LIGHT ON 'KARAKA'
------ © Dr. Satya Prakash Choudhary
The student of vedic astrology comes across the word 'karaka' quite often in various contexts. In fact most standard texts devote an entire chapter for the 'karaka' . For instance Parasara's magnum opus the 'Brihat Parasara Hora Sastra' has an entire chapter titled 'kaarakaadhyaaya' . Even the dasa delineation depends on how accurately one identifies all the karakas involved. Every prediction is based on these karakatwa s. In fact any successful astrologer will tell you that your understanding of the chart is directly proportional to how thorough your knowledge of the karaka s and their appropriate use is.
The word Karaka means a 'significator' or "one who causes". Karaka of a matter is the significator of that particular matter and signifies / causes events related to that matter. Significators can be classified according to various criteria.
Significations may be Natural or Acquired
Natural significations of planets are permanent or fixed in a way and are based on their innate nature. For instance Sun is the karaka for the soul, Moon for the mind, Mercury for the intellect, Mars for courage and Jupiter for children. The detailed natural significations for various planets are given elsewhere.
Planets acquire the power to signify a matter by virtue of their lordships and positions too. These significations are Acquired and change in each chart. For instance the lord of the first house (who ever the planet maybe) acquires signification over all the matters governed by that house. Likewise the second lord acquires signification over matters governed by the second house such as speech, possessions, food/diet etc. The detailed l significations for various houses are given elsewhere.
Acquired or Temporary or Variable karakatwas of planets are defined in another way too in Jaimini system. The Charakarakas of Jaimini are discussed elsewhere in this article.
The above is the simplest and most basic approach to a karaka. As the student progresses, he/she will come across a more in-depth approach to the concept of karakas.
In accordance with tradition, Somanatha Misra writes in Kalpalata (his vrtti on the Jaimini Sutras ) that Karaka s are of many kinds ( Kaarakaa bahu vidhaah ) and then deals with the following five kinds of karakas.
Among these five, Jain astrologers are said to favour Atmakaraka and Swakaraka . Atmakaraka is the most favoured planet in Jaimini system and its extensive use is a unique feature of Jaimini astrology.
Swakaraka is the most dependable of all in determining the results of a chart though one should study the chart with reference to other kinds of karakas too. I will deal with the 'swakaraka' later. First let me define each of these karakas.
Atmakaraka is the planet that has advanced to the highest degree in any sign. I have written more on the charakarakas and atmakaraka elsewhere in this article.
Dasakaraka is the planet whose influence is prominent during a particular dasa. The lord of the dasa (in a planetary dasa) is the single most influential planet for that particular dasa. But planets conjunct or aspecting or aspected by the dasa lord too influence the dasa. In a rasi dasa, planets in that rasi as well planets involved in aspects with the rasi also determine the results. All such planets become the Dasa karakas in some manner though the Dasa lord is the single most influential planet as the Dasakaraka. Simply put for most practical purposes Dasakaraka is the planet whose dasa is operating.
Bhavakaraka is the significator of a house. Bhavakarakas are of two kinds:
Permanent ( Nitya ) and Temporary ( Anitya )
Nitya (Permanent) bhavakarakas :
The permanent significators for the twelve houses are fixed for all charts. Hence the name Nitya indicating 'permanent'. These are:
1 st house: Sun
2 nd : Jupiter
3 rd : Mars
4 th : Moon, Mercury
5 th : Jupiter
6 th : Mars, Saturn
7 th : Venus
8 th : Saturn
9 th : Sun, Jupiter
10 th : Sun, Saturn, Mercury, Jupiter
11 th : Jupiter
12 th : Saturn
Though the above list is supported by standard works such as Phala Deepika, Sarvartha Chintamani, Jataka Parijata etc, Parasara mentions only one planet as the significator for a house. According to the BPHS only Moon is considered for the 4th house, Mars for the 6 th , Jupiter for the ninth and Mercury for the tenth. Who is correct? Depending on the context both versions are correct. For instance Mars is the significator for the sixth if one is referring to enemies. But for other general indications Saturn is also appropriate.
Anitya (Temporary) bhavakarakas:
As already stated a temporary significator of a bhava (house) is a planet that acquires the power to signify matters governed by that house by virtue of its lordship, position, aspects etc in the chart under question. So the lord of the second house, planets in the second house and planets aspecting, all these become the bhavakarakas for the second house in a particular chart.
STHIRA & CHARA KARAKAS
Jaimini makes a distinction between Sthira (Fixed) and Chara (Variable) karakas.
As indicated by the name, these significations of a planet are fixed or permanent in nature. For instance Sun is the karaka for the soul, Moon for the mind, Mercury for the intellect, Mars for courage and Jupiter for children. These are to be learnt from other standard texts. Most texts agree on a majority of the common significations in a general way. The detailed natural significations for various planets, based on standard texts, are given in another article. Here I will confine myself to a few important differences.
Generally it is acceptable to take the Sun as the karaka for father and Moon for the mother. But certain authorities make a distinction between night and day births.
In Brihat Jataka, Varahamihira suggests that Sun is the significator for father and Venus for mother in case of day birth. Likewise Saturn is the significator for father and Moon for mother for night births. Parasara has something else to suggest though it has no distinction between day and night births. The stronger one between Sun and Venus is the significator for father, while the stronger one between Moon and Mars is the significator for mother.
My own observation is that Varahamihira is more accurate in this regard. One thing should be kept in mind though. In spite of considering Venus and Saturn too for the mother and father according to day or night birth the general signification of Sun for father and Moon for mother should not be ignored. It works well in practice.
As for Parasara's suggestion, it could be reframed. Though it does not seem appropriate to take the stronger one between Sun and Venus for father, Venus does have a role in another way. Venus is the significator for 'shukla' or 'semen' and in that sense indicates the male fecundity factor. Likewise Mars is the significator for 'sonita' and in that sense indicates the female fecundity factor at least. Perhaps this may have a bearing on the conception chart. Since no valid research or study has been done on conception charts by anyone so far, I will not speculate.
It is accepted by all that that Venus is the karaka for 'beeja' (seed) and Mars for the 'kshetra' (field), a concept that has been used by Mantreswara in calculating the 'beeja sphuta' and 'kshetra sphuta' in assessing the fecundity/fertility factor. The sphuta is calculated in a male chart by adding the longitudes of Sun, Venus and Jupiter. In a female chart it is done by adding the longitudes of Moon, Mars and Jupiter. Jupiter is the fixed karaka for children for all charts. Additionally Sun, Venus for males and Moon, Mars for females are taken by Mantreswara in accordance with the above mentioned logic. Parasara's suggestion too could be founded on a similar principle and could be useful in a different context. But for all general purposes Varahamihira is more acceptable while the standard significations of Sun for father and Moon for mother should be kept in mind at all times.
As already stated karakas may be fixed or variable. In conventional vedic astrology (also referred to as the Parasari system by some), each planet and house governs certain significations called "Karakatwas" and these are constant in all charts. For instance in all charts the fixed natural significator for the soul and father is Sun. Likewise the Moon for mother and so on. In Jaimini system karakas are classified as Sthira (fixed) and Chara (Variable). The "charakarakas" are assigned according to the longitude of the planets. The same "karaka" may be indicated by one planet in one horoscope and by another planet in another horoscope depending upon the longitude. In other words the significators are not constant or fixed and are variable in this system and hence referred to as 'Chara Karakas'. .
Sthira Karakas (Fixed significators) are 7 in number. In this, only 7 planets are considered excluding Rahu and Ketu.
Chara Karakas (Temporary / Variable significators) are 7 or 8 in number. Traditionally astrologers seem to have been divided as to whether the charakarakas are 7 or 8 in number since the texts give scope for both interpretations. Both camps have their votaries. The seven Karaka School continues the seven fold planetary significations just like the sapta (seven) sthira karakas (fixed significators) which too are seven in number.
In the scheme of 7 chara karakas, only 7 planets are considered excluding Rahu and Ketu and it does not have a significator for father. In the 8-planet scheme, Ketu is not considered and the additional planet is placed in the 5 th position bringing in a significator for father.
The planet that attains the highest degree of longitude in a sign is called "Atma Karaka" and the sign occupied by this planet in Navamsa chart is called the "Karakamsa Lagna ". In descending order of the degrees of the longitude occupied by other planets in the horoscope the other six (or seven) karakas are determined. According to BPHS if three or more planets have the same longitude (in degrees, minutes and seconds) the gap is filled by bringing in the natural karakas.
The seven Karaka School accepts only seven planets and brings in Rahu only when two planets attain the same longitude in any sign. The eight Karaka School always includes Rahu in the karakas list. The longitude of Rahu is reckoned from the end of the sign (30 degrees minus actual longitude in the sign) since generally speaking Rahu is retrograde. But one is free of this controversy by getting rid of Rahu altogether from the list of Karakas.
Seven karakas in order of decreasing longitude:
Starting from the highest degree down to the lowest degree
Gnati (Collateral relatives)
There are variant readings which give rise to some differences. According to one such reading the karaka for mother is followed by the karaka for father while matrukaraka and putrakaraka are one and the same.
Eight karakas in order of decreasing longitude:
Gnati (Collateral relatives)
Note than an additional planet is placed in the 5 th position bringing in a significator for father.
Let us see what the texts and various commentators say about the seven fold and eight fold karakas . As far as the text of Jaimini Sutras is concerned we do not know if the sutra for the additional karaka has been inserted into or deleted from the original since both versions seem to exist in the available manuscripts. The popular version of BPHS mentions both the methods though there are at least two variant versions of the BPHS that mention only seven karaka s. Commentators like Neelakantha and Venkateswara have clearly indicated their preference for the seven charakaraka method.
Somanatha Misra defines the atmakaraka as the planet that attains the highest longitude among the seven or eight planets thus giving scope for both the versions though he actually favors the eight karaka scheme for the charakaraka s. He discusses the merits and demerits of both the schools quoting other authors and in the end gives the reader the impression that the eight karaka scheme has its own merits. In this discussion Somanatha touches upon a few issues. Since the karaka concept is a basic one to all systems of astrology that use both fixed and variable significators, he deals with the issue from a broader perspective. Generally speaking karakas are five or seven or eight or nine depending on the context. In the following paragraphs I have used Somanatha' s discussion as the seed though I have developed it further by citing the instances. The argument is on similar lines though I haven't arrived at the same conclusion as Somanatha.
Varahamihira has dealt with only seven karakas in his Brihat Jataka though in a different context. The seven karaka scheme is used in most basic approaches. The seven weekdays, the planetary hours ( hora ), shadbala (dignities and debilities in Vedic astrology) are all such instances. In some systems eight karaka s too are used as in the case of Ashtottari and Yogini dasa s. In other contexts the nine graha s have been employed. For all general purposes the seven and nine karaka schemes are more popular though the eight karaka scheme is also not altogether uncommon. Somanatha actually favors the eight karaka scheme for the charakarakas saying that it is quite useful. The 'Jataka Rajeeya' also indicates its preference for eight charakaraka s.
Some authors argue that the signification of father is an important one and hence their preference for the eight charakarakas . But even in the seven charakaraka scheme, a variant reading solves this by stating that the karaka for mother is followed by the karaka for father while matrukaraka and putrakaraka are one and the same. A few modern astrologers say that under the sevenfold scheme the father is indicated by the bhratri karaka . Dr. K. S. Charak has published an article with some case studies on the same. Even Sri K. N. Rao mentions this in his book 'Predicting though Jaimini's Chara Dasha'.
In a nutshell I will state my position. Since the karaka concept is a basic one in all systems (both fixed and variable), the argument in favor of the seven karaka school is quite logical to me. In fact it is logical to assume that the seven karaka scheme is the earlier one. Moreover the system is kept simple and consistent by adhering to the seven karaka method and works very well in practice. Adherents of the karaka scheme should demonstrate how the additional karaka makes difference. The conclusion should be based on actual cases where the additional karaka makes a perceivable difference in the chart. Here I should clarify that I am only stating my preference for the seven karaka scheme, but not denying the eight karaka scheme as untraditional or absolutely illogical.
The Atmakaraka and the sign occupied by him in the navamsa play an important role in Jaimini system. The Atmakaraka gives benefic or malefic results depending on his disposition and dignities or his association / aspects with benefics and malefics. Aspects are as per Jaimini system (i.e. rasi drishti)
The Atmakaraka indicates the soul and heart of the native. When he is beneficially disposed, he liberates (or gives benefic results) the native and if he has malefic disposition or association, he subjects the native to bondage (or gives malefic results). We may be able to ascertain the individual's constitution, nature, outlook, general health and fortune from the Atmakaraka.
As Parasara says in the 'kaarakaadhyaaya' in BPHS , the Atmakaraka is the most important planet and has a prime say on the individual. Just as the king is the most famous among the men of his country and is the head of all affairs and is entitled to arrest and release all men, the Atmakaraka too is vested with the power to give auspicious or inauspicious results.
Just as the minister cannot go against the king, the other Karaka s, namely the Putrakaraka, Amatyakaraka etc. cannot prevail over the Atmakaraka . If the Atmakaraka is adverse, other Karakas too cannot give their benefic effects. Similarly, if Atmakaraka is favourable, other Karakas cannot predominate with their malefic influences. This unique power of the Atmakaraka in Jaimini methodology is somewhat akin to the role of the Moon in conventional Parasari system. If the Moon is afflicted, especially if he is Ksheenachandra (if he is within 24 degrees of the Sun in an applying aspect), even other planets cannot bestow the auspicious results which are otherwise indicated in the chart. But if the Moon is strong (full) and unafflicted the auspicious results indicated by other planets too manifest fully. That is why the Atmakaraka gets the highest strength in 'Amsabala'.
Swakaraka is the lord of the Ascendant.
Though simply put the swakaraka is none other than the lord of the Ascendant, a question arises as to which ascendant should be considered since Jaimini methodology employs many ascendants. Somanatha defines 'swakaraka' as the 'Vilagnaadhipati', meaning the lord of Vilagna. But he does not clarify the issue further. We have to look elsewhere for further guidance. Somanatha's father Krishna Misra has dealt with this extensively in his ' Jyotisha Phala Ratnamala'.
The following ascendants are all considered for Vilagna.
Rahusthita Rasi: the sign in which Rahu is placed
Lagnadhipasthita Rasi: the sign in which the Ascendant (rising sign) lord is placed
Chandrasthita Rasi: Moon sign
I have defined three of the above here. The remaining have been explained in another article. Krishna Misra suggests that the lord of the strongest from the above should be treated as the 'Swakaraka'.
Among the above mentioned nine lagnas the first four should be employed in judging Raja (status or power conferring) yogas and Dhana (wealth conferring) yogas. The lords of the last five lagnas namely Rahu sign, Asc lord sign, Moon sign, Hora and Ghati lagnas contend for the 'Swakaraka'
It is not uncommon among expert jyotishis to analyze the chart from three or four ascendants. If one arrives at the same results by reckoning from most of the lagans, the prediction will not fail. The above mentioned five lagnas are all important in a regular full delineation of the chart.
Likewise all yogas (both status and wealth conferring) should be reckoned from the first four lagnas in order to ascertain how fixed the karma is. If the yogas are present in spite of reckoning from more than 2 or even three of the first four lagnas, the astrologer concludes that one is looking at a karmic pattern that indicates fixed karma (dhridha karma). The prediction given in such cases will not fail.
Analysing the bhavakarakas
Finally I should mention another concept that is on similar lines as the above one. In analyzing 'bhavakarakas' too, one comes across a similar concept. Bhavas (houses) are reckoned in more than one way. Bhavas are reckoned in at least four ways.
Bhavas may be judged from:
Arudha (also referred to as Arudhamsa )
The first way of reckoning is obvious and is the most popular method and involves the Rising sign. The second one too is not uncommon. For instance if you are analyzing marriage in a chart, judge the 7 th from Venus (as Venus is the karaka for marriage). Likewise judge third from Mars for co-borns, fourth from the Moon for mother, fifth from Jupiter for children, sixth from Mercury for maternal uncle, eighth from Saturn for longevity/death ninth from the Sun for father, and so on.
Alternately the entire chart may be judged from the karaka, but it should be kept in mind that the results pertain only to that particular theme of life. In other words if you judge the entire chart taking the sign in which Venus is placed as the ascendant, you should keep in mind that the indication are applicable only for Spouse/marriage/relationships and Vehicles (all natural karakatwas of Venus). This exercise may be done even with house lords.
Arudha or Amsaka
The fourth way of reckoning is from the respective Arudha lagna . Arudha means mounted or ascended. How to arrive at the arudha of any house? Count the number of signs that the lord has progressed from his house. Count as many signs from the lord. The resulting sign is the Arudha lagna. Thus arudhas can be calculated for all twelve houses though some commentators recommend for only 8 important houses. Both Jaimini as well as Parasara deal with this though Jaimini deals with it more extensively. This concept is not necessarily confined to Jaimini system alone, and is used in standard Parasari approach too.
The Ascendant in this system is known as "The Lagna Arudha Pada". Apart from Lagna Arudha as already stated Arudha padas for all the remaining houses can also be arrived at. Next to the Lagna Arudha is the Upapada Lagna which is equally important. The 'upapada' is nothing but the arudha of the 12 th and is also referred to as 'uparudha' or 'gaunapada'.
Somanatha clearly states that he Arudha lagna or Pada lagna is subordinate to the actual Rasi or Rasi lagna. This should be kept in mind by the overzealous student.
Apart from Lagnaarudha, arudha padas for the remaining houses also can be calculated.
Arudha Charts Enunciated from Symbol used
Lagna Arudha or Lagna Pada 1 st house A1
Dhana Arudha(Pada) 2 nd house A2
Vikrama / Bhatru Pada 3 rd house A3
Matru / Sukha Pada 4 th house A4
Mantra / Putra Pada 5 th house A5
Roga /Satru Pada 6 th house A6
Dara / Kalatra Pada 7 th house A7
Mrutyu / Marana Pada 8 th house A8
Pitru /Bhagya Pada 9 th house A9
Karma /Rajya Pada 10 th house A10
Labha Pada 11 th house A11
Vyaya /Upa Pada 12 th house Up
Now I will explain the way to reckon bhavas from the Drekkana (decanate) chart. The drekkana in which lagna lord is posited should be treated as the lagna in the drekkana chart. Likewise the drekkana in which the second lord is posited should be treated as the second bhava, the drekkana in which the third lord is posited should be treated as the third bhava and so on. This is the method as given in Kalpalata . It should be pointed out that Somanatha has a unique way of calculating the Drekkana. Various methods of calculating the Hora and Drekkana charts exist and one should ensure that the appropriate Drekkana or Hora is being used in the relevant context.
If one arrives at the same results by reckoning the bhava under scrutiny from more than two or three of the above four, the prediction will not fail. The astrologer should predict confidently whenever the results from variant methods of reckoning concur well. To a beginner all this might sound complex. But to the trained mind, it makes sense. Moreover with practice comes the ability to discriminate. Three or four lagnas or three or four dasas are often used compositely for greater clarity. One may use alternate methods to confound oneself or to attain further clarity. It all depends on the level of understanding of the practitioner. To one person the answer appears as clear as day; to another, shadowy as twilight; to a third, dark as night.
There are two paths to gain deeper understanding. The first path is to find an experienced teacher from whose knowledge, wisdom and experience one may gain. The other is by regular practice and hard work. As you study more and observe the principles at work in actual life (charts), you will gain your own insights. Both the paths are valid as long as one is serious and intellectually honest. Intellectual honesty and critical study combined with some sadhana are most important if one adopts the second path due to the unavailability of a good teacher. The first path is superior in a way at least initially. The second is as good and is definitely safer than resorting to one of the many self proclaimed false ' gurus '.
But for either of these to happen your chart should have the trikonas (trines) and/or their lords in good place in the rasi and/or navamsa (can you guess why?). The longer one practices, the deeper becomes one's understanding of the symbolism of the particular method employed. No practitioner or user can see in a spiritual tool, anything beyond his own level of thinking at that stage. Only the user can decide upon the importance and meaning of a particular method for him or her.