Adiga was born in the coastal village of Mogeri, Udupi district, in state of Karnataka. After completing his primary education in Mogeri and Baindooru, he attended high school in Kundapur, 14 miles away from his village. His education would have ended after high school, but for the foresight of his aunt, who, against the will of other family members, gave moral and monetary support for his college studies. Thus, Adiga went to Mysore and earned his BA (Hons) in English from Maharaja’s College, Mysore, University of Mysore.
After several minor jobs in Karnataka, Adiga worked at Sarada Vilas College in Mysore as lecturer in English from 1948 to 1952, during which time he completed a master’s degree from Nagpur University. He also served at St. Philomena College in Mysore for ten years. In the mid 1960s, he became Principal at the newly created Lal Bahadur Shashtri College in Sagara, and later at Poorna Prajna College in Udupi.
Adiga’s grandson is Manu Raju, Senior Political reporter for CNN.