Tharuvai Ganapati Sastri was born in the village of Tharuvai in the Tirunelveli district as the son of Ramasubrahmanya lyer — a son of the family of the celebrated Appaya Dikshita. His mother was Sitamba. In his Aparnastava he has referred to his native place on the banks of Tamraparani River, in the following lines:

गणपतिरिति कश्चित् ब्राह्मण्स्ताम्रपर्णी
तच्तुषि तरुवानाम्न्यग्रहारेऽभिजातः।

In a colophon to his commentary on Svapnavasavadattam he has mentioned his village as well as his parents thus:

ताम्रपर्णीतीरवर्ति तरुवाग्रहाराभिजनस्य श्रीसीताम्बाराम
कृतिषु स्वप्नवासवदत्ताख्यानं सम्पूर्णम्।

His parents were poor and he was given some basic education in Sanskrit under a teacher named Nilmantha Sastri. After acquiring some proficiency in Sanskrit, the young man set out from his village in search of patronage to Trivandrum, the capital of the benevolent Travancore kings. It is said that he reached Trivandrum on foot at the age of sixteen, where he found a residence in the village of Chalai.

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