According to Brihat Parashara Hora Shastra (BPHS) the Atmakaraka is of prime importance in a chart. The Atmakaraka is like the King of a chart, and the other planets will give their effects based on the strength of the King (Atmakaraka).
If the Atmakaraka is strong, then the other karakas in the chart will give good results, and the weaker planets will not give their adverse results fully.
If the Atmakaraka is weak, then even if there are strong planets in the chart they will not fully give their beneficial effects.
How do you find the Atmakaraka?
The Atmakaraka is the planet that has traversed the most degrees in the sidereal zodiac out of all the planets. It is the planet with the highest degrees. If there are two planets in the same high degree, then check the minutes and then the seconds.
Out of the nine Grahas (planets), only Ketu is not included as Atmakaraka. Rahu is included, but 30 degrees are to be deducted from Rahu to determine his karaka position.
I will use the current transit chart to find the Atmakaraka.
According to this transit chart, the planet that has traversed the most degrees in the sidereal zodiac is Mars because it is at 29 degrees.
If two planets had 29 degrees in this chart, then you look at the minutes (06′ in the case of Mars in this chart), and if minutes are the same then you’d look at the seconds of arc (57.81 in the case of Mars in this chart).
Before coming to this consideration, however, first subtract 30 degrees from Rahu to make sure Rahu doesn’t compete with Mars in Atmakaraka status. 6-30 = -24
Therefore, Rahu’s degrees would be 24 degrees. It is not higher than Mars’ 29 degrees. So Mars wins the position of Atmakaraka in this chart.
The Atmakaraka is the innermost part of the soul of the person who’s chart you’re looking at. Since according to BPHS it is the King of the chart, we can deduct several things from this. If the King is conducting his business in a virtuous, fair, and proper manner, then all those working under him (other planets in the chart) will conduct their business in a similar manner. The same goes for the opposite: if the King is malicious and conducting his affairs in a weak and disastrous way, those working under him will also conduct their business in a similar fashion.
Therefore, we can see what the general tendencies of the person are when we look at the Atmakaraka. For a whole chapter to be devoted to this in BPHS shows how important this planet is in a chart, and most astrologers do not consider the importance of it in most charts (myself included).
Next time you look at a chart, take a look at what that person’s Atmakaraka is, and how strong or weak that planet is. It will give you an idea of the rest of the chart’s flavor and direction.
How do you judge the Atmakaraka? The same way you judge a planet. You look at the sign, house placement, Nakshatra, and Drekkana (if you’re familiar with the Tarot-like Drekkanas’ symbology).
Also look at the natural significators of the planet itself.
The following is my own basic interpretation of what each planet’s Atmakaraka lessons will be depending on the natural significations of a planet. You can follow a similar reasoning pattern for the other factors of the AK (house & sign placement, etc.):
Sun: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of the Sun. Showing self-expression, being in charge, learning how to execute justice while in charge, being the center of attention, being magnanimous and generous, cultivating creativity, cultivating charity, showing passion and fire in your work, learning to let others shine, learning to defer to others and not always want to be first, learning to become humble, learning to temper pride and express it in healthy ways rather than unhealthy ways that may destroy close relationships.
Moon: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of the Moon. Being nurturing towards those in your immediate vicinity, such as family members, friends and co-workers, etc., caring for others, developing compassion, growing emotionally, helping others in their emotional affairs through showing understanding (not trying to give advice or change the person unless requested), nurturing plants or pets/animals, caregiving the young, the old, or the sick as a mother would, taking care of the home and family, conducting public affairs in a caring and nurturing way.
Mars: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of Mars. Being assertive and aggresive, being athletic, showing strength of body, showing strenght of mind, showing strength of will-power, fighting for the underdog, fighting for justice, tempering the qualities of Mars by channeling anger in a constructive manner, using the force of Mars constructively instead of destructively, making changes in your life through constructive force.
Mercury: You are learning to fine-tune and cultive the qualities of Merucry. Always learning something new, developing writing and speaking skills, learning what your patterns of thought are and re-channeling the less constructive patterns, learning new languages, reading a lot, acquiring knowledge, using knowledge, writing, and/or speaking ability to redirect others in a more positive direction, improving mathematical ability and analytical skills, continuing the learning experience even in old age for a young mind.
Venus: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of Venus. Learning how to give and receive love and affection, learning how to let go in matters of love in a healthy way in order to love more deeply and unconditionally, learning karmic lessons through personal love relationships, developing healthy habits of giving love to others without expecting anything in return, sending love and blessings to everyone that crosses your path (Midas touch of love).
Jupiter: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of Jupiter. Acquiring spiritual wisdom, becoming an expert and leader in one particular subject, teaching others, learning to be expansive and generous, giving in charity, learning how to channel wealth properly, spreading wisdom in all four corners of the world, learning deeper spiritual truths, sharing your truth, accepting other people’s truths without trying to change them, accepting other’s religious views with equanimity.
Saturn: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of Saturn. Learning how to suffer life, learning how to withstand suffering and pain with equanimity of mind, learning yoga of mind and body to acquire equanimity in pain and suffering, learning to become detached in matters aspected by Saturn in a chart, learning detachment and equanimity, helping others in their suffering, helping the sick, the poor, and the elderly live better lives, giving in charity to those in need, helping to reduce the suffering of others.
Rahu: You are learning to fine-tune and cultivate the qualities of Rahu. Learning how to temper your deepest yearnings and desires, learning to let go of your vices, learning to let go of excessive behavior that is destructive in your life, controlling your physical cravings, learning how not to indulge in the things influenced by Rahu in the chart, channeling the desires of Rahu towards the spiritual Sattvic realm and away from Rajas.
Well guys, this was my personal take on the lessons that need to be learned in this lifetime through your Atmakaraka. If it is already strong, then you only need to fine-tune these qualities, as you will already have tempered them in a past life. But if it is weak, these are the things that you need to focus on the most in this life. Channeling your Atmakaraka’s energy in a constructive and loving way in your life and the lives of others.
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