Ramana Maharshi was born on 30th December, 1879 in a small village called Tiruchuli about thirty miles from Madurai, in Tamilnadu, south India. That day the Arda Festival was being celebrated. The Nataraja or the dancing Shiva image was being displayed to commemorate the event. Just as the Nataraja image was being put away the child was born. It is said that just as the baby emerged the midwife attending his birth saw a brilliant light. His parents Sundaram Iyer and Alagammal were God-fearing and kind hearted. He was the second of three sons. The child was named Venkateswaram after the family deity and was popularly called Venkataramana.
Venkataraman was strong and liked sports. He did not show much interest in studies. It used to be a task for his mother to send him to school everyday. One thing very interesting about him was that when he slept, he went into such a deep sleep that it was almost impossible to wake him up. Even if his classmates carried him off to another place or even thrashed him he would not wake up. Venkataraman’s father passed away when he was only twleve years old. After this he with his mother and two brothers went to Madurai to stay with his uncle, Subba Iyer. Here he joined the Mission High School.
When Venkataramana was sixteen years of age, one day a guest came to their house. On enquiring the guest replied that he came from Arunachala. The mere mention of the word Arunachala had a magical effect on the boy and he made up his mind then and there to visit this place soon. Shortly after this Venkataramana read Kulothunga’s Periya Purana. Here the stories of Shaiva saints are narrated. The stories of these saints and their renunciation left a deep impression on the mind of Venkataramana. He longed to become like one of them. From that day on he began to meditate on God.