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Vaishampayana was the traditional narrator of the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. He was an ancient Indian sage who was the original teacher of the Krishna Yajur-Veda. The Ashvalayana Grihya Sutra mentions him as Mahabharatacharya. He is also mentioned in the Taittiriya Aranayaka and the Ashtadhyayi of Pāṇini.
He was a pupil of Vyasa, from whom he learned the Jaya, the original 8,800 verses of the Mahabharata. He later expanded the Jaya to 24,000 verses under the name Bharata, which he recited to King Janamejaya at his sarpa satra (snake sacrifice). The Harivamsa is also said to have been recited by him. The full 100,000 verses of the Mahabharata was not complete until several centuries later.
Ved Vyasa had arranged the accumulated,revealed, Vedic literature into the well known four branches. Of these, the yajnika and liturgical mystical hymns (revealed mostly in prose), which formed the Yajus descension, came to the custody of Vaisampayana,who was also the custodian of Mahabharata. Vaisampayana was unique to have obtained this double honour of preserving and propagating both a Vedic branch, and a Grand Epic. In course of time Yajus literature itself developed further into many notable branches such as Kathaka, the Maitrayaniya, the Saubala and others; and also into the so called White Yajus School, the Sukla Yajurveda.
- Raychaudhuri, H.C. (1972). Political History of Ancient India: From the Accession of Parikshit to the Extinction of the Gupta Dynasty, Calcutta: University of Calcutta, p.38
- Insights Into the Taittiriya Upanishad, Dr. K. S. Narayanacharya, Published by Kautilya Institute of National Studies, Mysore