Karaka means ‘the planet which causes certain matters’ or in other words which becomes a significator of a certain matter.
Sthira Karaka or ‘Fixed Significators’ are presided over by Lord Shiva and are represented by 7 out of 9 planets (excluding the two shadows planets Rahu and Ketu). Lord Shiva represents the physical body and that is the reason why shadow planets are excluded. Sthira Karaka is not used in predictive Astrology and is only used to predict the timing of death in most cases. Since predictions of death are not made by the majority of Astrologers these days, Sthira Karakas are not in use like early days.
Chara Karaka or ‘Variable significators’ are presided over by Lord Vishnu and represented by 8 out of 9 planets excluding Ketu. As Lord Vishnu is responsible for a person’s sustenance and progression of Life, all the planets except Ketu which is representing Moksha become part of this. Chara Karaka is used to analyse worldly matters like Astrology yoga predictions and Raja Yoga predictions.
Below are Chara Karakas: (Planet with the highest degree becomes 1st in the order)
There is one more Karaka Named Naisargika Karaka or ‘Natural Significators’ which is presided over by Brahma and represented by all 9 planets.
In the above Naisargika Karaka, each planet represents matters related to a specific Bhava or house. Suppose you need to analyse matters related to the mother, then the 4th house (house of the mother) from Moon can be used and the 7th house (house of the spouse) from Venus will say about one’s spouse.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that all these three karakas are utilized in a distinct way in astrology and cannot be mixed up during a single chart analysis. Astrologers should be well aware of the character of the karaka he/she is utilizing for chart analysis. For example, Chara karaka is used to identify the specific matter by seeing the specific karaka planet. like if Mercury is representing dhara karaka, then Mercury itself is taken to study matters related to a spouse. whereas in Naisargika Karaka the Planet Venus can be taken to study matters related to the 7th house. Both scenarios are different here. So mixing up Karakas may lead to serious flaws in chart analysis and one must be careful.