Was Tolkien influenced by India? Recall his background. He lived in an England which had India as the jewel of the crown, that too at it peak. Oxford and Cambridge, with their various colleges attracted a large of Indians for education. Being a philologist, he just could not have been but have had some exposure to old Indian literature. Since most in the west are not conversant with ancient Indian literature, they are not expected to spot the Indian influences. Devas and elves Devas, aka gods, initially were not immortal, ie they could be killed but did not die of any other cause. Elves too were exactly like that. Second, Devas came from svarga, the undying land, like elves. Then svarga, at one time was within the "circles" of earth, later on it no longer has been, so is the case with the Undying Land. If Tolkien's Undying land is barred to mortals so is svarga, except after death. Devas too were, like elves, inherently benevolent, noble and had and aura about them. Like elves, they too taught men in many fields. They did intermarry with humans. Gandalf and Vashishtha Vashishtha was a powerful sage, and finds mention in Rig Veda, Zarushthrian literature and the first epic Ramayna, the firt epic. Though he could vanquish most powerful rakshas, he did not do it himself, but drafted Rama and His brother Lakshman for cleanising of the forests from the scourge of rakshas. Just look at Gandalf. He was powerful but did not vanquish Sauron and other scourges directly. He drafted Bilbo to deal with the Smaug the dragon. Though the dragon was killed by Bard, but signal contreibution of Bilbo is undeniable. Likewise, to deal with Sauron, he drafted Frodo, men, elves, dwarves etc. Vashishtha after rout of Rakshsas from the forest left the administration to the king of Ayodhya. Ditto Gandalf. Hobbits and apes Tolkien mentions that Hobbits once roused could do great deeds to change the destiny of the world. Most famous are Bilbo and Frodo though there have other Hobbits too who did great deeds. Humble apes helped Rama in vanquishing Ravana that too right in his capital Lanka. Hanuman, the most well known to the west burnt down Lanka, like falling of the rings in fires of doom overthrew bastions of Saurons. King under the mountain In Ramayana, it is mentioned that ape kings had some powerful kingdoms. Most notable is the city of Kishkindha under the mountain. It was ruled by Bali and later by his younger brother Sugriva, who was the chief of apes who helped Rama. Tolkien too conceived of kingdoms under the mountains. most notable Moria under Misty Mountains and that under the Lonely mountain. Kishkindha had streets, roads, palaces, halls, general quarters, fountains etc. You name a feature of Lonely mountain kingdom, it is already there in Kishkindha. Too much of a coincidence. Stewards of Gondor That is one of the many institutions in LOTR, which is not found anywhere in westren literature or traditions. However it was quite common in INdia of the old. Whenever the king was absent or unable to discharge his functions, he appointed a senior minister as guardian/steward of the kingdom. Absence could be due to pilgrimage, sickness or the untimely death when the heir was a minor. Thus stewardship could continue for years. Most famous case is of Rama and his brother Bharat. When Rama was in exile , Bharat declined to ascend the throne. But he agreed to act as steward during Rama's exile, exercising the powers and functions of the king, but like Stewards of Gondor, her did not sit on the throne, but on a seat lower down, while the throne was occupied by Rama's wooden slippers. Eagles They took some thinking to place. In Hinduism, Garuda, the eagle, is the mount of Lord Vishnu. Garuda is supposed to be demi celestial and very strong and powerful in his own right. Gawiihir was not celestial, but was very strong. Moreover he could speak with humans and Hobbits in a language easily understood by all. There is another powerful bird mentioned in Ramayna, Jatayu the great Vulture. He was strong and powerful had special powers like assuming human form. When Ravana abducted Sita, wife of Rama, and was going to his Lanka by aerial ways, Jatayu spotted him, Though old at that time he attacked Ravana in an attempt to rescue Sita, but was badly injured by Ravana and fell down to the earth. He later disclosed to the identity of the abductor. Elephants vs ouliphaunts Indians used elephants as a war animal. It is mentioned in LOTR that Southrons, who allied with Sauron, too used ouliphonts. Both the beasts are strikingly similar. Aragorn and Bhishma Bhishma was blessed by his father with death at the time of his own choosing. Arogorn was similarly blessed by Elrond. Both were formidable warriors and could not be defeated in combat. *** Tolkien himself denies that LOTR is allegorical of bible and christianity. But only that.