S. R. Ramaswamy was born to Mulukanadu Brahmin parents S. Ramachandra Sastri and Sarasvatamma on 29 October 1937 at Bangalore. He comes from a scholarly lineage and is the nephew of the historian and polyglot S. Srikanta Sastri as well as Asthan Vidwan Motaganahalli Subramanya Sastri who was editor of "Ranga Bhoomi" and is credited with "Karnata Malavikagnimitra" & translation of Valmiki's Ramayana from Sanskrit to Kannada. He is the great grand-nephew of Maha Asthan Vidwan Motaganahalli Ramshesha Sastri who was the first person to translate Bhagavata from original Sanskrit to Kannada and Asthan Vidwan Motaganahalli Shankara Sastri who is credited with the composition of "Vedanta Panchadarshi", a work extensively quoted by D. V. Gundappa. Ramaswamy's ancestor Yagnapathi Bhatta or Yagnam Bhatta was a court poet in the court of Immadi Kempegowda. Ramaswamy's older brother is the journalist S. R. Krishnamurthy.
S. R. Ramaswamy had his preliminary schooling at Bangalore High School at Bangalore. He later on studied "Intermediate" course at The National College, Basavanagudi, Bangalore in the year 1953 – 54.
S. R. Ramaswamy began his career in journalism as an assistant editor at the William Quan Judge (W. Q. Judge) Press at Bangalore in the late 1950s. Following a brief interlude, he joined the Kannada weekly "Sudha" as the Chief Sub – Editor in 1972, a position he held until 1979. In 1980 he was made Honorary Editor – in – Chief at "Rashrothana Sahitya" and Kannada monthly "Utthana" at Bangalore, a position he continues to grace till date. S. R. Ramaswamy has been actively involved in delivering lectures at seminars and conferences across the country concerning a wide range of social, cultural and literary topics.
S. R. Ramaswamy continues to contribute actively to Kannada dailies such as "Prajavani" and "Kannada Prabha" among others. S. R. Ramaswamy is well versed in Sanskrit, Hindi, German, French, Kannada and Telugu – and has authored 55 books both in Kannada and English and about thousand articles, excluding numerous translations from various languages to Kannada. An excerpt from one of his earliest pieces – a review of noted French poet, essayist and philosopher – Ambroise Paul Toussaint Jules Valéry's "The Quintessentialised Intellectual" published in the 1972 PEN International Edition surmises his keen insight and in-depth knowledge of world literature:
S. R. Ramaswamy came to prominence when he authored an "Art Catalogue" on famous Russian painter Svetoslav Roerich chronicling his many paintings and exhibitions that the painter hosted in different countries across the world. The book has in it some rare photographs depicting the acclaimed Russian painter explaining and often showcasing his works to heads of states such as Nikita Khrushchev and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru among others. Printed in limited numbers, the book is seldom found in libraries and is a collector's item today. Ramaswamy also came in contact with such eminent personalities as art critic Venkataram and internationally renowned Gandhian Economists Lakshmi Chand Jain and Sri Kumarappa.
S. R. Ramaswamy has been active in literature and journalism for over five decades and is a staunch advocate of the "Swadeshi movement" in India. Over the last few decades, Ramaswamy has spearheaded "Voluntary Rural Development Initiatives" in the Indian state of Karnataka with the aim of empowering the rural population for self-governance and better administration. He has been fighting for various environmental causes, both at state and national levels, often culminating in landmark legal battles before the Supreme Court of India. Most memorable of these was a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) he fought along with noted Kannada Litterateur Shivaram Karanth against Government of Karnataka concerning the conservation of nearly 30,000 hectares of reserve forest which was set aside to be handed over to a paper industry.
His association with noted composer, singer and writer Rallapalli Ananta Krishna Sharma enabled him to acquire proficiency in Carnatic as well as Hindustani classical music. His proficiency in the classical Indian dance form – Bharata Natyam was the result of his years of association with eminent dance maestro V. S. Kowshik.
Having remained a bachelor, S. R. Ramaswamy continues to remain active in public life. The "Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs" – an independent, non-party and non-communal organization established to function as a centre for education of the public towards a constructive democratic citizenship was founded in the year 1949 by noted Kannada writer and philosopher D. V. Gundappa. After D. V. Gundappa's tenure, the administration fell on the shoulders of retired Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court – Nittoor Srinivasa Rau who subsequently bequeathed the administrative responsibilities to S. R. Ramaswamy who has ever since headed the organization in the position of Secretary. S. R. Ramaswamy has had the distinction of organizing four programmes a month over 12 months, almost a year in advance.
S. R. Ramaswamy has consistently declined requests to visit foreign countries in connection with various conferences and seminars. In fact, he declined an invitation from the United Nations Office for a Global Environmental Summit at Rio de Janeiro in the 1990s citing personal reasons. However, Ramaswamy is actively involved in the Indian setting and has delivered papers at over 100 seminars & workshops on topics such as "Sharathchandra" (1977), "Towards Understanding Hindu Society" (1990), "Gandhian Concept of Ecology" (1992), "Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose" (1996), "The Regime of Sir Mirza Ismail" (1998), "Life and Work of V. Sitaramaiah", "Swadeshi movement of 1905: Historic Turning Point" (2005), "Saga of Patriotism: Martyrs in the Freedom Movement" (2007), "Contribution of Rallapalli Ananta Krishna Sharma to Kannada and Telugu" (2010), "Life and work of D. V. Gundappa" (2011), "Contribution of Sanskritist Professor S. K. Ramachandra Rao" (2013) and "Belagere Krishna Sastri" (2013).
S. R. Ramaswamy's vast contribution to the world of journalism, literature, criticism and social activism have earned him many awards and accolades over the years. A few of these awards are listed here: –"Canara Bank Award" First prize for article on "The Life of Soliga Tribals" (1983)
"Canara Bank Award" First prize for article on "State of Land Reforms" (1984)
"Karnataka Sahitya Akademi Award" for "Shatamanada Tiruvinalli Bharata" (1989) as best work written in Social Science (1992)
"Aryabhata Award" for Journalism (2006)
"Karnataka Rajyotsava Prashasti" for Contribution to Literature (2008)
"Mythic Society Centenary Award" for Scholastic Achievements (2009)
Honorary Doctorate 'D. Litt' from Karnataka State Open University for Lifetime Contribution to Literature & Journalism (2011)(pictured-right)
Karnataka Madhyama Academy "Person of the Year" Award for five decades of service to Journalism (2011)
D. V. G Award - conferred by The D. V. G Balaga, Mysore
"Nadoja" Award - Conferred by Hampi University, Karnataka (2015)(pictured-left)