Kamaraj was born on 15th July 1903 to the parents Kumarasamy and Sivagami Ammal at Virudhunagar district in Tamil Nadu. His originally named Kamatchi, later changed to Kamarajar. His father Kumarasamy was a merchant. In 1907, four years after the birth of Kamaraj, his sister Nagammal was born. Kamaraj went to a traditional school when he was 5 years old (1907) and in 1908 he was admitted to Yenadhi Narayana Vidhya Salai. In 1909 Kamaraj was admitted in Virudupatti High School.
Kamaraj’s father died when he was six years old
His mother was forced to support the family. In 1914 Kamaraj stopped school to support his mother. Kamaraj’s mother sold all jewelry except her earrings and deposited the money with a local merchant and cared for the entire family on the monthly interest that the money earned. Kamaraj was not a good student in school and dropped out when he was in the sixth grade.
When he entered mainstream public life he felt handicapped and realized the importance of a good education. He educated himself during his periods of imprisonmentand even learned English from his co-worker.
Kamaraj joined as an apprentice in his maternal uncle Karuppiah’s cloth shop after dropping out of school.
He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph.
He would slip out from the shop to join processions and attend public meetings addressed by orators like Dr. Varadarajulu Naidu and George Joseph. His relatives frowned upon Kamaraj ’s budding interest in politics. They sent him to Thiruvananthapuram to work at another uncle’s timer shop. Even there Kamaraj participated in the Vaikom Satyagraha led by George Joseph, of the Congress, against theatrocities of the higher caste Hindus on the Harijans.