By Swami Harshananda
Śaunaka is the name of a sage found in our ancient religious literature in many places. 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. His magnum opus is the Brhaddevatā dealing with the Vedic deities.
Āśvalāyana was his chief disciple. He was a kulapati 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 perform the Aśvamedha sacrifice to get rid of brahma-hatyādoṣa.
- Śatapatha Brāhmana 184.108.40.206
- Brhadāranyaka Upaniṣad 2.5.20
- Kausītaki Brāhmana 4.7
- Chāndogya Upaniṣad 1.9.3
- Mundaka Upaniṣad 1.1.3
- Anukramanīs means indices.
- Kulapati means supreme head of a gururkula or a residential forest university.
- Janamejaya was the son of Puru, of the lunar race.
- Brahma-hatyādoṣa means the sin of killing a brāhmaṇa.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore