Puviyarasu was born in a village near Udumalpet. His birth name was S. Jagannathan. Puviyarasu is the Tamil translation of the Sanskritic "Jagannathan". His family moved to and settled in Coimbatore. He obtained his intermediate degree from Government Arts College, Coimbatore and his Tamil Vidwan degree from Perur Tamil College. He worked as a Tamil teacher for more than thirty years. He first started publishing in 1952. He is a Marxist by political orientation and is an opponent of Dravidian parties. He was imprisoned for his participation in agitations for making Tamil the administrative language of Tamil Nadu and the border agitations. He was one of the founders of the short-lived Vanambadi literary movement. In his literary career he has published more than 80 books. He has also translated the works of Shakespeare, Khalil Gibran, Omar Khayyam, Osho, Dostoevsky and Rabindranath Tagore into Tamil. Some of his poems have been translated into English, Russian, Hungarian, Malayalam, Kannada, Hindi and Sinhalese. In 2007 he won the Sahitya Akademi Award for translation for his poem Puratchikaaran - translation of Kazi Nazrul Islam's The Revolutionary. In 2010, he was awarded the Sahitya Akademi Award for Tamil for his poetry collection Kaioppam (lit. The Signature). The charitable trust Puviyarasu Tamil Valarchi Mayyam (started for training Tamil teachers properly) has been named after him. He currently lives in Coimbatore.
Partial bibliography 
- Ettu thisai kaarru
- Kavithaikenna Kelvi
- Meendum zen kavithaikal
- Idu dhan
- The Book of Mirdad by Mikha'il Na'ima
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Romeo and Juliet
- Moondram pirai
Awards and recognitions 
- Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation (2007)
- Kalaignar Porkizhi Award (2008)
- Sahitya Akademi Award for Tamil (2009)
- Sahitya Puraskar Award from Kerala Cultural Centre
- Tamil Sahitya Akademi Awards 1955-2007 Sahitya Akademi Official website.
- "Sahitya Akademi award for Puviarasu". The Hindu. 24 December 2009. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
- "‘Younger generation has social consciousness but no pace’". The Hindu. 11 January 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2010.