Lord Hanuman is an important deity in the entire pantheon of Hinduism. Immortality is one of his well-known divine powers. It’s said that he is still alive and keeps visiting the tribal people in the forest of Sri Lanka from time to time.
He is primarily regarded as a demigod bestowed with divine powers and abilities. Hanuman first appears as the chief commander of the monkey army in the epic Ramayana, and then several times in the Mahabharata, assisting and blessing the Pandavas in their fight against the Kauravas.
If everyone in the world only knew the names of a few hand-picked Hindu gods, Hanuman would be the second most popular Hindu god after Lord Ganesha (the elephant god in Hinduism). He is the youngest son of Devi Anjana and Lord Vayu (the god of wind), earning him the title Vayu Putra, or The Son of Air.
Lord Hanuman Doesn’t Have An Avatar, He Has Forms
Being an immortal demi-god, Hanuman doesn’t have any avatars like other supreme gods like Vishnu or Shiva have, for example. However, the mention of his five forms, can be found in several puranas, folk stories, demonstrating his divine status.
Although you should keep it in mind that these are not the same as avatars or incarnations. Here, Hanuman is simply depicted with many heads and arms to represent his great powers. You can imagine it similar to adopting a new shape or appearance.
The 5 Forms (‘रूप/Roop’) of Lord Hanuman
Sankat Mochan (The Saviour form of Hanuman)
The depiction of Lord Hanuman in Sankat Mochan form, is hugely popular among its devotees. The reason simply is in its name: “Sankat Mochan”, which literary means “one who rescues from danger”. Devotees worship this form of Hanuman to seek his divine blessing, and to get rid of any life difficulties faced.
Tulsidas, a well-known devotee of Lord Rama, wrote the famous Ramcharitmanas. This is the book that first popularized the Sankata Mochana aspect of Hanuman among the masses. Hanuman is depicted in this form, holding a mountain in one hand and a mace in the other.
Virat Swarup (The Gigantic Form Of Hanuman)
According to the original Valmiki Ramayana, Hanuman displayed his Virat Swarup in front of Devi Sita (the wife of Lord Rama). The term “Virat Swarup” simply refers to his gigantic form, where Hanuman expanded his body to enormous proportions. It should not be confused with Lord Krishna’s Virat Swaroop in the Mahabharata.
Hanuman displayed this form to Sita becuase he wanted to demonstrate that he was sent directly by her husband, Lord Rama. So that she could have faith in him. The mention of this gigantic form of Hanuman can also be found in Mahabharata, Chapter 150, Vana-Parva, where he is shown presenting himself to Bheem in this very gigantic form.
Das Maruti (As a Devotee of Lord Ram)
In the entire Indian literature, when it comes to defining the characteristics of an ideal devotee, Lord Hanuman comes out on top as the most ideal and purest devotee of all time. One of the reasons why the epic Ramayana became so popular among Hindus can also be linked to the Dasa Maruti form of Lord Hanuman, in which he is depicted as a committed devotee of Lord Rama.
Many texts describe his great power as a result of his pure and unconditional devotion to Rama. Several scriptures even have been written that focus on the devotional profile of his personality.
Panchmukhi Hanuman (The Five-Headed Form Of Hanuman)
In this form, Hanuman is shown with five heads, ten arms, and a variety of divine weapons. The front face is of Hanuman himself, while on the right side there are the heads of a lion and a horse, representing Lord Narasimha and Lord Hayagriva. On the left, there are the heads of an eagle and a boar, representing Lord Garuda and Lord Varaha, respectively.
According to the epic Ramayana, Lord Hanuman took this Panchamukhi form to rescue Lord Rama and Lakshmana from Ahiravana (the lord of hell). This form shows the combination of various godly powers Hanuman possesses, and can control them if needed.
Ekadasa Mukha Hanuman
Ekadasa Mukha is one of the rarest forms of Hanuman, where he is shown with 11 heads, and 22 hands holding divine weapons. While the exact mention of this form cannot be traced, in traditional practices, the Ekadasa Mukha Hanuman represents the ultimate godly status of Hanuman.
If you study the Ramayana epics, you will notice that Lord Hanuman is unlike any other demi-god or deity. He always kept calling himself the most faithful and devoted servant of Lord Rama, and because of this one-of-a-kind quality of his personality, he’s become one of the most beloved gods among the Hindus.