By Swami Harshananda
Śravaṇa (listening to Vedāntic statements), manana (deep reflection upon them) and nididhyāsana (meditation on the truths intellectually realised) is the standard method of Vedānta sādhanā (spiritual practice).
When the aspirant listens to the statements of the Śrutis (the Upaniṣads), he must be able to understand their meaning and purport very clearly. Then only the next two steps are possible.
To get a clear understanding of the scriptural statements one has to apply the test of ṣaḍvidhaliṅgas. Ṣaḍ means six and a liṅga is a characteristic sign. These are: upakrama and upasamhāra (statement of the subject in the beginning and reiterating it at the end); abhyāsa or repetition (repeated emphasis on this subject to fix it in the mind); apūrvatā or originality (showing that the meaning of this sentence cannot be gathered from any other source since it has never been stated earlier); phala or use (the utility of following the teaching thus obtained); arthavāda or eulogy (praising the greatness of the topic to make it palatable); upapatti or reasoning (logic in support of the main subject.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore