Atma means Self, while karaka means Indicator. There are naturally two grahas that are called Atmakaraka in the chart. One is natural (naisargik) and another is temporal (chara). Natural Atmakaraka in each chart is Surya, while chara Atmakaraka in each chart is calculated in accordance with a placement of a Graha in a sign.
Sun is an indicator of dharma (Natural Law principle). It rules self, innate nature and intelligence. While Moon rules manas (mind), sun is an indicator of Atman (a transcendental Self) which is unborn and undying, beyond the relative field of existence. Sun is a natural indicator for a first house affairs or Lagna. It rules natural 5th house of a zodiac, and along with Guru, it has a say over Dhi-Shakti, an intelligence coupled with wisdom, proper growth of the mind, and mantra-primordial sound that reflects the transcendental Impulse of Natural Law.
While the scholars are still divided in opinion whether to use seven or eight charakarak scheme, Parasara and Jaimini are clear in their preference to the latter. Thus I am describing the role of Atmakaraka, having in mind 8 Chara karaka scheme, as recommended by the sages.
Let’s see what Parasara says about Atmakaraka:“O Brahmin, just as the minister cannot go against the king, the other karakas, viz, Putrakaraka, Amatyakaraka etc. cannot predominate over Atmakaraka in the affairs of the native. If the Atmakaraka is adverse, other karakas cannot give their benefic effects (fully). Similarly, if Atmakaraka is favorable, other karakas cannot predominate with their malefic influences.”
Atmakaraka is the most personal planet in the chart. It is the king of the horoscope. Its role is to protect, as the king protects his kingdom and territory. Being the most personal planet, it has the strongest say over Moksha (final emancipation) and for that reason, the 12th house from the Atmakaraka in the Navamsa chart (dharmamsa) is used to ascertain the ishtadevata or the personal Deity who will guide the soul to its real home – Moksha. Thus, the main role of Atmakaraka is to purify the soul. Therefore, the position of Atmakaraka in a chart describes the suffering of a soul, obstacles and bad karma which are all meant to cleanse the soul from its sins, and promote rise and evolution. It is for that reason that house placement of Atmakaraka as well as Arudha ruled by it are indicative of disturbed areas of life, where a person has to work unselfishly to ward off the previous sins. For that reason, a person will suffer most while given the opportunity to progress most through the instrument of Atmakaraka power. While different astrologers opine that Atmakaraka places will be beneficial for a chart owner, it has been the case that house placement of Atmakaraka becomes very sensitive in a person’s life, where the obstacles and sufferings are found, giving rise to personal growth and evolution. However, to make it clear, Atmakaraka doesn’t necessarily indicate suffering by its mere placement. There may be happiness under the conditions set by Atmakaraka/spiritual inclinations. Let’s examine a few charts:
Shani is both Atmakaraka and yoga karaka, and it is retrograde and placed in mritavasta, as well as Rasi sandhi. Shani is placed in dharmamsa (Mithun Navamsa). Shani is also strong in own sign while its placement in 8th house from Al is not good. In shani mahadasha, a lady gave birth to 3 children, the 1st pregnancy was lost, due to mrith avasta of Shani and dristi of a strong Maraka – Mangal. After the last childbirth, she has developed post child-birth depression. Being a very caring mother, she is too concerned for her children. Her huge sense of responsibility (Shani) towards her children, made her give up all personal enjoyment.
Due to these troubles, this person started meditation and finished a homeopathic course, and she spends a few hours daily in meditation and prayers. Thus we can see both the punishing and purifying role of Shani in her chart.
Atmakaraka Mangal is in own sign in 7th house and the person is a dedicated ISKCON follower. He is still unmarried and his spiritualism and ascetic way of living are very pronounced so far.
Otherwise, Guru and Mangal combination in 7th house should be conducive to an early householders life.
Atmakaraka Shani is placed in 4th house and the person had to renounce a part of his own property for the benefit of his elder sister.
The difficulties met by this person and the responsibilities in domestic life were huge.
These had a purifying effect and firmly grounded the personal life into a spiritual direction.
Atmakaraka Mangal in the 4th house has given the most terrible experiences in 4th house affairs – viz., early loss of mother and a younger brother falling ill.
The person’s Mangal mahadasha was the most terrible.
The person spent it in prayers and meditation. Her Rahu mahadasha is on at present and she has completely dedicated herself to the spiritual life.
Atmakaraka Mangal is in neecha in 12th house (deepest debilitation degree), and in Mangal mahadasha she
- lost her property,
- kept facing losses and expenses,
- had great difficulties,
however, her life views have changed and she took an interest in Jyotish (astrology) and spiritualism.
Atmakaraka Venus is exalted in 10th house giving rise to Pancha Maha Purusha Yoga.
The person is a businessman, while in Venus mahadasha he has to work very hard, facing with a great difficulties and troubles in professional life, while at the same time started to fast, changed his attitudes and has taken life more seriously admitting its spiritual dimension.
It is worth mentioning that Venus has given excellent professional growth, yet coupled with immense difficulties sometimes.
It is my own observation that natural benefic Atmakaraka tends to punish in a milder way, comparing to natural malefic Atmakaraka.
Atmakaraka Mercury has lost a planetary war to Jupiter, and even though in own sign (Virgo) in Kendra to AL
the person is still unmarried and unsuccessful in personal life and profession.
Note that mercury is both 7th and 10th lord.
She has met various obstacles in professional life and a great source of difficulties.
However, due to her humble and chaste character she is dealing with troubles well. She has developed utmost patience and servitude in her life.
Atmakaraka Sun is well placed in 4th house along with Mercury with Neechabhanga.
She is an instructor of meditation, while her troubles with property, and all 4th house significations started after the relatively premature death of her father.
She has met various troubles from influential people in spiritual movement. She is still unmarried (sun is lord of Upapada)
It is evident in all cases, that Atmakaraka has created disturbances in all matters signified by its placement. Depending on the person’s attitude, one has either learnt the lessons given by Atmakaraka and turned to spiritual life, or continued suffering.
Thus, by no means will Atmakaraka improve the house significations in a standard way (as will lord of Lagna for example) The king of the chart has one single motive – to ward off the sins from previous birth, and to cleanse the person by giving suffering and pains, thereby setting the soul towards the higher planes.
OM TAT SAT