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The Markandeya Purana mentions the following story about Harishchandra's tryst with Brahmarishi Vishwamitra in the forest:

In Treta Yug, there was a king named Harishchandra. Once he was hunting in the Mahabaahu forest when suddenly, he heard loud cries of a woman- 'Save me! Save me!' It was followed by the cries of many women. Hearing those cries, King Harishchandra shouted loudly- 'Don't be afraid' and dashed in the direction of the cries. The cries however were an illusion created by Vighnaraj, the lord of the obstacles. At that time when King Harishchandra heard those cries, sage Vishwamitra was observing severe penance in the forest. In order to test Harishchandra's virtuosity, Vighnaraj entered his body. As soon as Vighnaraj entered Harishchandra's body, Harishchandra lost his temper and began to abuse Vishwamitra, which enraged him. His anger destroyed all the knowledge, he had acquired due to his severe penance.

Who is this Vighnaraj? His role seems to be exactly opposite of Vighnaharta Ganesh so do they have any connection?

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The Vighnaraja you mentioned is Ganesha or Ganapati himself . Actually Ganesha is also called by these two names 1) Vighnaraja and 2) Vighnaharta .

This Vighnaraja is Ganesha himself and that is is mentioned in - Skanda Purana Book 2 -Vol. 11 - Kashi Kanda- Chapter 57 - "Manifestation of Dhundi Vinayaka and Fifty Six Vinayakas "

This is Skanda Purana Story where Shree Ganapati Visited Holy city of Kashi or Varanasi ,with his father Lord Shiva.

जय विघ्नकृतामाद्य भक्तनिर्विघ्नकारक ।।
अविघ्नविघ्नशमन महाविघ्नैकविघ्नकृत् ।। Skanda Purana 2.11.57.17 ।।

17 be Victorious , O foremost one among those who cause obstacles . You are the cause of freedom from obstacles unto your devotees . O one free from obstacles , O subduer of Obstacles , O one with great Obstacles reduced to a single obstacle.


ये विघ्नराज भवता करुणाकटाक्षैः संप्रेक्षिताः क्षितितले क्षणमात्रमत्र ।।
तेषां क्षयंति सकलान्यपिकिल्विषाणि लक्ष्मीः कटाक्षयतितान्पुरुषोत्तमान्हि ।।Skanda Purana 2.11.57.27 ।।

27 O Vighnaraja those who are perceived even for a moment on earth by means of your benign glances have all their sins reduced . They are Purushottamas.


Here are above Sanskrit verses 17 and 27 - Also see the below description.

" Vighnarāja (विघ्नराज, “lord of hindrances”) refers to one of the fifty-six vināyakas located at Kāśī (Vārāṇasī), and forms part of a sacred pilgrimage (yātrā), described in the Kāśīkhaṇḍa (Skanda-purāṇa 4.2.57). He is also known as Vighnarājavināyaka, Vighnarājagaṇeśa and Vighnarājavighneśa. These fifty-six vināyakas are positioned at the eight cardinal points in seven concentric circles (8x7). They center around a deity named Ḍhuṇḍhirāja (or Ḍhuṇḍhi-vināyaka) positioned near the Viśvanātha temple, which lies at the heart of Kāśī, near the Gaṅges."


And this Vighnarāja name of Ganesha is also can be seen in Sankat Nashan Ganesha Stotra

लम्बोदरं पंचमं च षष्ठं विकटमेव च।
सप्तमं विघ्नराजं च धूम्रवर्ण तथाऽष्टमम्‌॥3॥


So this Vighnaraja who is from Markandeya Purana Seems to be one of the Vinayakas who is Shree Ganesha himself and is also Called as the name Vighnaharta. The cause of all obstacles as well as remover of all the obstacles. And that is the reason why we in Hinduism all worship/Pray him before starting of any work , in order to remove the obstacles.

  • Thanks! I find it kinda sneaky that he should be expected to create obstacles & remove them only for those who worship him! – Dr. Vineet Aggarwal Jun 5 '18 at 7:35
  • @Dr.VineetAggarwal - Haha , Yes he is both creator and destroyer of obstacles.But even though he is called as Vighnaraja , he did not create obstacles for us common people but to high Yogi's and demons (Ravana etc.) for good. And i think he do not only remove obstacles who worship him but of all. We worship him before starting of any work so that no obstacle could distrub the work. – SwiftPushkar Jun 5 '18 at 7:43

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