Panchmukhi Hanumana

The story behind Lord Hanumana’s panchmukhi roopa

Ravan had a brother called Ahiravan. He was the ruler of Pataal Lok( the netherworld), and a master of illusion and magic. When Meghnad was killed by Lakshmana, and Ravan was losing the battle against Ram, he reached out to Ahiravan for help.

Ahiravan promised to capture Ram and Lakshman alive, take them to his kingdom, where he would sacrifice them to the Goddess Mahamaya. Vibhishan came to know of Ahiravan’s plans, informs Ram and Lakshman of this, makes necessary arrangements and asks Hanuman to keep guard over them.

He also told Hanuman, that Ahiravan is a master of disguise, and to be careful of any trickery. Ahiravan tries to enter the place, where Ram and Lakshman are sleeping, in various disguises, but Hanuman manages to thwart him. Finally he assumes the guise of Vibhishan himself, and gets past Hanuman, abducts Ram and Lakshman to Pataal Lok.

When Hanuman finds he has been tricked by Ahiravan, he vows to find Ram and Lakshman, and kill Ahiravan. Hanuman goes down into the Patala Loka, where he finds Ahiravan’s massive palace, that is heavily guarded on all sides.

He first has to contend with the guard, Makardhwaja, who is half Vanara, half fish, and also happens to be Hanuman’s son in a way too. After defeating his son, Hanuman makes his way into Ahiravan’s palace and learns that the way to kill Ahiravan is to extinguish 5 different lamps in different directions.  

This is when Hanuman assumes his Panchamukha Anjaneya form here.The 4 faces of Hanuman, Varaha, Garuda and Narasimha face East, South, West and North respectively, while the 5th face of Hayagriva, faces upwards.

Panchmukhi Hanumana

Panchmukhi Hanumana

In this form, Hanuman manages to extinguish the 5 different lamps all at one time, and goes on to kill Ahiravan with one swift stroke of the knife. Thus he manages to save Ram and Lakshman, and bring them back from Patala Loka, where they resume the battle against Ravan.

Ram, Lakshman and Hanumana

Ram, Lakshman and Hanumana