Many people believe that praying to Lord Ganesha (Vighnaharta being another name) on Sankashti ends all your difficulties. But, very few know how this Chaturthi came to be known as Sankashti and why does one pray to Lord Ganesha. In the old scriptures, the story holds good even till today, as it had a special significance due to a monumental incident that occurred.
Once Lord Indra was travelling through Earth in his plane (Indra Vahan) after visiting Sage Brushundi, who was a great practitioner of Indian meditation. Whilst passing through King Shursen’s kingdom, one of the subjects, who was a great sinner, eyed the plane and made Lord Indra land on the spot. Whilst on a routine tour, King Shursen espied Lord Indra and was surprised to see him in his kingdom. Welcoming him, King Shursen asked the reason for Lord Indra’s visit. Lord Indra told the king, “O Great King, you have a great sinner amongst your subjects. While passing through your kingdom that great sinner looked upon my plane and that made my plane stop. Therefore, my plane has malfunctioned and hence I cannot return back to Indra-Loka.”
Hearing this King Shursen was upset. Everyone in the kingdom was looking for a way to end Lord Indra’s difficulties. As nobody had any solution, Sage Brushundi was called upon to resolve the issue. Having realized the situation, Sage Brushundi said that only the most pious and pure at heart, who has prayed to Lord Ganesha on Chaturthi would be able to save Lord Indra from this mess. Sage Brushundi further detailed the Sankashti Vrat routine. “The Ganesh bhakt who meditates in an aromatic atmosphere with camphor and Kevda scent is one true worshipper. He should fast by eating sago khichdi (sabudana khichdi), potato, fruits, cucumber etc. At the end of the day i.e. after the moon rises, the devotee who prays to Vighnaharta by chanting Ganesh Strotram, antharvashirsh mantra and arti song will find himself of great virtue.”
However, in the kingdom of King Shursen, there was no one who had worshipped in the manner as described by Sage Brushundi. While everyone was trying to find solution, Lord Indra noticed some Ganesh-Duta (messengers of Lord Ganesh) carrying an old lady back to Ganesh-Loka (the place where Lord Ganesha resides). Lord Indra asked the kind Dutas why they were taking the old lady to Ganesh Loka? The Duta replied, “Yesterday was chaturthi and this old lady has fasted and prayed to Lord Ganesh. Lord Ganesha was impressed and has given her a wish “The Moksha” by which she had attained her place in Ganesh Loka.
After hearing this, Lord Indra humbly asked the old lady to share her virtue so that he could continue his journey back to Indra-Loka. However, the Ganesh Duta did not agree to this as they had strict orders to bring the old lady in Ganesh Loka. Meanwhile in Ganesh Loka, Lord Ganesha was keenly observing the happenings. Still concerned about his difficult situation, Lord Indra prayed to Lord Ganesha with atharvashirsh mantra but to no avail. Seeing this, finally, The Ganesh Duta and the old lady moved along through the place where Lord Indra’s plane had stopped; and to their surprise, with just the aura of the virtue of the old lady, the plane started again. Seeing the mystical power of Sankashti Punya, King Shursen declared Sankashti Chaturthi as the most virtuous fast of the month. Therefore, from that day on, people have started following Sankashti Chaturthi in the name of Lord Ganesha who eradicates all the obstacles forever.
In the Hindu calendar, the fourth day of the month is termed as Chaturthi. Sankashti Chaturthi or Sankathara Chaturthi which is dedicated to Lord Vighnaharta is the auspicious day that falls on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha in every lunar month. Of these, the Chaturthi that falls on Tuesday is dedicated to Lord Ganesha and is known as Angarika Chaturthi.