Ramalingam was born in Thiruthuraipoondi, Thanjavur District. He joined the Tamil Nadu Educational Service in 1964 and later became Professor and Head of the Tamil department at Government Arts College, Kumbakonam. He has written seven volumes of literary criticism. In 1981, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for Tamil for his critical work on modern Tamil prose Pudhiya Urai Nadai (lit. The New Prose).