Ramanuja was born in a Brahmin family in the village of Perumbudur, Tamil Nadu in 1017 CE. He was parented by Asuri Keshava Somayaji Deekshitar and Kanthimathi. It is believed that from a young age he had an extraordinary intellect and liberal attitude towards caste. He was married off in his teenage years. After his father's death he and his family moved to the city of Kanchipuram. There he found his first formal teacher, Yadavaprakasha, who was a renowned Advaitin scholar. Ramanuja had an ability to interpret abstract philosophies.
Ramanuja renounced his worldly life travelled to Srirangam to meet Yamunacharya, a philosopher of the developing Visistadvaita philosophy. Yamunacharya however died before the arrival of Ramanuja. Followers of Ramanuja speak of the legend that there are fingers of Yamunacharya's dead body were curled. Ramanuja saw this and felt that Yamunacharya was concerned about three things. Ramanuja took a vow to complete these three tasks: Teaching the doctrine of Saranagati to God in order to achieve Moksha, write a Visistadvaita Bhashya for the Brahma Sutras of Vyasa and the names of Parasara, the author of Vishnu Purana and saint Sathakopa should be maintained.
It is also believed that on hearing the Ramanuja's vow, the three fingers on the corpse straightened. Ramanuja spent 6 months in learning Yamunacharya's philosophy from his disciple Mahapurna but did not join the community for another year. Ramanuja's wife Raksambal followed religiously brahminical rules and ridiculed Mahapurna's wife as being of lower caste. Mahapurna left Srirangam along with his wife. Thereafter he realized that that his worldly life was interfering with his philosophical hunt as he and his wife differed. He sent her to her house and renounced family thereby becoming a sanyasin.
Thereafter Ramanuja lived in Kanchipuram for sometime as the head of a monastery. Ramanuja started travelling extensively. He had philosophical debates with the custodians of various Vishnu temples. Many of them became his disciples after losing debate.