In the Hindu faith, Hanuman is the monkey god, the commander of the monkey army, and a symbol of strength and energy. According to some traditions, Hanuman's strength comes from his celibacy. Hanuman is venerated for his unyielding devotion to Lord Rama, who, in return for his dedication, gifted Hanuman with eternal life.
Hanuman is the central figure in the Hindu epic "Ramayana." In the "Ramayana," Hanuman meets Lord Rama during his period of exile and helps Rama find his wife, who has been kidnapped by Ravana. It is during his journey with Rama that Hanuman realizes he has many gifts, including the ability to flight and to change his form. After Hanuman and Rama succeed in rescuing Rama's wife, Hanuman travels to the Himalayas, where he writes of his journey with Rama.
Once Hanuman learned to shapeshift, he assumed many forms in order to better assist Rama in finding his wife. One of these forms, the Panchamukhi or five-faced form was essential to defeat a powerful black magician during the journey. This form has become one of the most commonly-used in depictions of Hanuman, with a face pointing in each direction: north, south, east, west and upward toward the sky. Each of these directions has its own associated prayer.