During the battle between Rama and Ravana, Ravana’s son Indrajit is killed. At that point, Ravana calls his brother Ahiravana for help. Now, Ahiravana is the king of Patala (the underworld). (There are many variations to the story. All of them can be interpreted spiritually). Ahiravana promised to help. Vibhishana somehow manages to hear about the plot and warns Rama about it. Hanuman is put on guard and told not to let anyone within the the room where Rama and Lakshmana are. Ahiravana tries to enter the room and makes many attempts but all attempts are thwarted by Hanuman. Finally, Ahiravana takes the form of Vibhishana and Hanuman lets him enter. Ahiravana quickly enters and takes the “sleeping Rama and Lakshmana” away.
When Hanuman realizes what happened, he goes to Vibhishana. Vibhishana says, alas they have been abducted by Ahiravana. If Hanuman does not rescue them fairly quickly, Ahiravana will sacrifice both Rama and Lakshman to Chandi. Hanuman goes to Patala. The door to patala is guarded by a monkey. Hanuman asks him who are you and the monkey says, I am your son! This confuses Hanuman, since he did not have any child. He was an adept Brahmachari and knew it to be impossible. The son explains, while you were jumping over the ocean, a drop of your sweat fell in the ocean and in the mouth of a fish called “Makardwaja”. This is the orgin of my birth.
After getting the cooperation of his son, Hanuman enters Patala. He encounters Ahiravana and Mahiravana. They had a strong army and Hanuman is told that the only way to vanquish them is by blowing of 5 different candles located in 5 different directions, all at the same time. So, at this point, Hanuman assumes the form with 5 heads (Panchmukhi Hanuman) and he quickly blows of the 5 different candles and thus kills Ahiravana and Mahiravana. Through out the saga, both Rama and Lakshmana are rendered unconscious by a spell by the demons.
Now for the interpretation.
1) I have to start of by an interpretation given by Yoganada about Makar or makardwaja. In Bhagvad Gita, Krishna bhagwan says, amongst the fish he is Makar. Makar meaning shark. The shark is the king of all fish and devours all other fish in the ocean. The spiritual interpretation is that, “Bhavsagar” or this world is full of the fish of desire. However, there is one fish that devours all other fish – the shark. In other words, there is one desire that devours all other desires. That is the desire for God is the one desire that devours all other desires.
2) Vibhishana is true Bhakti. When the demon takes the form of Vibhishana, it is the fake Bhakti that everyone performs (lighting candles, singing songs, hymns, etc), Rama and Lakshmana are rendered unconsciouss. Meaning that form of Bhakti does not have the power to awaken Brahma gyana or love or passion for God. The true Bhakti which Rama accepted was that of Vibhishana where he gave himself up to Rama unconditionally. For us, also, true Bhakti starts when we give ourself up completely to God. But in order to give ourself upto God, we must first know ourself as the soul (not just a mass of thoughts or emotions).
3) Like I have repeatedly tried to explain, there are 2 pranas – universal prana which is the same as Shakti and the individual prana which works in the body taking care of all of its need. Patala here refers to the body, Hanumana is the universal prana and his son, is the individual prana taking of patala or the body. Ahiravana and Mahiravana are Raga and Dvesha (attachment and hatred). One needs the cooperation of the individual prana to go within, and destroy the 5 candles referring to the 5 lower chakras. Thus when the 5 lower chakras are turned upwards, Raga and Dvesha are destroyed. Liberation is still far, because “Ravana is still alive at Agna chakra”.
There are other variations to the story which I will try to explain at some other point.