When Vallalar was one year old his mother moved to Madras to join her eldest son Sabapathy and his wife. Sabapathy was a reputed scholar in Madras and he made living by giving religious discourses. He also used to conduct classes for elementary school boys in their courtyard. Now he was the only breadwinner of their family after his father’s death..(Ramlingam was 6 months old that time ). The area where they lived, is now known as Vallalar Nagar in Chennai.
When Ramlingam was five years old his brother started to teach him. The young child however demonstrated a deep disinclination towards formal education, preferring trips to the local Kandasamy temple instead and used to absorb himself with divine prayers. Sabapathy thought that ramlingam was not amaneble in his brothers presence, so he entrusted the teaching responsibility to his own teacher. The teacher tried his best to teach ramlingam. But ramlingam showed little interest and used to goto the temple and recite songs in praise of the presiding deity, Lord Muruga and enter into deep meditation. Discovering that his student already attracting a vast audience in the temple with his songs, the teacher went through the poems by ramlingam and was amazed to find them heart warming and bhakti rendering ones. He felt that such poems could not be composed by even well-trained poets and concluded that it was Gods grace on the little boy and gave up teaching him.
Sabapathy was very much worried for his brothers education and after the above incident he lost his patience and forbade his wife from serving food to Ramlingam or to host him in house. However, Sabapathy’s wife Paapaathi/ Parvathi was very affectionate towards Ramlingam. She used to give him food secretly, when Sabapathy was away or asleep. She persuaded Ramlingam that at least to please his brother taking his studies seriously.
He promised, requesting however that he might be provided with a room of his own, upstairs, where he could pursue his studies on his own. The request was granted. Sabapathy was very much satisfied as his younger brother who was all day sitting in temples now didn’t leave the house or even the room where he remained shut all day through.
It was probably during these days that, dispossessed, he turned into a juvenile ascetic way of life for a while.
In a poem he recounts to His God:
”Oh Lord during the years of my play-time boyhood, let me recall
the time i spent with my friend mate, when i say:
I do not care for this world no more, do you?
We turned our back to the world, having no more desire for this life and we attended to leave it.
And You, in Your Grace, called us back to this life
towards deathlessness, and O Lord my Mother,
I thank You today.”