members of the Kryptonian Science Council attempted to revitalize interest in the church of Rao as a means of destabilizing a rival religious faction led by the pacifist Sen-M.
- The possessive form of Rao is pronounced Ro.
- Kryptonians would often invoke Rao's name during moments of surprise or duress. Exclamations such as "By Rao!" were a common form of slang.
- The star system where Krypton is located is referred to as the Rao system.
- Rao was also the name of a god of peace in the World of Greyhawk setting for the Dungeons and Dragons role playing game.
- Rao is a common surname in South India, China and Taiwan.
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