During the war between Lord Ram and Ravana in Ramayana, Ravana took the help of Ahiravana, king of Patala.
In order to protect Lord Ram and Lakshman, Lord Hanuman formed a fortress with his tail. Ahiravana disguised himself as Vibhishana, the noble brother of Ravana and took Lord Ram and Lakshman to Patala loka.
Hanuman entered patala loka in search of Ram and Lakshman, He found that life of Ahiravana was hidden in the five lamps which were placed in different directions. He could be killed only by extinguishing all five lamps at the same time. To accomplish this Hanuman had to take the form of Panchamukhi Hanuman.
This form of Hanuman has five faces. Narasimha, Garuda, Varaha and Hayagriva are the other four faces along with Hanuman’s face. Using these five faces in different directions of the lamp, Hanuman blows air out to extinguish them, thereby killing Ahiravana in the process.
According to Hanumath Prakaranam in Sri Vidyarnavatantram, Anjaneya has five faces (Pancha Mukha) and ten weapons. Hanuman is a great yogi (mystic) having transcended the five senses (Pancha Indriyas).
In Kamba Ramayanam (in Tamil), the significance of number five is beautifully narrated as follows:
- The son of one of the five elements (Vayu or Wind)
- crossed one of the five elements (water – the ocean)
- through one of the five elements (sky)
- met the daughter of one of the five elements (Prithvi or Earth – Sita)
- Burnt down Lanka by the use of one of the five elements (fire).
Sundara Kandam, which highlights the heroic exploits of Lord Hanuman at Lanka is the fifth canto in the Ramayana. This is probably the reason why it is advised to go around the Hanuman idol five times or 14, 23, 41 – the sums of these digits give a total of five.
East facing Anjaneya grants humanity purity of mind and manifestation of desire.
South facing Karala Ugraveera Narasimha grants humanity welfare for all.
West facing Mahaveera Garuda grants humanity Sakala Sowbhagya or good luck.
North facing Lakshmi Varaha grants humanity Dhana Prapti or prosperity and wealth.
Urdhva Mukha Hayagriva (facing upwards) grants humanity Sarva Vidya Jaya Prapti or complete welfare and happiness of the world.
Each head also signifies a particular trait. Hanuman denotes courage and strength, Narasimha fearlessness, Garuda magical skills and the power to cure snake bites, Varaha health, exorcism and Hayagriva victory over enemies.
The Panchmukhi Hanuman Stuti is a potent stotra meant to praise each of the five forms, helps to alleviate troubles and keep evil forces away. It serves as a protection to devotees who chant the stotra with utmost faith:
ओम नमो भगवते पंचवदनाय पूर्वकपिमुखाय सकलशत्रुसंहारकाय स्वाहा|
ओम नमो भगवते पंचवदनाय दक्षिणमुखाय करालवदनाय नरसिंहाय सकलभूतप्रमथनाय स्वाया|
ओम नमो भगवते पंचवदनाय पश्चिममुखाय गरूडाननाय सकलविषहराय स्वाहा|
ओम नमो भगवते पंचवदनाय उत्तरमुखाय आदिवराहाय सकलसंपत्कराय स्वाहा|
ओम नमो भगवते पंचवदनाय उर्ध्वमुखाय हयग्रीवाय सकलजनवशकराय स्वाहा|
Om namo bhagavathe panchavadanaaya poorva kapi mukhe
Sakala shatru samhaarnaaya swaaha
Om namo bhagavathe panchavadanaaya dakshina mukhe
Karaala vadanaaya Narasimhaaya sakala bhoota praeta pramadanaaya swaaha
Om namo bhagavathe panchavadanaaya paschima mukhe
Garudaaya sakala visha haranaaya swaaha
Om namo bhagavathe panchavadanaaya uthara mukhe
Aadivarahaaya sakala sampatkaraaya swaaha
Om namo bhagavathe panchavadanaaya oordhwa mukhe
Hayagrivaaya sakala jana vasheekaranaaya swaaha
The East facing form of Lord Hanuman protects devotees from problems caused by enemies. He provides happiness and fulfills wishes.
The South facing form of Lord Narasimha removes all types of fear, sins, unfavorable influences of spirits and demons, and fulfills our wishes.
The West facing form of Lord Garuda removes all types of ailments, negativities, black magic, poison, and fear.
The North facing form of Lord Varaha provides the ashta aishwarya (eight different forms of wealth).
The upwards facing form of Lord Hayagriva helps devotees attract the goodwill of people. The words of His devotees turn into reality. He bestows them with advancement in seeking knowledge, good company of friends, intelligence, good children, and salvation.
Panchmukhi Hanuman is considered to be the most auspicious gods in Hinduism.