The Hindi studies at Peking University was initiated in 1917. When the National Oriental Language College was established in 1942, the Hindi studies were started. Merged into Peking University in 1949, Hindi became one of the languages taught in the Department of Indian Language and Literature. In 1946, Mr. Ji Xianlin was employed to establish the Department of Oriental Languages and Sanskrit and Pali were two of the earliest languages taught in the Department where Ji was the first professor. In 1948 Mr. Jin Kemu also came to Peking University. Together with Mr. Ji, they began the teaching and research of Indian studies in the real sense.
     The Department belongs to the sub-category studies announced by the Ministry of Education, is one of the first National Key Majors and one of the earliest majors that can offer master and PhD degrees in this field. It was assessed as one of the National Key Majors in 2002 and 2006, and is the only one that can grant PhD degrees in this field nationwide. Meanwhile, the Department is part of the National Undergraduate Student Training Base for Non-generic Language at Peking University and part of the Key Social Sciences Base for Oriental Literature Research of Ministry of Education.
In 2008, the Department was evaluated as the Specialized Major of Ministry of Education and in 2009 it was evaluated as Beijing Municipal Specialized Major.
       The current faculty of the Department is consisted of 17 members with seven professors, five associate professors and five lecturers. Their research covers ancient Indian language and literature, cultural exchange between China and India, research on Buddhist history and literature, contemporary language and literature of South Asia, religions of South Asia, culture of South Asia, research on South Asia. Now we have eight master research tracks and eight PhD research tracks.