Jainism is of great antiquity, being older than even Buddhism. Its exponent, Vardhamana Mahavira, was born about 599 BC. The Jains believe that right faith, right knowledge, right conduct and chastity lead the wayfarer along the path of salvation. Ultimate release from matter is, according to the Jains, the ideal state of existence for the soul.
As even the minutest being is believed to have life, the Jain is very careful not to destroy or kill it. Jainism is a monastic religion and the Jain community consists not only of laymen but also of monks and nuns. The Jains are concentrated mostly in western India, particularly in Gujrat and Karnataka, where many beautiful temples have been built.