The profile of Brahmin elitism was, in certain respects, not unlike that of the higher clergy in the Western Church where there were often conflicts between the ecclesiastical and secular powers on matters of authority. The Brahmins claimed a higher rank as it was they who were the interpreters of the holy laws which it was incumbent on the monarchy to observe and obey. In the quest for salvation, reformed Brahminical teaching emphasized the need for austerities, even to the point of asceticism. It stressed not only escape from sinfulness, suffering and imperfection, but also from this whole transitory existence. The relative stability of a Brahmin-cum-aristocratic dominance of Indian society has been questioned by some scholars. It has been argued that from about 1500, Islamic influence had become so strong among upper-class Hindus, including Brahmins, that their life-styles had changed considerably.