A heterodox sect of world-renouncers founded by Makkhali Gosala, a contemporary and opponent of the Buddha (5th century BCE). Gosala was the itinerant companion of the Jain leader Mahāvīra for six years before they parted after a disagreement. Jainism and Ajivika differ in belief although they share similar practices: initiation is by tearing out one's hair and a lifestyle of extreme austerity, involving nakedness, penance, and ordeals, is required. Ajivikas believed that life was governed by fate and denied the existence of free will. The sect also believed that each soul went through a process of reincarnation lasting billions of years, experiencing all possible life forms until it attained perfection and release. The Ajivikas were an important sect at the time of the Buddha and continued as so for hundreds of years. By the Middle Ages, however, it had disappeared.