Madhura Kavi Aazhwar was born before Swami Nammazhwar, in a Brahmin family, in the month of Chittirai and in the chitra star in the divya desam called Thirukkolur near Aazhwar Thirunagari
Madhura Kavi Aazhwar learnt the Vedas and was well versed in both Tamil and Sanskrit. He used to compose poems in the praise of Bhagavan. At one stage in his life, he decided to abandon all the chains of samsara and strive towards moksham. In this pursuit he undertook a pilgrimage to the Vada naattu divya desams like Ayodhya, Mathura
When Madhura Kavi Aazhwar, after long tour had reached Ayodhya and completed the mangalaasasanam of the enchanting forms of Shri Rama, Sita piratti, Lakshmana, Hanuman and others he noticed a glowing ball of fire in the sky. However much he tried, he could not understand the reason for this phenomenon. He also noticed that the ball of fire started to slowly move southwards. He decided to follow the light which led him to Aazhwar Thirunagari and finally disappeared. Madhura Kavigal had already heard about a sixteen year old youth [Nammalvar] who had spent his life since birth under a Tamarind tree without eating anything and emitting a divine glow. Madhura Kavi Aazhwar proceeded straight to the Thiru Puli Aazhwar (seat of Swami Nammalvar) and found Swami in a trance.
In order to test Swami [Nammalvar], Madhura Kavigal dropped a stone, on hearing which Swami opened his eyes and smiled at Madhura Kavi Aazhwar. Now Madhura Kavi aazhwar wanted to test Swami for his spiritual wealth, and posed the following question to Swami:
Seththathin vayitril siriyadu pirandaal Eththai thindru enge kidakkum?
(literal translation – If the small one is born inside the dead one, what will it eat and where will it lie?)
Swami Nammzhwar's reply was: Aththai thindru ange kidakkum
(literal translation – It will eat that and lie there)
Madhura Kavi Aazhwar instantly recognized the greatness of Swami Nammazhwar and fell at his feet and resolved to become Swami Nammazhwar's disciple. Madhura Kavi aazhwar remained with Swami Nammazhwar for the rest of Swami Nammazhwar's life.
The philosophical meaning of this conversation is as below.
The question: If the jeevatma (soul) is born in the body which is attached to the samsara, what will it feed on and where will it live?
The answer: The soul will eat the alternating fruits of good and bad deeds done through the body and enjoy its existence in the samsara