Sri Raghavendra Swami was born as Sri Venkata Natha (Venkata Ramana), the second son of Sri Thimanna Bhatta and Smt. Gopikamba on Thursday, Sukla Navami of Phalguna month in 1595, when the moon was in Mrigashīrsha Nakshatra, at Bhuvanagiri, near present-day Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. Sri Thimmanna Bhatta was the son of Sri Kanakachala Bhatta and the grandson of Sri Krishna bhatta, a Veena scholar in the court of King Krishnadevaraya. Sri. Thimanna Bhatta and his wife, Smt. Gopikamba had a son, Gururajacharya and a daughter, Venkatamba.
Sri Venkatanatha proved to be a very brilliant scholar from a very young age who learnt to play the Veena very proficiently thanks to his father and grandfather.
After his father's demise, Venkatanatha was brought up by his brother Sri Gururaja Bhatta and completed the initial portion of his education under his brother-in-law Lakshminarasimhacharya's guidance in Madurai.
After his return from Madurai in 1614, Sri Venkatanatha married Smt. Saraswathi Bai in the same year and had a son Sri Lakshminarayanacharya. After his marriage, Sri Venkatanatha and his family went to Kumbakonam where he studied the Dwaita vedantha, grammar and literary works under his guru, Sri Sudheendra Theertha.
Sri Venkatanatha was already very well versed in bhashyas and consistently prevailed over renowned and reputed scholars, irrespective of the complexity of the debates. He was an ardent devotee of Sri Moola Rama and Sri Panchamukha MukhyaPranaDevaru (the five-faced form of Hanuman - Pancha meaning five, mukha meaning faces). He spent a large part of his Poorvashrama life teaching Sanskrit and the ancient Vedic texts to children.
He never demanded any money for his services and endured a life of poverty along with his wife and son. They went without food several times a week. On occasion, his wife did not have change of clothes. This forced her daily change of wear to be dependent on when the clothes dried. She would wear 1/2 the saree, wait for the other 1/2 to dry and wrap it around her. But he was so devoted in his quest for a higher spiritual plane that these obstacles never deterred his faith in the Lord