The Importance of the Atmakaraka, the King of our Birth Chart


Atma means soul, and Karaka stands for significator. The Atmakaraka is the significator of the individual soul in a Vedic birth chart and shows the inner soul nature of the native. The planet that assumes the role of the Atmakaraka reveals the seed longing and inclination within a person, what it is that pushes them towards the world.

According to the ancient Vedic texts, the individual soul (Jivatman) is a spark of light seated in the human heart chakra (Anahata). Parashara, one of the venerable sages of Vedic astrology, speaks of Jivatman also as asta-atman (asta = eight), because the individual soul is not one fibre of white light but has eight layers in the seven colours of the rainbow, plus the colour black, and that eight-folded spark of light extends in the eight cardinal directions.

The eight layers of the soul correlate to the eight building blocks of the soul and the eight associated planets: the five Tattvas or elements (Earth, ruled by Mercury – Water, ruled by Venus - Fire, ruled by Mars - Air, ruled by Saturn - Ether, ruled by Jupiter), plus the two luminaries (Sun & Moon), and desire (Rahu). That means that Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Rahu are the eight Chara Karakas or significators of different aspects of our life: Atmakaraka, Amatyakaraka, Bhrattrikaraka, Matrikaraka, Pitrikaraka, Putrakaraka, Gnatikaraka, and Darakaraka. They are unique to every individual soul because they take their place based on the longitude of arc traversed by the planets in the birth chart.[i]

The Atmakaraka (AK) is the planet farthest advanced by degrees in any of the 12 signs. It means that he planet closest to 30º becomes the Atmakaraka or king of the chart as it is the one loaded with most karma. It is the planet who decides the outline of the present life because it knows what karma must be worked on for the spiritual evolution of the individual soul.

Next in descending order is the Amatyakaraka (AmK), indicating the soul level karma related to the work and career of the native, followed by the Bhratrikaraka (BK) which stands for knowledge and spiritual teachers. The Matrikaraka (MK) speaks of the karma related to mother and homeland, the Pitrikaraka (PiK) represents the father and religion, and the Putrakaraka (PK) refers to children and lineage. Finally, the Gnatikaraka (GK) signifies the family or support group of the native, and the Darakaraka (DK) indicates the spouse. This is always the planet with the lowest degree, closest to 0º, and the planet with least karma, which is why we can perdure in that relationship.

In this article, we will focus on the Atmakaraka. Let us have a look at this representation of Anahata Chakra:

In ancient Jyotish literature, the heart chakra is depicted as a lotus flower with twelve outer and eight inner petals. The twelve outer petals stand for the twelve month of the year and represent the inner zodiac of the human being. Sun (Atman or life force) and Moon (Manas or mind) meet very 30 days, that is twelve times in one solar year. The eight inner petals stand for the eight karmic variables (Chara Karakas) of the individual human soul, with the Sun expanding to the East, Venus to the Southeast, Mars to the South, Rahu to the Southwest, Saturn to the West, Moon to the Northwest, Mercury to the North, and Jupiter to the Northeast. The inner circle stands for Paramatman, the universal soul with which the individual soul aspires to merge.

The pointing into eight different directions shows the sometimes-conflicting functioning of different tendencies in the person, through whose mind the soul sees, always striving to burn karma. Vedic astrology studies the Atmakaraka and the other Chara Karakas of the native to understand what the seed desire is and what are the other inclinations of the individual soul.[i]

When the SUN becomes the Atmakaraka, the native holds a deep value for honour, respect, and leadership. Self-confidence and self-empowerment must be gained, but with the necessary humility. The MOON as Atmakaraka shows a very caring and compassionate soul, and the natives most certainly need to work on attachments and must learn to handle their fluctuating emotional nature. MARS as Atmakaraka shows an action-orientated warrior with lots of energy, but natives could be overly aggressive or competitive. They need to learn playfulness and how to rest and relax. And they are called to follow the path of non-violence (Ahimsa).

Natives with MERCURY as Atmakaraka are logical, intellectual, interested in information and communication. They need to learn truthfulness, debate less and embody fully. When JUPITER becomes the Atmakaraka, the native seeks wisdom and wants to expand consciousness. It is important for them to respect other’s different opinions, honour the guru, their partners, and children. With VENUS as Atmakaraka, there is an affinity for aesthetics, art, beauty, creativity, and sensuality. The soul wants to lead a harmonious and balanced life, and natives need to watch out for extremes in romance and sexuality.

When SATURN becomes the Atmakaraka, the native is humble and disciplined, and concerned about suffering and its alleviation. They need to learn compassion instead of self-pity. With time they become servants of life. RAHU is probably the most difficult Atmakaraka because natives must face great challenges due to the soul’s aspiration to unveil the full mystical and occult potential of the person. Natives must learn good discernment and refrain from deception because they may be cheated often and become entangled in difficult situations. For them it is important not to cheat and be clear and transparent with their intentions.

The house where the Atmakaraka is placed, is highlighted, and will always show how and where, in which area of life, we are meant to burn karma. If the Atmakaraka, for instance, finds itself in the 7th house, we will learn through relationships, and that might not be always pleasant. The Atmakaraka is more important than the Ascendant Lord, or the ruler of the Moon sign or Sun sign. When the same planet is the Atmakaraka and the Ascendant Lord, much karma will be burnt in the present life, which will not be easy either. But if the Atmakaraka is strong, that is exalted, in its own sign or in a friend’s sign or friendly Nakshatra, the native can face and transmute the karmic issues that are stirred. On the contrary, if the Atmakaraka is debilitated or in the sign of an enemy, life can be really tough.

Have a look at the birth chart of Charles, actual King of Great Britain. As you can see, his Atmakaraka is the Sun, which means that issues around leadership and self-confidence become important. The Sun is placed in the 4th House conjunct the South Node of the Moon (Ketu) and Mercury, that is his Pitrikaraka. Charles burns karma through the attempt to find happiness, and karmic issues with his family, land and father must surface. Additionally, his Darakaraka Jupiter is in the 6th house, auguring difficulties around the theme of marriage.

It is important to study the Dasha Periods to see when the Atmakaraka gets most activated. And we should always read our birth chart not only from the Ascendant as the 1st house, but also from the house where the AK is placed as the 1st house, and keep in mind that there are always difficulties with the 6th house and the 8th house, in this case from the Atmakaraka. In king Charles’ chart, these are the 9th house, that rules our view of the world and how we fit in, and the 11th house, which is a house of fulfilment of desires. Both themes are signalled as not easy for him to attain.

If the Atmakaraka is conjunct the Matrikaraka, it not only shows how we mainly burn karma but also how we are meant to experience real happiness. In conjunction with the Darakaraka, the soul learns how to love deeply and unconditionally. Throughout our life, we explore the themes of the house where the Atmakaraka sits and the themes of the house or houses that the Atmakaraka rules, in a more and more profound way, delving deep into those questions and peeling off layer by layer.[i]

Finally, we should know that he Atmakaraka is also considered to be the voice of Shiva and we are called to listen to this voice. If it is the Sun, divine messages come through the father o fatherly figures. With the Moon as Atmakaraka, they come through the mother or motherly figures. If it is Mars, siblings will deliver them. With Mercury, we should listen to children. If Jupiter or Venus are the Atmakaraka, it is our spouse or partner who delivers guidance. And with Rahu, strangers, foreigners and sometimes animals are the messengers.

If you are curious about your Atmakaraka and the other Chara Karakas of your horoscope, please go to the Online Calculator and print out your Vedic birth chart.

[i] Keep in mind that the Sun rules Leo, the Moon Cancer, Mars Aries and Scorpio, Mercury Gemini and Virgo, Jupiter Sagittarius and Pisces, Venus Taurus and Libra, Saturn Capricorn and Aquarius, and Rahu co-rules Aquarius (Ketu co-rules Scorpio).

[i] This technic is meant to be applied only to the sidereal chart.

[i] As Rahu is always retrograde, we must measure its longitude from the end of the Sign. For example, if Rahu is at 5º20’ in any sign of the chart, for the purpose of calculating Chara Karakas, we must subtract 5º20’ from 30º, that is 24º40’.