Jainism is an Indian religion that emphasizes complete non-violence and asceticism. Jainism emerged in 6th-century BCE India, the same time Buddhism was developing. The faith is named for the jinas, spiritual conquerors who have achieved liberation and perfection. Included among these are the 24 spiritual leaders called "ford-makers" or tirthankaras. The last of the tirthankaras was Mahavira (599-527 BCE), a contemporary of the Buddha who is generally considered the founder of Jainism.
Jinas are believed to reside in the top level of heaven, above the realm of the gods. Accordingly, liberated souls are revered more than the gods. Jainism incorporates the traditional Hindu concepts of karma and reincarnation, but rejects the Veda scriptures, castes and the idea of a creator god. The goal of life is to reach liberation by a life of purification, discipline, and nonviolence as taught by the tirthankaras.
Followers of Jainism are called Jains, and there are about 4 million worldwide. Jain ritual centers around on sacred images and mantras.