Prince Ilango was the brother of Chera king Cheran Chenguttuvan was born in the Chera dynasty, the west part of Tamilakam, (in modern day Kerala), in South India. According to a legend, an astrologer predicted that he would become the ruler of the land and to obviate such a happening, especially when his elder brother the rightful heir was alive, the prince became a Jain monk taking the name of Ilango Adigal, Adigal indicating that he had become a Jain monk.
He is reputed to be the brother of Chera king Senguttuvan, although there is no evidence in the Sangam poetries that the famous king had a brother. There are also claims that Ilango Adigal was a contemporary of Sattanar, the author of Manimekalai. The prologues of each of these books tell us that each were read out to the author of the other [Silappatikaram, pathigam 90].