Your "Soul Planet" in Vedic Astrology
...and why it's important for your karmic life path
In Vedic astrology, the Atmakaraka is a significant planet in a person's birth chart. The term "Atmakaraka" translates to "soul indicator" or "indicator of the self." Therefore, the Atmakaraka planet signifies the desires, aspirations, and karmic lessons that an individual carries throughout their life. The specific characteristics and qualities of the Atmakaraka planet can provide insights into the person's strengths, weaknesses, and areas of focus in life.
In a larger, karmic context, this particular planet indicates the desires that brought us back into a cycle of rebirth, and therefore is very important for the life path and as an indicator of what lessons we need to learn this time around.
How to find your Atmakaraka
The Atmakaraka planet is determined based on the degrees in the individual's natal chart in the sidereal system. The planet with the highest degree is considered the Atmakaraka. The one exception to this is Rahu (the North Node). Since the nodes are always retrograde, Rahu is considered “higher” the lower it is in degrees. In most astrology software, the Atmakaraka will be shortened to AK in the chart.
A quick and easy way to find your Atmakaraka is by using this calculator.
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The desires of each Atmakaraka planet – and the lessons they need to learn*
When the Sun becomes the AK, the individual places great importance on power, position, and respect (or lack thereof). However, at the same time it indicates the need to work on cultivating humility to address the karmic challenges related to ego.
When the Moon becomes the AK, the individual possesses a strong inclination towards care and compassion, with a significant focus on family, relationships and social connections, as well as a tendency towards emotional dependence. However, it is important for them to transcend narrow attachments to immediate family and recognize the interconnectedness of all humanity as a global family.
When Mars becomes the AK, the individual might possess a competitive or aggressive nature. However, it is essential for them to understand the concept of healthy competition and refrain from any forms of violence, embracing the path of non-violence (ahimsa). I know a lot of people with Mars AK and they tend to attract confrontational, aggressive behavior from others (i.e., they are not always initially the aggressive one). The lesson here is to not explode in anger or become enraged themselves, but to stay centered and calm – a real “choose your battles” and “enlightened warrior” kind of karmic path.
When Mercury becomes the AK, the individual possesses a strong inclination towards communication, and has a keen interest in gathering information. However, it is important for them to exercise control over their speech, engage in fewer debates and prioritize honesty in all their interactions. Such individuals should exercise caution regarding the content of their speech and be mindful of their audience. In writing this, I realized Twitter must be full of Mercury AK people whose lesson truly is: Think before you Tweet!
When Jupiter becomes the AK, the individual has a wise and expansive nature. However, they need to learn to accept and be open to other people’s opinions and must carefully consider whose teaching they choose (and choose not) to follow. It is also important that they don’t get so lost in their pursuit of knowledge that they neglect their partner or children, as they may have the propensity to do so.
When Venus becomes the AK, the individual is particularly drawn to luxury, enjoyment, art, music and creativity in general. They tend to focus strongly on relationships, sex and sensual experiences; however, they also need to learn to control their urges in this regard, should they become destructive (e.g., sex addiction).
When Saturn becomes the AK, the individual will be attuned to the sorrow of life and an understanding for suffering. They need to learn to help alleviate the sorrow and suffering of others, rather than causing sorrow for others. My younger daughter has this AK and she was always very concerned whenever we saw homeless people when she was little and always asked me how we could help them. I would give her change to give to them and she would talk for a while afterward about how sad it was that they had no home.
When Rahu becomes the AK, the individual may repeatedly be cheated or deceived by others or unaware of the situations they become entangled with. They need to accept deceit and betrayal and learn to not dwell on it. Rahu has to do with anything foreign, and these people may be particularly drawn to foreign things and cultures. This is my AK, and I definitely relate to both these aspects.
Understanding the Atmakaraka
As is always the case with astrology, truly understanding the Atmakaraka means considering its house and sign placement, aspects and position in the divisional charts, especially the D9 (more on this in a later post).
The energy of this planet is what your soul desires, but at the same time, it represents the traps and pitfalls you are likely to fall into due to (over) attachment or embodying what that planet stands for in an unbalanced way. However, this is mostly an internal process that speaks to the core of who you are. The planet that represent career and what you should do in the world (the “external” you) is the Amatyakaraka (AmK). More on that later, so stay tuned, share and subscribe!
*Special thanks to the astrologers Freedom Cole and Visti Larsen, whose definition for the AK inspired these descriptions.