Muththu Thandavar was born in Sirkazhi,in a family of instrumental musicians who served the temples. They were known as Isai Vellalar (those who cultivate music). He was named Thandavan after the deity at Chidambaram.
Very early in his life, Thandavan was afflicted by a dreadful disease and because of this, even his close relatives neglected him. He was living on the prasadam offered in the temple. One day, unable to bear the pangs of hunger, he prayed to God to come to his rescue. Goddess Uma appeared in the guise of the ten year old daughter of the temple priest and offered him food. She advised Thandavan to go and worship Lord Nataraja in Chidambaram to get cured of his disease. She advised him to compose songs on Him using the first word heard by him in the temple as the opening word of his song. After he sung his first composition, "Bhooloka kailasagiri chidambaram" (using the above cue), Lord cured him of his dreaded disease. Once he was bitten by a poisonous snake. He immediately sang, "Aru marundoru thani marundu ambalaththe kandene". The effects of the poison vanished. Muthuthandavar composed numerous kritis and padams in popular ragas and talas, of which 84 are available. Perhaps he is the first to compose padams. While singing his last composition, "Manickavachagar per enakku thara vallayo ariyen", he became one with God