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Sage Shaunak Jee is a much respected sage with whom numerous Pauraanik stories, mythologies, and legends are connected with. He is the son of Shunak, that is why he is more popularly known as Shaunak. His real name was Ghritsamad, but nobody knows him by this name. He is from Chandra Vansh - see Chandra Vansh from Bhaagvat Puraan, in Aayu's lineage

His Birth
Once Sunahotra's son Shaunahotra performed a Yagya. Indra also came to attend that Yagya. At that time Shaunahotra rescued him from an Asur. Indra was very pleased with him and blessed him that he himself will be born in his next birth in the Bhrigu family with the name of Shaunak.

Vaayu Puraan gives his genealogy in two ways -
(1) Ruru (Pramadwarj) -> Shunak -> Ugrashravaa
(2) Dharmvriddh -> Shunahotra -> Grihatsamad -> Shunak -> Shaunak (Vaayu Puraan, 92, 26)

Dates and Disciples
His chief disciple was the famous Ashwalaayan. Once Ashwalaayan wrote two treatises - Grihya Sootra and and Shraut Sootra and dedicated them to his Guru Shaunak Jee to please him. After reading them Shaunak Jee destroyed his own Shraut Shaastra. Ashwalaayan wrote his treatise after having studied the 10 works of Shaunak on Rig Ved. Thus Shaunak Jee's disciple was Ashwalaayan; and Ashwalaayan's disciple was Kaatyaayan. Kaatyaayan's disciple was Patanjali.

Kaatyaayan, the disciple of Ashwalaayan, later received the 10 books written by Shaunak Jee and the 3 books written by Ashwalaayan Jee. Kaatyaayan gave two books to his disciple Patanjali - Yajur Ved Kalp Sootra and Saam Ved Upa Granth, which he wrote himself.

An interesting point to note here is that Shaunak Jee here is the teacher of Kaatyaayan who is believed to have lived during the 3rd century BC. Some of the quotes of Brihat Shaunak Horaa indicate that Sage Vaatsyaayan was also his disciple. It is through this source we can infer that Shaunak's disciple line was as follows - Shaunak -> Ashwalaayan -> Kaatyaayan -> Patanjali -> Vyaas Jee.

Perhaps Sage Shaunak Jee lived approximately around 250 BC, as evident from the internal evidence available form Sri Saunakeeya Vivaaha Patal. Mihir uses the arguments of Sage Shaunak a lot, and many commentators of BJ has quoted Sage Shaunak a lot and shown us based on which quotes of Sage Shaunk, Mihir is stating the same. (Ref. Bhattotpal' s commentary to BJ and Kaikulangar Ramavariar's Hridyapath commentary to BJ). Thus it clearly means that what ever be the period of Varaah Mihir he lived after the period of sage Shaunak - i.e. 250 BC.

According to Wikipedia -
"It is especially the name of Sanskrit grammarian, author of the "Rig Ved Pratishaakhya", the Brihad Devataa, the Charan Vyooh and 6 Anukramanikaa (indexes) to the Rig Ved. In legend, He is claimed to be the teacher of Kaatyaayan, and especially of Ashwalaayan; and is said to have united the Baashkal and Shaakal Shaakhaa (branches) of the Rig Ved.

Sometimes he is identified as Grihatsamad, a Vaidik Rishi.
While according to Vishnu Puraan he is the son of Grihatsamad and invented the system of 4 levels of human life.

An interesting point to note here is that Shaunak is considered as the teacher of Kaatyaayan who is believed to have lived during 3rd century BC. Wikipedia says the following about Kaatyaayan - "Kaatyaayan (c. 3rd century BC) was a Sanskrit grammarian, mathematician and Vaidik priest who lived in ancient India. He is known for two works: (1) The Varttikaa, an elaboration on Paanini grammar. Along with the Mahaabhaashya of Patanali, this text became a core part of the Vyaakaran (grammar) canon. This was one of the six Vedaang, and constituted compulsory education for students in the following 12 centuries. He also composed one of the later Sulba Sootra, a series of 9 texts on the geometry of altar constructions, dealing with rectangles, right-sided triangles, rhombuses, etc.
As clarified earlier the internal evidence available from within Shree Shaunakeeya Vivaah Paataal also points to that fact that he lived during 3rd century BC.

Shaunak Jee in MBH
He has played a very great role in Mahaabhaarat. Ugrashravaa had told MBH to Shaunak Jee in the Naimish Aranya

His Works
He is the famous author of the  following works
(1) Rik Pratishaakhya,  (2) Rig Ved Chhandaanukramaani, (3) Rig Vedarshyaanukramam, (4) Rig Ved Anuvaakaanukramaani, (5) Rig Ved Sooktaanukramam, (6) Rig Ved Kathanaanukramaani, (7) Rig Ved Pad Vidhaan, (8) Brihad Devataa, (9) Shaunak Smriti, (10) Charan Vyooh, (11) Rig Vidhaan.

Matsya Puraan, 352, says that Shaunak Jee has written a work on the science of architecture also.

According to Vishnumitra of Champaa Town, the commentator of Uvataa's commentary of Rig Ved Pratishaakhya, Shaunak Jee taught Rig Ved Pratishaakhya to others in Satra Yagya (a 13-day very large Yagya) held in Naimish Aranya.

As the author of Brihat Shaunak Horaa, Laghu Shaunak Horaa, Shree Shaunakeeya Vivaah Paataal etc. Many of his works, as well numerous quotes from his lost works are still available. Some of the available quotes from Brihat Shaunak Horaa indicate that Sage Vaatsyaayan was also the student of Shaunak Jee. Third century BC must have been a very vibrant period in the literary history of India, with so many scholars living at the same time and in touch with each other. That was probably the period of King Ashok (304–232 BC) in the North and the Saatavaahan Kings (230 BC–220) in central India. If this Sage Shaunak is connected to Naimish Aranya as MBH puts it, then he lived 45 miles north of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh (near Naimish Aranya) and was certainly within Ashok’s empire.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on 5/27/03
Updated on 04/28/13