Christine Mangala was born into an Brahmin family in Tanjore, India and educated at Delhi University where she received a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree. She also studied at Cosmania University, India, where she received a Master of Arts degree. In 1968 Mangala became the first woman to win the Nehru Memorial Trust Scholarship. The scholarship allowed her to study at Cambridge Univeristy where she was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in English literature.
Since 1968 Mangala has lived mainly in the West. She has worked as a lecturer and a tutor in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and India and at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales. In 1992, she was short-listed for both the Deo Gloria Award (U.K.) and the Commonwealth First Book Prize (South Asia Region) for The Firewalkers.