Indian non-vedic religion, which is characterized by denial of Vedas authority, strict asceticism and belief in possibility of self-salvation. Jainism appeared around 500 BC. The founder of the doctrine is considered to be the kshatriya Mahāvīra.

The philosophy and practice of Jainism are based on the self-cultivation of the soul to achieve omniscience, omnipotence and eternal bliss. Every soul that overcomes the corporeal shell left over from previous lives and reaches nirvana is called jina. Nirvana in Jainism is defined as liberation from the karmic substance achieved in the process of religious practice in the absence of an influx of new karmas. Jainism calls for spiritual perfection through the development of wisdom and self-control.

There are five basic ethical principles — vows (vrata) that Jains must fulfill. The degree to which these vows should be strictly fulfilled depends on whether one is a jain monk or a layman (gṛhastha). These are:

• Do not harm the living (ahiṃsā);

• Be sincere and pious (satya);

• Do not steal (asteya);

• Not to commit adultery (brahmacarya);

• Do not acquire (aparigraha).

Practicing Jains follow the teachings of twenty-four special jinas, which are known as tīrthaṅkara ("the creators of the crossing", "those who found and showed the way to salvation"). Traditionally, it is believed that Śrī Mahāvīra was the twenty-fourth and last tīrthaṅkara.