As an abbot in East Grove Temple for 36 years, he had a following of 1000 Shamen (or Buddhist monks). He led 123 learned monks and his favorite disciples to form a society known as “White Lotus”. They translated, annotated and collated Buddhist scriptures, and their society became the founder of the Pure Land (or Lotus) Sect of Oriental Buddhism. During the Eastern Jin Dynasty the Eminent Monk Buddhabhadra of Nepal and the Eminent Monk Buddhayasa of India visited the temple. East Grove Temple was in its prime in the Tang Dynasty. In AD 753 the Eminent Monk Jian Zhen travelled from Yangzhou to visit the temple, and then journeyed east t Japan to propagate Buddhism. It was thus the scriptures of East Grove Temple that were introduced into Japan. East Grove Temple has also contributed to China’s cultural exchange and friendly relations with Nepal and India as well as Japan.
Legends concerning Hui Yuan abound among the people of Lushan, the most popular perhaps being the one about Three Laughs Brook. Hui Yuan is said to have spent his time in meditation and seldom ventured beyond the brook before his temple. To guard the temple gate he kept a tiger there that would roar if Hui Yuan went beyond the brook. The poet Tao Yuanming and the Taoist priest Lu Xiujing used to visit Hui Yuan at the temple. And once when seeing his friends off the three were walking outside and wandered past the brook, the tiger roared, evoking laughter from all three, and so the name Three Laughs Brook stuck.
To the west of East Grove Temple stands Thousand Buddha Pagoda, or West Grove Pagoda, as it is situated close to the temple, built nine years earlier than it. Today, after destruction by fire in war, only Thousand Buddha Pagoda built in the Tang Dynasty remains. Seven-storeyed and turret-shaped, it has multiple niches on every side.