Jainism is one of the oldest known religions in the world today. It is very closely related to Hinduism and is the minority religion of India. One difference from Hinduism would be the way that the Vedas are seen. Jainism is a non-vedic religion. Though, the views on karma and sansara are the same in both religions. The word Jainism is derived from Jina, meaning victor or conqueror. The universal message of Jainism is that of non-violence. There is no creator or God in this religion. It all started with Mahavira who was born around 599 BCE. He decided to abandon his well known life and take a not so traveled path of an ascetic life. He gave away his possessions, and embarked on a new journey. He went though castigation, including bodily and spiritual injury for twelve years. He emerged from this a teacher, preacher and founder of a new religion. The religion is based on the Tirkankaras, which are 24 role models. The first of these is Parshava, who is believed to live during the early days of the written Vedas. The last Tirthakankara is Mahavira, who was born in 599 BCE. Mahavira is the focal point on Jainism today.
There are two different groups of Jains, Shevtambaras and Digambaras. The two groups strongly disagree about the life of one of the Tirthankaras. This disagreement affects the way that each group lives their life. More people would be classified in the Shevtambara group than the Digambaras. The Shevambaras are always clothed in white and think that the wearing clothes has nothing to do with having the soul freed from the body. They also believe that both men and women can achieve liberation with out having to be reborn as a man. The other group of Jains is the Digambaras are also known as sky clad because of their belief that the air is their clothing. They choose to be nude because they see clothing as a attachment to the physical world. They believe that a true monk is always nude.