Sadhu Kokila was born as Sahaya Sheelan into a Christian family of Natesh and Mangala. He was born to a family of musicians with father being a violinist in music band of Karnataka Police Department, his mother and sister being playback singers.Sadhu Kokila's brother Layendra is also an actor. Kokila studied in St. Joseph's Indian High School, Bangalore. He was given the stage name Sadhu Kokila by Upendra, the director of Sheelan's debut film Shhh!.
He began his career as a musician after he was taken to musician Kasturi Shankar by his brother. He is also one of the fastest keyboard players in India.