Born in 1886 in Mudappuallur, a medium-sized village in Kerala, to Smt. Balamba and Shri Achhutan Nair, Chippu Kutty, as Swami Tapovanam was known, exhibited a marked partiality for spiritual life. As a child, he was fascinated and delighted by Pauranic stories manifesting the glories of God and the worship of idols fashioned by his own hands.
His early education started with the village teacher. Too intelligent to be trained within the formal learning systems of his time, he sought a different education - less materialistic and more spiritual. Home-schooled until the age of 17, he proved himself to be a devout Vedantin, and a linguistic genius and litterateur par excellence, mastering poems, dramas, grammar and logic in both Malayalam and Sanskrit. Chippu Kutty’s first poem ‘Vibhakarom’ composed at the age of eighteen attracted the attention of literary scholars and received wide applause.
Both his parents passed away before he turned 21. By then, he was already renowned and revered for his original poetic compositions. An introvert to the core, he loved spending his time immersed in books, japa, meditating on the form of Lord Shiva and spiritual reflection. He was averse to all worldly pleasures. Charmed by the beauty of nature, he spent much of his time in the jungles near his father’s house. “The starry sky lit with the bright full moon filled his mind with celestial thoughts of ineffable bliss,” he wrote in Iswara Darshan.