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Satyamurti was born on August 19, 1887 in Tirumayyan village, in the principality of Pudukottai, now part of Tamil Nadu. His father, Surendur Sastriar, an orthodox brahmin, scholar, and pleader by profession, died leaving his wife, children and aged parents to fend for themselves. Satyamurti was the eldest of the five sons and one of nine children. It fell to him and his mother to care for the family.

He joined the Christian College, Madras in 1906 for his Bachelors of Arts Course. He was one of the most brilliant students and secured a first class in English and second class in Sanskrit and History. While he diligently pursued his studies, he was greatly influenced by the freedom struggle. He described his college year as "exciting times."

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