Hinduism encompasses the myriad beliefs originating in India, home to 80 per cent of the world`s Hindu population. The word `Hindu` comes from the Farsi sindhu describing the peoples living east of the river Indus, one of the two great rivers of the subcontinent. A marriage of philosophy and doctrine, interwoven with culture and tradition, Hinduism is directed towards selfless living, a fundamental belief being that the soul or atman survives death.
All Hindus aspire to develop a positive karma which will influence a better rebirth. God assumes many forms in Hinduism of which Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer are most central. Sacred Hindu writings are recorded as epic poems and philosophical texts, the oldest scriptures being a collection of hymns known as the Rig Veda. Thousands of temples and shrines all over South Asia reflect Hindu devotion. The most famous pilgrimage centre is Varanasi where every Hindu hopes to have his ashes scattered on the Ganga. Hardwar is another pilgrimage centre, Vrindaban birthplace of Krishna, Dwarka in Gujerat and Puri, with a huge temple dedicated to Vishnu are other major places of pilgrimage.
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