It is a well-known work dealing mainly with temples and temple-rituals. Actually, it is a compendium which has brought together in one place, all the essential aspects of the subject from various authoritative sources.
The author is Nārāyaṇan Nampūtiri (or Nambūdiri) belonging to an illustrious house of Nampūtiri brāhmaṇas called Cennās. He lived in the 15th Century A. D., the year of birth being A. D. 1427.
The work is in 12 paṭalas or chapters and has 1801 stanzas in different metres. Śaṅkara, the son of the author, has written a commentary called Vimarśinī.
Two more works, the Devālaya- candrikā and Mānava-vāstu-lakṣaṇa, are also attributed to him.
A brief account of the contents of the work may now be given here:
Selection of a guru; selection of a suitable site for the construction of the temple; Vāstubali rite; depositing the nidhikumbha (See NIDHIKUMBHA for details.); laying of the bricks; placing of the foundation stone; selection of suitable granite for the construction.
Characteristics of the Prāsāda or the temple proper; its measurements; details of construction; about the idol and its pedestal; types of idols and their measurements; balipīṭhas; pañcaprākāras or the five surrounding walls.
Purification of the site; sowing of the seeds to test the suitability of the site; preparation of the idol; ceremonies for purifying the temple premises; ceremonial placing of the idol in water and related rituals.
Purification of the maṇḍapas or temple halls; offering oblations to minor deities; purification of the spot where the kalaśas (ceremonial pots of water) are kept; kindling of the sacred fire; worship of the bed to place the idol horizontally before installing it; bathing the idol with the waters of the kalaśas.
Purification of the preceptor and spiritually converting his body into a body of fire; ceremonially placing the akṣaras or varṇas (letters of the alphabet) on the various parts of the body of the preceptor; oblations into the sacrificial fire in connection with the ceremony of installation.
Consecration of the idol; depositing of the precious stones in the hole below the seat of the idol; fixing the idol to the seat with the specially prepared gum-paste called aṣṭabandha; installation of the Saptamātṛkās (‘seven mothers’); installation of the balipīṭha and dhvajastambha (flag staff); purification of the deity.
Details of the daily services; meditation of various kinds; worship of the deity with sixteen items (called ṣoḍaśopacāra-pūjā).
Preparation of kalaśas with 25 articles and water as also their purification; kalaśas for different deities like Śiva, Durgā, Gaṇapati, Subrahmaṇya, Śāstā and Śaṅkaranārāyaṇa.
Conduct of festivals; erection of the flagstaff; oblations to the bhūtas (spirits) and the deity; propitiation of the Sapta-mātṛkās; putting the deity to sleep; procession of the utsavamūrti.
Expiations of various kinds to offset the effects of improper performance of daily rituals; purification of the idol called ‘catuśśuddhi’.
Rituals connected with the renovation or reconstruction of the temple structure; of the idol, the pedestal etc., refixing the idol with the aṣṭabandha paste.
Miscellaneous topics; additional rituals; hand-poses for rites; specifications for making sacrificial utensils; yantras or diagrams for worship; some mantras of deities and their use.
Though the work contains many details of temple rituals and associated subjects, only a very brief account has been presented here.