Shaunaka (Sanskrit: शौनक śaunaka) is the name applied to teachers, and to a Shakha of the Atharvaveda. It is especially the name of a celebrated Sanskrit grammarian, author of the Ṛgveda-Prātiśākhya, the Bṛhaddevatā, the Caraṇa-vyūha and six Anukramaṇīs (indices) to the Rigveda. He is claimed as the teacher of Katyayana and especially of Ashvalayana, and is said to have united the Bashkala and Shakala Shakhas of the Rigveda. In legend, he is sometimes identified with Gritsamada, a Vedic Rishi. According to the Vishnu Purana, Shaunaka was the son of Gritsamada, and invented the system of the four levels of human life. Sootha mahaamuni narrated mythological stories to a group of sages headed by Shounaka mahaamuni.
Ṛgveda-Prātiśākhya is attributed to Shaunaka who taught it to others in a satra-yajna (a 12-day very large scale collective yajna) held in Naimisha according to Vishnumitra of Champa town, the commentator of Uvaṭa's commentary of Ṛgveda-Prātiśākhya
Shaunaka had a prominent role in the epic Mahābhārata. The epic Mahābhārata was narrated to Shaunaka by a story teller named Ugrasrava Sauti during a conclave of sages headed by Shaunaka in a forest named Naimisha.
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