Muttutāṇḍavar

Muttutāṇḍavar lived in the later part of the 16th century. He was a poet and composer of Tamil songs. He was born in Sīrkāzhi in a family dedicated to the service of temple. They were hereditary musicians in the temple. Their duty was to perform on musical instruments during the temple rituals. He was named Tāṇḍavar and like the other members of his family, he grew up with great devotion to Lord Śiva. But he was not able to follow the family profession as he was suffering from leprosy. But still he went to the temple everyday and worshipped Lord Śiva and Pārvati with great devotion. One day while in a dejected state of mind he went to the temple and as he was praying, he was overcome by hunger and weakness and fell into deep sleep. The temple priest not knowing this locked up the temple after the midnight pūja and went home. After a while, Tāṇḍavar woke up and being tortured by hunger and disease, began praising Lord. Śiva was greatly moved by his devotion and asked Pārvati to help him. She was filled with pity and appeared before Tāṇḍavar in the guise of a ten year old daughter of the temple priest, with a food bowl in her hands. Seeing this pathetic condition she asked him to go to Cidambaram and sing a song on sabhāpati using the first words that would fall on his ears while worshipping in the temple as the commencing words of the song. Saying this, she disappeared. Tāṇḍavar then only realized that it was Goddess Uma who had helped him. The rest of the night he spent in the Sannidhi praising Lord Śiva and his consort. When in the morning the priest opened the doors of the temple he was taken aback. On seeing the temple plate with him, the priest was convinced of his greatness and bhakti.

Then as per divine command he started for Cidambaram. He reached Cidambaram and was thrilled by the sight of Lord Natarāja. As he stood before the dancing God in ecstasy, he heard some one from the end of the crowd worshippers saying the words 'Bhūlōka kailāsa giri Cidambaram'. He was now deeply moved and sang his first song with these words as the pallavi in the rāga Bhavapriya, Miśra Jhampa tāḷa. Immediately his disease vanished and God himself provided him with the means for his livelihood. So after his gratitude and worship to God, he came back to Sīrkāzhi. From then onwards he went every day to Cidambaram and worshipped there by singing a new song each day, using the first words that fell on his ears as the starting words of the Pallavi.

One day when he was standing before the diety, strangely not a single word was uttered by any of the devotees present. He was perplexed. At that time the song 'Pēsāte neñjamē' ( do not speak, my heart!) in Sūryakānta rāga, Miśra cāppu tāḷa was composed by him.

One day he started to Cidambaram. But when he came to river Koḷḷiḍam, he could not cross it, as it was in floods. He was very much disappointed at not being able to make the customary visit to Tillai and he sang the kīrtana 'Kāṇāmaḷ vīṇilē kazhittōmē' in Kāmbhōji. Gradually the flood subsided enabling him to cross the river when he burst in to another piece, 'Darisanam seivēnē' in the rāga Vasanta set to Ādi tāḷa. On worshipping the deity, he sang another piece, 'Kaṇḍapin kaṇ kuḷidēn'.

On another occasion he was bitten by a snake. At that time he sang the kīrtana, 'Arumarundoru tani marundu' and it is said that at once he recovered from the effects of snake poison. On another day when he stood in the temple singing the song, 'Māṇikkavācakar pēr', he departed his life and became one with the Lord. He passed away on the day of Pūsa nakṣatram in the month of āvaṇi.

Muttutāṇḍavar has composed many kīrtana-s and pada-s. He is one of the earlies Tamil pada composer. His songs overflow with bhakti and great devotion towards God. They are in catchy tunes. The language is also very simple. His songs are based on the tenets of Śaiva Siddhānta philosophy. Many of his songs are composed in praise of Lord Natarāja of Cidambaram. They are in easy flowing Tamil and breathe the fragrance of bhakthi. His composition number a few hundreds. His pada-s like 'Teruvil vārānō', Hamsa rāga are on the theme of 'Gaurava sṛṅgāram'.