Jainism is an ancient, Indian-born philosophy, dating back to Vedic times. Twenty-four preachers known as `Jinas(conquerors) or
`Tirthankaras propounded it. Its first founder or `Tirthankarawas Rishabhadeva mentioned in the Yajur Veda. The 24th and last
Tirthankara was Mahavira. It is a Nastik (atheist) philosophy and does not accept the Vedas to be revelations from God. In fact, it does
not believe in a God, though it does believe in re-birth. The ethical doctrines of Jainism are based on the path of liberation,
comprising right belief, right knowledge, and right conduct. The prescriptions or rules of Jainism are about the way to achieve this
liberation. They apply both to ascetics and householders. The householders have twelve Vratas or codes of conduct, five Anuvratas (small
vows), and seven Shilavratas (supplementary vows). If the Anuvaratas are strictly performed, they become Mahavratas (Great vows).
The Jains have two major sects, Digambara (Sky-clad or naked) and Shvetambara (White-clad). Digambara Jains are more austere and
go about nude or free from all material trappings and social inhibitions. They allow for voluntary death in order to attain Kavalajnana
or final liberation. In the latter and less austere sect Shvetambara, people can use a simple white cloth. The difference in the two
sects is more in rituals than in doctrines.