A rasi is divided into 9 padas, each is called a navamsa. Each nakshatra has 4 padas. Thus a rasi-sign has 2 1/4 nakshatras in them.
Vargottama is derived from 2 words. "Varga" means division and "Uttama" means best. So vargottama means best-division. This simply means the best amongst all the divisions in a sign. Let me explain why.
In the kaalapurusha jataka the order of the navamsas starting from Mesha are:
<The padas of the nakshatras are given in the brackets>
As we know, the signs are divided into chara, sthira and dwisbhava starting from Mesha, Rishabha and Mithunam.
Now, If you look at the above table, we will find that the 1st pada or navamsa of Mesha, Karakataka, Tula and Makara becomes a Varga-Uttama or Vargottama. Meaning the 1st navamsa of Mesha lies in Mesha itself , the 1st navamsa of Karakataka lies in Karakataka, the 1st navamsa of Tula lies in Tula and the 1st navamsa of Makara lies in Makara.
Similarly we will find that the 5th pada (Maddhyam) or Navamsa of Rishabha, Simha, Vrischika and Kumbha becomes Vargottama.Meaning the maddhyam navamsa of Rishabha lies in Rishabha itself, and the maddhyam navamsas of Simha, Vrischika, Kumbha lies in Simha, Vrischika and Kumbha itself.
We will also find that the 9th pada (Anthya) or Navamsa of Mithuna, Kanya, Dhanus and Meena becomes Vargottama. Meaning the Anthyam navamsa of Mithuna lies in its own sign, Kanya, Dhanus and Meenam in its own Anthyam Navamsa.
If we look at the above Vargottama patterns we deduce more interesting patterns:
So in the above massive intersection of so many permutations and combinations what do we discover about vargottamas?
1. The Pratham, Maddham and Antyam Navamsas give a clue to the "uttam" varga for a particular planet. Mark the numbers 1, 5, 9. The Pratham navamsa of a chara, the maddhyam navamsa of a sthira and the antyam navamsa of a dwisbhava are thus called vargottamas. 1,5,9 denoting the angles of an equilateral triangle as the auspicious energy-points called as vargottamas.
2. The planets are movable grahas and they can be in any of the above vargottama navamsas but let us focus on the constants or the immovable nakshatras giving the effects. For a graha to be in Mesha 1st padam, the influences are of the nakshatra lord Ketu and the sign lord Mangal. This gives a clue about Ketus affection to Mangal and fiery signs, Vargottama. Similarly a graha lying in Karakataka 1st padam gives a clue about Gurus affection for the sign Karakataka and a graha lying in Uttarashada 2nd padam gives a clue about Suryas affection towards Makara (the mark of auspicious Uttarayana). Similarly a graha lying the madhyam pada of rishabha gives a clue of Chandra(rohini) and Sukras(sign lord) influence on that pada which does not change.
3. Vargottamas are defined as the uttam signs as extrapolated above. However a graha placed in a particular vargottama does not mean favorable always. Its disposition to the lagna, its lord and other aspects are very important to test it favorability or unfavorability. All it means is that the navamsa sign and the rasi sign where the planet lies is the "uttam" sign and the planet cannot escape from its clutches whether benefic or malefic. The Uttam sign surely gives strength denying or giving the native favorability or unfavorability. Rahu Ketu debilitated in both rasi and navamsa is an example of a jatak not escaping from the clutches of the nodes. This means that the karma of the planets are also denied and the karma also will not give relief.
Remember that 1,5,9 is a clue of core-dharmic energy being released to the planet from the indestructible nakshatras when the planet lies in vargottama navamsa giving great strength. Vargottama Lagna is an indicator of a higher state of this same energy making the navamsa itself to behave like rasi at times. I will write more on Vargottama Navamsa Lagna and Vargottama in various other vargas as well.
The above is an attempt to grasp the circumference and then move towards the center.
OM Tat Sat