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First let me explain that there are two facets to a planet's condition in a horo

1) disposition (benefic or malefic)
2) strength (strong or weak)
depending on conditions, ANY planet can be Any combination of the above. So that
any given planet can be:
a) benefic and strong - like an uncle who loves you and is a millionaire.
b) benefic but weak - like a mother who loves her children but is too harrassed
by working 3 jobs to make ends meet.
c) malefic but weak - like a man who wants to kill you, but is in jail
d) malefic but strong - like a man who wants to kill you, and is the police chie
OK, now with that background I can directly address your question. Exaltation, M
ooltrikona, and Vargottama are some of the many factors that contribute to a pla
net falling into one of the four categories explained above.
Vargottama is slightly different from Exaltation and Mooltrikona. The latter two
are types of "dignity" that a planet posseses, which is based on how well the p
lanet is able to operate in the environment of a given rashi/ sign.
For example, in Libra, Saturn is exalted - he has full STRENGTH. The gradation i
s like this:
Exaltation - 100% strength
Mooltrikon - 90%
Own Sign - 80%
Great Friends Sign - 70%
Friend's sign - 60%
neutral sign - 50%
enemies sign - 40%
great enemies sign - 30%
Debilitated - 20%
Saturn in Libra is very strong... exalted... and so would fall into category (a)
or (d) explained above. Saturn in Aries is debilitated and would fall into cate
gory (b) or (c).
Mooltrikona is the "ROOT ANGLE" of a planet - like it's ROOT OF POWER. It is alm
ost always the positive (odd numbered) sign which the planet owns. For example,
Aquarius is the Mooltrikona of Saturn. Sagittarius is the Mooltrikona of Jupiter
, etc. The exceptions are Mercury, whose mooltrikona is in the female sign Virgo
. And the Moon, whose mooltrikona is in Taurus (past 3 degrees).
Mooltrikona is, in my opinion somewhat better than being exalted - or somewhat s
afer. Because when a planet is in mooltrikona or in it's own house it contribute
s to making the planet more benefically disposed as well as quite strong. Which
in my opinion is preferable to having a planet exalted who might be very malefic
ally disposed. (for example, Hitler's exalted Sun).
Vargottama is slightly different. It means the "Best Division" - division referr
s to the harmonic divisional charts and particularly to the Navamsha or the 9th
harmonic division. If a planet is in the SAME sign in both normal space and in t

he navamsha harmonic what happens is a MULTIPLIER of the normal effect. So IN MY

OPINION, vargottama is desirable if the rashi is good for the planet, but undes
irable if the rashi is bad. For example to have a vargottama mooltrikona planet
is very good, but perhaps to have a vargottama debilitated planet might not be a
s desirable.
Vic DiCara