Jainism as a religious tradition was established in India about the same time as Buddhism. Mahavira, one of the jinas (conquerors) preached the Jain philosophy around the same time that Buddhism began. Like Buddhism, Jainism opposed the corruption in the interpretation of Hinduism and questioned practices like casteism. The underlying philosophy of Jainism is that renunciation of worldly desires and self-conquest leads to perfect wisdom. This faith believes in total abstinence and asceticism as practised by the Jinas and the Tirthankars ("crossing-makers"). The "crossing refers to the passage from the material to the spiritual realm, from to freedom. Followers of this faith accept the popular gods of Hinduism but they are placed lower than the jinas.
The focus of this religion has been purification of the soul by means of right conduct, right faith and right knowledge. This faith also enunciates complete non-violence and the Jain monks can be seen with their nose and mouth covered by a cloth mask to ensure that they do not kill any germs or insects while breathing. Today, Jainism has more than 3 million adherents in India and finds wide acceptance because of its philosophy of sympathy for all living beings.