Ramana Maharshi was born Venkataraman Iyer on 30 December 1879 in the village Tiruchuzhi near Aruppukkottai, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India. He was the second of four children in an orthodox Hindu Brahmin family. His father was Sundaram Iyer (1848–1890), from the lineage of Parashara, and his mother was Azhagammal (1864-1922). He had two brothers Nagaswami (1877–1900) and Nagasundaram (1886–1953), along with a younger sister Alamelu (1887-1953). Venkataraman's father was a court pleader.
Both a paternal uncle of his father and his father's brother had become sannyasins. Venkataraman's family belonged to the Smarta denomination, and regular worship of Lord Siva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesa, Lord Surya and Goddess Shakti took place in their home. His father, Sundaram Iyer, died suddenly on 18 February 1892. After his father's death, the family split up; Venkataraman and Nagaswami stayed with Subbaiyar in Madurai.