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What are the different types of vighnas (obstacles) discussed in our puranas from which lord Vighneshwara will protect us if we worship him?

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Just like we have the concept of Tāpatraya ( तापत्रय ) , i.e., three types of Sufferings,
similarly, there are said to be three types of Vighnas (Obstacles or Hindrances), viz.:

  • Ādhyātmika Vighna (ailment of the body),
  • Ādhibhautika Vighna (extraneous one of a physical nature),
  • Ādhidaivika Vighna (divine calamities).


  • Three types of Vighnas as per Śhiva Purāṇa:

This is discussed in Chapter 18 - Bondage and liberation from Section 1 - Vidyeśvara-saṃhitā of the Śhiva Purāṇa.

अज्ञानमोचनं साध्यं विशेषज्ञो हि मोचकः ।
आदौ च विघ्नशमनं कर्तव्यं कर्मपूर्तये ॥९८॥

  1. Freedom from ignorance is the goal. Only a specialist can achieve that. In order to fulfil a task, or a sacred rite, obstacles must be warded off.

निर्विघ्नेन कृतं साङ्गं कर्म वै सफलं भवेत् ।
तस्मात्सकलकर्मादौ विघ्नेशं पूजयेद्बुधः ॥९९॥

  1. A rite performed without hindrances in the middle can be fruitful. The subsidiary rites shall also be performed. Hence at the beginning of sacred rites, an intelligent man shall adore Gaṇeśa.

सर्वबाधानिवृत्त्यर्थं सर्वान्देवान्यजेद्बुधः ।
ज्वरादिग्रन्थिरोगांश्च बाधा ह्याध्यात्मिकी मता ।। १००॥

  1. An intelligent man must worship all deities in order to ward off all sorts of hindrances. (There are three types of hindrances.) The first one, the Ādhyātmika hindrance is the ailment of the body, whether it is a fever or tremor or other type of sickness.

पिशाचजम्बुकादीनां वल्मीकायुद्भवे तथा ।
अकस्मादेव गोधादिजन्तूनां पतनेऽपि च ॥ १०१॥
गृहे कच्छपसर्पस्त्रीदुर्जनादर्शनेऽपि च ।
ऋक्षनारीगवादीनां प्रसूतिविषयेऽपि च ।। १०२।।
भावि दुःखं सामायाति तस्मात्ते भौतिका मताः
अमेध्याशनिपातश्च महामारी तथैव च ।। १०३॥
ज्वरमारी विसूचिश्च गोमारी च मसूरिका ।
जन्मर्भग्रहसङ्क्रान्तिग्रहयोगाः स्वराशिके ।।१०४॥
दुःस्वप्नदर्शनाद्याश्च मता वै ह्याधिदैविका:
शवचाण्डालपतितस्पर्शादन्तर्गृहे गते ॥१०५॥
एतादृशे समुत्पन्ने भाविदुःखस्य सूचके ।
शान्तियज्ञं तु मतिमा-कुर्यात्तद्दोषशान्तये ॥१०६॥

  1. to 106.
    The second type of hindrance is Ādhibhautika (Extraneous one of a physical nature). The visitations of Piśācas, the outcome of ant-hills etc, falling of lizards and other insects, the advent of tortoise inside the house, infesting of serpents, untimely flowering of trees, deliveries in inauspicious hours and other things indicate some future misery. Hence these are called Ādhibhautika hindrances. The third type of hindrance is Ādhidaivika (Divine calamities). When lightning strikes, small pox, cholera, plague, typhus fever and similar infectious diseases spread and bad awful dreams, evil planets affecting the birth star or Rāśi (sign of the zodiac) occur, these hindrances are called Ādhidaivika. In order to ward off these hindrances and on occasions when one touches a corpse, a cāṇḍāla or a fallen man and goes inside without bathing, Śānti Yajña shall be performed to remove the evil effects.

Hence, one must always worship Lord Gaṇeśha before any auspicious work, for he removes and protects the worshipper from the three types of Hardships (Vighna) - Ādhyātmika, Ādhibhautika, & Ādhidaivika.
And since he removes the obstacles (Vighna), thus is referred by the name - Vighnahartā ( विघ्नहर्ता). And thus, he being the Lord or Master of all kinds of Obstacles, he's called Vighneśvara ( विघ्नेश्वर ).


  • Three types of Vighnas as per Kāmikāgama:

A very similar concept of three types of Vighnas, along with the rituals to ameliorate those obstacles, is discussed in the Chapter 4: Arcanāvidhipaṭala in the Purva-Pada of Kāmikāgama, Basically, at the beginning of ŚhivaPūjā, the Āchārya has to remove the following three types of Vighnas

  1. Divya-Vighna: Caused by those resident in Devaloka,
  2. Nabhogata-Vighna: Caused by those resident in the sky,
  3. Bhūgata-Vighna: Caused by those resident on earth.

आजानु पादौ प्रक्षाल्य हस्तावामणिबन्धनात् ॥
कार्य त्रिविध विघ्नानां प्रासादादपसारणम् ।
दिव्या नभोगताश्चैव भूगतास्त्रिविधाः स्मृताः ॥
तत्त्व दृष्ट्या तु दिव्यांश्च पुष्पक्षेपान् नभोगतान् ।
पार्णिघातत्रयाद्भौमान् प्रासादादपसारयेत् ॥

  1. to 16.
    Having cleaned his legs up to knees and his hands up to the fists, the sadhaka should proceed to ward off three kinds of obstacles from the surroundings of the temple (or the home shrine). The three obstacles are - those coming from the heavens, those present in the space(atmosphere), and those present in the land. He should drive away the obstacles related to the heavens by looking above with his eyes charged with the perfect knowledge of tattvas. He should expel the space-related obstacles from the shrine by throwing the flowers. He should ward off the earth-related obstacles by striking the ground three times with his right heel.

As one can see, these three are exactly the same in essence, to the Vighnas discussed in the Śhiva Purāṇa.


tl;dr:

As per Śhiva Purāṇa, there are fundamentally three types of Obstacles (Vighnas) viz., Ādhyātmika Vighna, Ādhibhautika Vighna, & Ādhidaivika Vighna, from which Lord Vighneśvara (Gaṇeśha) will protect us, if we worship him.

Furthermore, if one might closely observe, and try to form a 'logical' mapping between the Tāpatraya and the three Vighnas, one might be able to say that these Vighnas are actually the 'material' physical-level manifestation of the Tāpatraya, i.e., preliminary stage of - before when a Hardship ( kaṣhṭa) becomes a Suffering - duḥkha (which I have discussed in this QnA).

Everything has been reconciled in the table below, wrt to the two texts discussed above, and the interrelationships between the Sufferings and the Obstacles :

Sufferings (Tāpatraya) Vighnas (Kāmikāgama) Vighnas (Śhiva Purāṇa) Solution (as per Kāmikāgama)
Ādhibhoutika Duḥkha Nabhogata-Vighna Ādhibhautika Vighna By throwing the flowers.
Ādhidaivika Duḥkha Divya-Vighna Ādhidaivika Vighna By looking above with his eyes charged with the perfect knowledge of tattvas
Ādhyātmika Duḥkha Bhūgata-Vighna Ādhyātmika Vighna By striking the ground three times with his right heel
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