A lot of times what happens is that we are not able to understand what we really want in life. It is not only about our career goals, but other things or desires which can give us a lot of happiness and satisfaction, if we would know about them. But we don't have an idea. Why? Because we don't have the time to look within. We are so busy in talking to others that we don't have the time to speak to our own soul.
In Astrology, Atmakaraka has the answer to this question. Atma means 'soul' and karaka is the 'significator'. Thus Atmakaraka is the significator of the soul’s desire. It is believed that a soul is reborn because it has unfulfilled desires that were not achieved in the previous life and it is born again to get another chance to satisfy them. But what are these desires? How will they be fulfilled? All this and much more is revealed by the Atmakaraka planet.
Since Sun represents the soul, it is considered to be the natural atmakaraka for everyone. However its the personal atmakaraka, famously called as the char(moveable) atmakaraka that shows the desires of the soul and its journey in this birth. Sun is the original significator of the soul, but the lesson the soul has to learn in this birth, is governed by the char atmakaraka.
How to find out the Char Atmakaraka? It’s very easy. The one with the highest degrees, out of the 7 planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn and Venus) in your horoscope, becomes your Char atmakaraka. The planet that becomes your char atmakaraka defines your goals in life. For e.g. If you have the Sun as Char Atmakaraka, it indicates that the desires to fulfill are success, fame and power. You must give up ego and maintain humility. Mars as Atmakaraka indicates that one becomes brave, courageous and the greatest challenge is to use his bravery in the right direction and avoid cruelty...and so on for the other planets. One needs to imbibe the positive values of the planet throwing off its negative traits. So once you know your char atmakaraka, you would know your purpose in life and the desires of your soul. This also helps you in your spiritual progress as you would know which traits you need to shed off to head more strongly towards moksha.
It is very important to understand that the fulfillment of the worldly desires is a part of the process of ending the reincarnation process. Our soul is treading the wheel of desires and the fulfillment of one set of material desires create an ever-increasing appetite for more and more. These desires never get fulfilled. The true motive of the soul is to get off this wheel and achieve self-realization, peace and eternal happiness. The struggle between the real and the false has to be understood. The false desires are those which we search for in the outside world. The true desires are satisfied from within, within our soul.
Atmakaraka shows the path through life lessons (delivered during planetary period of the Atmakaraka planet). The fact that the soul is born to earth shows that there is a worldly mission for the soul to complete before it is ready to understand the higher self. There cannot be a fast track to moksha so it is important to recognize and complete the material goal- both the good and the unpleasant. Unless you achieve that, you cannot go into the inner world and find your personal treasure of happiness. Atmakaraka will show you both the soul’s material goals and the spiritual ones.
Below is the life lesson shown by each planet that becomes the atmakaraka:
Sun: Sun as an AK indicates that the native has to learn to overcome his ego and should become humble. That’s how he should live his life. It shows the material desires of Success, Fame, and Power.
Moon: Moon as AK indicates that the native should be caring and compassionate, like a mother. He should work towards attaining stability in life. He should not be too emotionally vulnerable to be exploited by others.
Mars: It indicates that the native should be courageous and strong-willed but should refrain from all forms of violence. He should try out various adventures and explore the sporty side of life. The spiritual lesson to learn is patience and calmness.
Mercury: Mercury as AK indicates that the native should be soft spoken and not harsh or rude with people. His speech and communication skills should be good. He should be an intellectual and try to be truthful at all times.
Jupiter: Jupiter as AK indicates that the native should always respect his teachers/Guru, priests and elderly people. He should try to acquire knowledge and should always be well-informed. He should be wise and work towards spirituality.
Venus: Venus as AK indicates that the native must have a very clean character and refrain from illegitimate sex/lust. He should be of loving nature, maintain good relationships with people and enjoy his life to the fullest.
Saturn: Saturn as AK indicates that the native should follow all his duties and live a disciplined life. He should not be lazy and should refrain from drinking and drugs. He should spend his life in the service of people.
So the basic thing you all can do is to look up for the planet with the highest degree in your horoscope and learn your life lessons. For in-depth analysis, do consult an astrologer.