From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Śaunaka is the name of a sage found in our ancient religious literature in many places.[1][2][3][4][5] His original name was Gṛtsamada and came to be known as Śaunaka since he was the son of the sage Śunaka. He was considered as a reincarnation of Indra, the king of gods. He was the author of several works most of which were centred round the Ṛgveda. They are known as Anukramanīs.[6] His magnum opus is the Brhaddevatā dealing with the Vedic deities.

Āśvalāyana was his chief disciple. He was a kulapati[7] with ten thousand Vedic students under his care. According to the purāṇas there was another Śaunaka also known as Indrota who made the king Janamejaya[8] perform the Aśvamedha sacrifice to get rid of brahma-hatyādoṣa.[9]


  1. Śatapatha Brāhmana
  2. Brhadāranyaka Upaniṣad 2.5.20
  3. Kausītaki Brāhmana 4.7
  4. Chāndogya Upaniṣad 1.9.3
  5. Mundaka Upaniṣad 1.1.3
  6. Anukramanīs means indices.
  7. Kulapati means supreme head of a gururkula or a residential forest university.
  8. Janamejaya was the son of Puru, of the lunar race.
  9. Brahma-hatyādoṣa means the sin of killing a brāhmaṇa.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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