What is Panchamukhi Hanuman?
Panchamukhi Hanuman represents the five faces of Hanuman. The other four faces are Hayagriva, Narasimha, Garuda, and Varaha* (this was the third avatar of Vishnu).
What is the story of Panchamukhi Hanuman?
Ahiravan was the ruler of Patal Lok, also known as the underworld, and was the brother of the demon Ravana. Ahiravan was known for his illusions. When Ravana’s son was killed by Lakshmana, Ravana was sad and summoned his brother, who decided not to fight. However, as a devotee of Goddess Mahamaya and one who sacrificed humans to her, he agreed to kidnap Rama and Lakshmana to sacrifice them to Goddess Mahamaya. Hanuman, as one who was extremely loyal to the brothers, created a shield around their cottage. When Ahiravan disguises himself, Hanuman does not fall for the trick until he disguises himself as Vibhishan, who told them about Ahiravan’s plans. Hanuman was fooled.
Ahiravan then kidnapped them. Hanuman then tries to rescue them, with advice from Vibhishan. Fun fact: It is said that in Patal Lok, everything is backward. Gravity pulls things away instead of together, fire cools things down instead of burning them, and the progress of time was backward. Hanuman travels to Patal Lok, and after fighting his own son (who is so dedicated to Ahiravan and receives a blessing from Hanuman for his devotion and commitment), he finds out that the only way of killing Ahiravan is by putting out five different lamps at the same times that face in different directions. Using the form of Panchamukhi Hanuman, he is able to do so, and kills Ahiravan and rescues Rama and Lakshmana.
* The story of Varaha was mentioned in the “Ten Avatars of Vishnu” article I wrote, but here it is for reference. The story of the Varaha avatar begins with Lord Vishnu’s abode in Vaikunta, which was guarded by Jaya and Vijaya. One day, Lord Brahma’s sons came to meet Lord Vishnu. Jaya and Vijaya stopped them from entering. They cursed them to be born as humans on the earth. They pleaded but were not listened to. Lord Vishnu later apologized and said that they were doing their job. The sons left, saying that the curse could not be taken back. Lord Vishnu then told his guards that the only way to undo the curse was to be killed by Lord Vishnu. They agreed and were born as Hiranyakashipu and Hiranyaksha. Hiranyaksha was a devotee of Lord Brahma, who offered him a boon that stated that no god, human, Asura, Deva, animal, or Beat could kill him. Hiranyaksha started harming people since he was immortal.
He grew so powerful that mother earth trembled as he took steps and the sky trembled when he shouted. He invaded Indra’s palace, and the Devas were so scared that they hid in the caves of the earth. Hiranyaksha grabbed the earth and caused Mother Earth to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Lord Brahma became worried, but realizing the boon he granted, he said that they needed to take the help of Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu became a tiny boar that soon grew so big that it was the size of a large mountain, and he did this because Hiranyaksha forgot to mention a boar when accepting the offer of a boon. After fighting for a long while, Hiranyaksha was defeated and Mother Earth was saved.