In legends, he is also identified with Gritsamada, a Vedic Rishi. Gritsamada was a rishi credited with most of Mandala 2 of the Rig Veda. But Gritsamada rishi attributed the works to his son Kurma and Somahuti. There are wrtings to the effect that Gritsamada was a son of Shunahotra of the family of Angiras but Lord Indra had him transferred to the Bhrigu family. There is also a reference to the clan of Gritsamada. So they were probably different persons altogether except the Rig veda connections.
Saunaka is also said to be the guru of Katyayana and Ashvalayana. Katyayana was a Sanskrit grammarian, mathematician and Vedic priest. The Varttika, an elaboration on Panini grammar is attributed to him. Together with Mahabhasya of Patanjali, the Varttika became a core part of the Vyakarana grammar canon. Katyayana also composed the later Sulba Sutras. These Sutras belong to Srauta ritual containing geometry related to fire-altar construction. Legends have it that he was also known as Gritsamada, a Vedic rishi. Asvalayana, on the other hand is listed as shakha for Saunaka’s Carana-vyuha.
Shaunaka is also the name of a celebrated Sanskrit grammarian who was the author of Rig Veda Pratisakhya, the Brhaddevata , the Carana-vyuha and six Anukramanis or indices to the Rig Veda.
The Rig Veda Pratishakhya is the oldest phonetics textbooks describing pronunciation, intonation and Sanskrit rules of sandhi or word combination. This is specific to individual schools or Shakas of the Vedas. The Brhaddevata is a metrical Sanskrit catalogue of Rig Vedic deities worshipped in the individual Suktas of hymns of the Rig Veda. It also contains the myths and legends related to the composition of these Suktas.
Anukramanis are systematic indices of the Vedic hymns recording poetic meter, content and traditions of authorship. The six Anukramanis of the Rigveda ascribed to Shaunaka are: Anuvakanukramani, Arshanukramani,Chandonukramani, Devatanukramani,Padanukramani and Suktanukramani.
Saunaka plays a prominent role in the Mahabharata. It was narrated to him in the Naimisha forests by Ugrshravas Sauti during a conclave of sages headed by Saunaka. He visits the sages during the 12th year of their yagna at Naimisha. The guest, after having attended Janamejaya‘s snake sacrifice, visited several holy places including Kurukshetra before arriving at this place. At the sages’ request, he starts narrating the Mahabarata as he heard it from Vyasa’s disciple Vaisampayana in Janamejaya’s snake-sacrifice.
Janamejaya, although he had made his peace with the Naga, was not of a calm mind. The thought of his father, who had been killed by the Naga prince, continued to trouble him. “You knew my ancestors,”' said Janamejaya to Vyasa, “tell me about them.” Vyasa said that he had already told the story of the Bharata race to his disciple Vaisampayana in the forest. So, while Vyasa rested and listened, Vaisampayana narrated the epic to all present. Takshaka, Astika, King Janamejaya and all those present at the snake sacrifice sat enthralled as we heard the Mahabharata, which I will presently start to narrate. Thus did Ugrashravas Sauti narrate the epic to the group of sages who gathered around Saunaka's fire in the Naimisha forest.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
by Yogi Ananda Saraswathi