Huai Su (AD 637-710) moved to Jingzhao (in today’s Xi’an city, Shaanxi province) from his ancestral home in Changsha. He was a noted calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Huai was intelligent in his childhood. He wanted to become a monk at the age of 10, but his parents stopped him. When the Monk Xuan Zang returned from India in 645, Huai Su vowed to learn from him and study the abstinence rules. Later, he specialized in religious texts. From 670, Huai Su wrote Si Fen Lv Kai Zong Ji, Ju She Lun Shu (15 volumes), Yi Jiao Jing Shu (2 volumes), Yi Jiao Jing Chao (3 volumes), Xin Shu Shi Yi Chao (20 volumes), Si Fen Seng Ni Jie Mo Wen (2 volumes), and Si Fen Seng Ni Jie Ben, Ri Song Jin Gang Jing (30 volumes), taught vinaya, copied numerous Buddhist scriptures and painted countless figures of the Buddha.
Huai Su decided to set up a new vinaya school since he found that the Buddhist Classics of Fali and Daoxuan schools were not complete. He developed the Dongta Vinaya School, the third in the Buddhist sect, following the Xiangbu Vinaya School and Nanshan Vinaya School. The name arose because Huai Su lived in Dongta (East Pagoda) in the Taiyuan Temple in Chang’an (today’s Xi’an) in 676.
He abandoned the shortcomings while making much of the merits of his predecessors’ works, showing both his respect for and critical thinking about their achievements. His doctrines and opinions once created a great sensation and were highly praised. After Huai’s death at the age of 74, the only famous monks in the Dongta Vinaya School were Ru Jing, Cheng Chu, and Yuan Zhao. Only the disciplines of the Nanshan Vinaya School, founded in Fengde Temple, Jingye Temple in Zhongnan Mountain in Shaanxi province), had been handed down from ancient times.