EYE ON ASTROLOGY: ATMAKARAKA–JOURNEY OF THE SOUL
The great sage, Maharishi Parashara, had devotee called Maharishi Jaimini who did commentaries on some of Parashara’s materials. In those days there might have been a 2-3 hour talk and it was remembered by a sutra that was memorized. Jaimini wrote these down and created the Upadesa Sutras . I have been obsessed by the richness of Jaimini astrology and its spiritual orientation and have embarked on some advanced studies with it and find it very satisfying to study.
One of the key concepts is called the Chara Atmakaraka, the King of the chart, which is the planet with the highest number of degrees in your chart with exception of Rahu if it is the lowest number of degrees. The goal of the Atmakaraka is to guide the soul toward self-realization by purging obstructing tendencies and the results of karmas that damage the progress of the soul. The Atmakaraka is the ruler of this incarnation and has a special role. It is connected to the 1st house giving it that benefic quality but also the 8th house creating deep and surprising karmic lessons beyond expectations. Here is list of basic lessons that it teaches if it is the highest degree (or lowest with Rahu) in your chart. KN Rao’s tradition feels there is only 7 Atmakarakas and does not include Rahu while Sanjay Rath’s tradition from Orissa includes Rahu.
The lessons of the Atmakaraka are often related to the qualities of the planet involved but they often require learning the darker more afflicted qualities. They are deeply connected to the lessons of this incarnation. The specific meaning of the Atmakakra will be colored by the sign that it is in, the house, the nakshatra, the position in the Navamsha chart, the position from the moon. This can require hours of study is very exciting for pinpointing the purpose of the soul’s journey in this incarnation.
Here is a thumb-nail summary of lessons to be learned by the planet in your chart with the highest number of degrees ( or lowest for Rahu) :
Sun: Learning humility and over-coming pride and self-importance. The Sun likes to be the center of attention (take Leos) but when Sun is the Atmakarka it has to learn to ask for help and realize that it has flaws and is far from perfect. They may be frustrated in their desire for fame and power and success and have to realize that it’s ok to be a team player. The Sun is often too over-powering in relationship that it may burn others quickly and the lessons are often learning how to pull in their solar flares and their ego and learn to be in relationship and let others in.
Moon: The need to learn compassion and sensitivity for others. There is a continual fleeting search for happiness because the moon is changing signs every 2.5 days and this creates a restlessness. Often this can manifest in changing relationship or looking for the ideal partner and the key lesson is to enjoy every partner that you experience and not think that the next one will be better. There is a continual search for peace of mind and questing but they are never clear where they are going and need to just find happiness in the present moment. The lunar day you are born on, whether the moon is waxing or waning will particularly impact this one.
Mars: Practicing non-violence in speech and action. The lesson is often learning to accept defeat, and be patient and even be bored which is not the nature of Mars, who wants to conquer. Humility will be important. This soul often has to learn the higher aspects of Mars which is to fight injustice and oppression but not through physical or verbal violence. The wars that Mars must fight are inner wars, struggling with repressed anger and their is a need to learn to harness that energy for the good of others. Find a way to channel your burning fire within into exercise and service and do not let it seethe and burn you up.
Mercury: Speaking the truth and communicating only that which is uplifting. This means moving beyond gossiping and being careful to associate with the right people and not get influenced by the wrong crowd. Mercury Atamakaraka may tend to over-analyze everything so moving beyond the intellect and into the heart is key. They have to learn to trust their intuition and stop questioning everything as this never leads to peace. Because Mercury is mutable and takes on the planets it connects with, Mercury Atmakaraka can become quite complex. A key to Mercury Atmakaraka is learning to listen and not misinterpret others so taking listening and communications classes will be important for this soul’s journeys.
Jupiter: The native must assume the role of the protector of others as a parent or teacher. These people may not want to teach but that is their mission on this planet. They tend to be very wise and can tap easily into the Guru within and they naturally become advisors and teachers but they often lack the confidence that they are good enough to play that role. They need to trust their abilities and guide people when they ask. Because Jupiter is the Karaka for husbands, gurus and children, women especially will have life-long journey and challenges with husbands and children. Usually this requires acceptance rather than wanting to change others. If Jupiter is very afflicted, it can create know-it-all personalities that eventually fail so learning to be humble in helping others and know that you do not know everything or can possibly know everything is very important.
Venus: Learning control of the physical passions and excessive sensual experiences and learning to master relationships. This is a powerful Atmakarka as Venus AK, is like a genie who can manifest their desires and wishes but like the stories in the 1001 Arabian Nights, you have to be careful for what you wish for. For men, this AK can teach you to accept imperfect spouses and learning to control your passions and conserve your vital sexual energies and this is often key. There can be battles around love and emotion because Venus is a water planet so it will be important to master your emotions and realize they are always changing and will never feel complete. and happy with another partner.
Saturn: The planet of suffering has to learn how not to give pain, grief or sorrow to others and often takes on the suffering of others and has to learn how to share their burdens. This is a difficult Atamakaraka because it usually can lead to a great deal of suffering in life and then the key to take all of that experience and help others and lift their burdens. The goal of Saturn Atmakaraka is to move beyond suffering and realize that through meditation and service you can move off the wheel of karma. If Saturn is strong in the chart, then Saturn AK may be able to deal with grief and suffering with a sense of detachment with great stoicism. Saturn is the planet of responsibility so must face those tasks with bravery and continue to go through life. A weak Saturn AK ie in Aries may be subject to hard labor and may shun responsibility and has to learn to work hard and face responsibility. Part of the journey of Saturn AK is unburden the pains of the past and childhood and let go of the past and accept the challenging nature of life. God never promised that this incarnation would be a picnic on the beach.
Rahu: One has to suffer by the deception of others and often finds himself cheated and betrayed and thus the native has to learn how to be pure and honest and straight-forward. This Atmakaraka is generated if Rahu has the least degree in your chart, often 0-2 and there are no planets at 28-30) Ketu is not included in the scheme of eight because he is always guiding the soul toward liberation. Often Rahu AK may suffer surprise and unexpected events and betrayals, dis-loyalties and thefts. The key lesson is to continue to trust God and your path forward and ask forgiveness for the hurts you have done to others as Rahu AK is very karmic. One has to learn to curb ambition, be totally ethical, control the senses and desires. Rahu has a very spiritual side so turning to meditation is always key. One has to learn that desire are never complete in the material world and only in the Divine Self can the happiness it seeks be completed. Because Rahu can have a great deal of unconscious fear and emotional storms, it has to find stability in meditation or be a boat without a sail tossed by the waves. Because Rahu is colored by the planets it is conjunct and the sign it is in, there are many flavors of this unique Atmakaraka
The house, constellation, 1/9 division (navamsha), planets aspecting the Atmakaraka and even the devas at various degrees will further color the qualities and lessons of the Planet of the Soul or Atmakaraka.
When one goes into the deepest roots of astrology, one discovers its deep spiritual essence and purpose to guide the soul to liberation and moksha off the wheel of karma.
I have a whole course on this material on my website:
Special thanks to my teachers, Komilla Sutton, Robert Koch and Sanjay Rath for their continuing guidance.
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