SACRED CITIES: Benares. Once known as Benares, now known as Varanasi, it is still the city where the dead are reborn. Hinduism, the oldest religious tradition on earth, venerates water and the act of washing as central sacraments to the faith. As death approaches, devout Hindus journey to what they believe is the oldest city on the earth. Through reincarnation they have lived many lives, rising from the lowest forms of life — a germ or a plant, through human slaves to Brahmins, then to even higher spiritual lives as teachers, gurus and saints. Finally, after many thousands of years and lifetimes, they are ready to escape the cycle of material life (Moksha) and enter the realm of pure spirituality (Nirvanah). One final wash in the river removes the last stain of sin and they soar into spiritual union with the universe. Join Ron Brown in visiting one of the most fascinating sacred cities of the world. Sponsored by the Friends of the Library. 3 p.m.