by Lina Elisabeth Preston 3 min read

What is the Atmakaraka?

Did you ever ask yourself: “Why am I here? What is my purpose?"

Atmakaraka translates as indicator of the soul.

The atmakaraka reveals the unfulfilled desires that we carry with us and which have brought us into this incarnation. These deep desires need to be addressed and reveal our dharma, or soul purpose, in this life.

In the birth chart, the atmakaraka is represented by a planet. The planet that is atmakaraka gives indications not only of the soul’s desires and dharma, but also of the obstacles and karmic blocks that slow down our spiritual progress.

When we respond to the subtle promptings of the atmakaraka we can experience the joys and pains of soul growth, as we let go of deep rooted karmic attachments, repressions and misconceptions and embrace our dharma.

Natural and Individual Atmakaraka

The spiritual quest for us all, regardless of religion, is to transcend ego consciousness and to unite with the consciousness of the soul.

The astrological Sun represents our essence and the light within us. The Sun is our identity, authority, ego and Soul. The Sun is what is called a natural atmakaraka. Everyone has the Sun as their natural atmakaraka.

No two souls have the same karma and the journey of the soul is different for each and every one of us.This is why each person also has an individual atmakaraka in addition to the natural atmakaraka.

So, how do we know what planet is the atmakaraka? The individual atmakaraka is the planet in the highest degree of the birth chart. Rahu, the north node of the Moon, is an exception and when Rahu has the role of atmakaraka there is a different calculation. This is because Rahu moves counter clockwise, contrary to the planets.

An awareness of the planet that represents the individual atmakaraka in a chart will help us to understand the soul’s unfulfilled desires. A deepened understanding of the qualities of the atmakaraka planet may help us let go of deeply held attachments, repressions, sorrows and misconceptions. Or perhaps the atmakaraka will reveal a karmic destiny to follow.

Change Me Not My Circumstances

Our soul lessons can also be similar to the experiences of the main character in the movie Groundhog Day. The main star, played by Bill Murray, gets trapped in a time loop that forces him to experience the same day over and over again. He goes through a range of emotions; including shock, boredom and frustration at the monotony of being unable to move forward.

It is not until he discovers that he can change his own thoughts and behavior, that his day begins to change. He becomes kinder and more considerate and he is pleasantly surprised to see what a difference that he himself can make.

We too must look within ourselves if we want to make real change. True spiritual progress lies not in external circumstances but within our own consciousness.

Alignment with the Soul

Awareness of the planet that represents the soul’s purpose can help us to understand our deeper needs. An alignment between our little self and the soul’s dharma gives integrity.

It is an insult to your Self to be born, to live and to die without knowing the answer to the mystery of why you were sent here as a human being in the first place.
–Paramhansa Yogananda

The Spiritual Essence of the Eight Atmakaraka

Sun - Self; consciousness, power

Moon - Mind; awareness, peace

Mars - Energy; courage, strength

Mercury - Intellect; discrimination, communication

Jupiter - Wisdom, faith, dharma

Venus - Joy; love, creativity

Saturn - Perseverance, detachment, service

Rahu - innovation, service, progress

Stay tuned for a deeper dive into each planet as atmakaraka. We will start with the Sun in a few weeks.


Lina Elisabeth Preston
Lina Elisabeth Preston

Lina Elisabeth Preston has been doing astrological consultations for 20 years. She is a certified Jyotish Visharada and member and practitioner with the Council of Vedic Astrology. Lina also works with vedic gemstones. A long time meditator and disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, Lina lives with her husband Binay at Ananda Village, a spiritual community in Northern California. Lina and Binay founded their business Northern Lights in 1990.

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