Aravindan Neelakandan was born on 16 June 1971 at Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, India into a family of academicians. His paternal grandfather was a scholar well-versed in the art of Varma kalai of Siddha Marma science. His father, N. S. Pillai, is a Tamil scholar, retiring as a professor from Travancore Hindu College in Nagercoil. His mother is a retired professor of economics at the same institution and was a student leader associated with the anti-Hindi agitation in Tamil Nadu.
Aravindan started his academic life as a student of agricultural studies and has a master's degree in psychology from Madras University and in economics from Madurai Kamaraj University.