Shaunaka is the name applied to teachers, and to a Shakha of the Atharvaveda. 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. Shaunaka had a prominent role in the epic Mahabharata. The epic Mahabharata was narrated to Shaunaka by a story teller named Ugrasrava Sauti during a conclave of sages headed by Shaunaka in a forest named Naimisha.