Toward Referencing Anālayo


As many of you know, Prof. Dr. Bhikkhu Anālayo is the most prolific scholar currently active in the field of early Buddhism. In 2019 alone he has published sixteen articles⁠ in academic journals (not counting other publications)—and the year hasn’t finished yet. As someone who’d like to delve deeper in his work this posed a problem for me: how to reference his work when making notes? The author-date system quickly gets overburdened; one would have to introduce Anālayo (2019a), Anālayo (2019b), etc.—potentially all the way up to Anālayo (2019p) and Anālayo (2019q). Or alternatively, one would have to use improvised abbreviations/links for the relevant articles.

As neither of these options particularly appealed to me, I decided to create my own reference system as an addition to the formal author-date system. I decided to share it here; perhaps it might be of use to others.

I have thought it prudent to the fourfold classification Anālayo used on his University of Hamburg (henceforth, UHH) homepage: (i) books, (ii) articles or chapters in books, (iii) articles in journals, and (iv) encyclopedia entries. I will use a distinct but similar reference system for each category.

I. Books

Below is the first book listed on Anālayo’s homepage (see link above):

  • Bhikkhunī Ordination from Ancient India to Contemporary Sri Lanka, New Taipei City: Āgama Research Group, 2018.

I have abbreviated this book as [BHI18]. The first three letters refer to the first three alphabetically pertinent characters, “Bhi” in this case, converted into all-caps (characters with diacritics such as ī and ā are converted into their capital counterparts Ī and Ā). Though the notion of alphabetical pertinence is somewhat vague, this shouldn’t lead to major confusion; in practice only the articles “a”, “an” and “the” are ignored. The number indicates the final two digits of the year in which the book was published. As none of Anālayo’s research was published before the 21st century, this shouldn’t lead to confusion.

Some of his books have been translated, e.g. [SAT03], Satipaṭṭhāna, the Direct Path to Realization, has been partially translated into Sinhala in 2003 and fully into Italian in 2018. I propose to reference the Sinhala translation as [SAT03-si03] and the Italian translation as [SAT03-it18]. The “si” and “it” come from the two-letter ISO 639-1 abbreviations for modern languages also used on SuttaCentral; the number refers to the year in which the translation was published.

II. Articles or Chapters in Books

First item listed:

  • “Achtsamkeit aus frühbuddhistischer Sicht” in Achtsamkeit, Ein buddhistisches Konzept erobert die Wissenschaft, mit einem Beitrag S. H. des Dalai Lama , M. Zimmerman et al. (ed.), Bern: Hans Huber Verlag, 2012, 277-290.

I have abbreviated this chapter as [ach12-de]. As before, the first three alphabetically pertinent characters “Ach” are displayed, this time in lowercase to distinguish them from the first category of books. The “-de” at the end indicates that the relevant chapter is in German. (A chapter translated into German in 2012 from an 2012 English original would be abbreviated as [ach12-de12]. Similarly, an 2022 English translation of the 2012 German chapter would be [ach12-de-en22].)

Below are some tricky cases and the abbreviations I’d use for them.

Forthcoming publications

  • [com-forthcoming] “Comparing the Tibetan and Chinese Parallels to the Cūḷavedalla-sutta”, in Investigating Principles: International Aspects of Indian Cultures , L. Shravak and S. Roy (ed.), Mumbai: Somaiya Publications Pvt. Ltd. (forthcoming).

Publications with identical abbreviations

  • [und15a] “Understanding and Practicing the Ānāpānasati-sutta”, in Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness , E. Shonin et al. (ed.), Cham: Springer, 2015, pp. 55–69.

  • [und15b] “Understanding and Practicing the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta”, in Buddhist Foundations of Mindfulness , E. Shonin et al. (ed.), Cham: Springer, 2015, pp. 71–88.

Here I have borrowed the -a, -b, etc. notation also found in author-date, e.g. Anālayo (2015a) and Anālayo (2015b). The alphabetically first work is assigned -a, and so on.

III. Articles in Journals

First article:

  • “Adding Historical Depth to Definitions of Mindfulness”, Current Opinion in Psychology,Special Issue on Mindfulness , 2019, 28: 11–14.

I have used the abbreviation [Addi19]. The first four letters of the article are picked (ignoring an initial “the”, “a”, or “an”). I have left them in their original case; e.g. [OnTi19] refers to

  • “On Time”, Insight Journal , 2019, 45: 11–20.

Articles with multiple years

  • [Disc14/15] Discourse Merger in the Ekottarika-āgama (2), The Parallels to the Kakacūpama-sutta and the Alagaddūpama-sutta" , Sri Lanka International Journal of Buddhist Studies ,2014/2015, vol. 12 pp. 63–90.

Articles without a year listed

  • [Effe19] Effects of Mindfulness-Based Positive Behavior Support (MBPBS) Training Are Equally Beneficial for Mothers and Their Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder or With Intellectual Disabilities", (in collaboration with Nirbhay N. Singh, G.E. Lancioni, B.T. Karazsia, R.E. Myers, and Y.-S. Hwang), Frontiers in Psychology , 10.385: 1–13.

Though the year is missing from the citation, a quick search reveals that the article was published in 2019.

IV. Encyclopedia Entries

  • “Āgama/Nikāya”, in BEB, 2015, vol. 1 pp. 50-59.

I settled on [āgama05], using the full first word of the entry in lower case (to prevent overlap with the other categories) together with the year.

Some (Potential) Drawbacks of This System

  • I’m heavily relying on the bibliography provided at Anālayo’s homepage, which may not exist anymore in the future. The good news is that this page has been backed up nine times in the Wayback Machine (and I just archived it for the tenth time). The UHH bibliography may not be complete, but any remaining publications may be referenced as above.

  • Some (future) publications might fall outside the four categories or might not be unambiguously classified into a single category.

  • There is still some ambiguity left, especially because of the -a, -b, etc. notation.

  • In any formal writing, the relevant citations should still be included, and the abbreviation system may need to be justified or explained.


Why not using a reference manager? I use Zotero (before that I used BibDesk and Mendeley), which is pretty great!


It’s not really about managing references. I have Mendeley for that and also Google Drive for saving papers. The above is an attempt to supplement traditional in-line citation with something more manageable for Anālayo’s voluminous writings, i.e. [Addi19] and [Effe19] instead of Anālayo (2019a) and Anālayo (2019b).

I’m not intending to publish anything in the field, but I would like to synthesize and analyze some research by Anālayo and others as I learn more about early Buddhism. As his work spans a complex web of interrelated research, I find it useful to use in-line citations even in private writing. For example, I might want to make a note of something I read in [Brie16, p. 39n5]. The system helps to identify the exact location so I can find it back later.

I hope this makes my intent more clear.


One quick thought as I sit here in an airport in Shanghai, China…along with Bhikkhu Analyo, we have to include Bhikkhu Bodhi, Bhante Sujato, and Ajahn Brahmali in what I’d consider a quartet of scholar monks that have been both prolific and impactful in modern Early Buddhist studies.

Bhikkhu Bodhi’s books alone could collapse a bookshelf. Both Vens. Sujato and Brahmali have been prolific authors (Bhante Sujato’s list of books authored is extensive) and speakers in their areas of interest, and I’d include digital media such as recorded video Dhamma talks, of which I’d like to see more from Ven. Analayo.

My only comment in this is that we are lucky to be living in a time when there is so much quality and deep scholarship on what the Buddha taught, with such such a high degree of competence that the works of these four scholars really builds saddha in the practice and study.


I think I may have chosen the wrong word. It wasn’t my intention to “rank” current scholars, only to note that as far as I know, no one publishes as many books and articles each year as Ven Anālayo does. But I checked, and indeed “prolific” covers a subjective dimension as well, and in that regard, I certainly agree that others such as Ven Sujato should be included as well.

Now that we’re on the topic, I’m also inspired by Bhikkhunī Dhammadinnā whose research interests include the EBTs, Vinaya and the history of meditation. Unfortunately, early Buddhism and fields that interlock with it are often male-dominated. I’d love to see more female scholars.


You’ve been busy!

I’d be content with Anālayo 2019a … Anālayo 2019az … 2019zz. My citation manager can (presumably!) compute all that, and I doubt that even Ven Anālayo would reach 2019zza before next January.

Anyway, for yourself you can do what is most convenient, and if you’re publishing you’ll have to follow the styles of the journals concerned. Again a good citation manager is the way to go here.


Quite the contrary! I only spent half a day to create this abbreviation system. :grinning:

Never knew citation managers can do that. But then again, I use my citation manager mainly to save URLs to interesting research so I don’t know about all its features.

:laughing: I’m way too happy lurking in the sidelines!! (Besides the issues of not knowing Pali/Sanksrit/Gandhari and not having anything to contribute) :grinning:


Certainly can do multiples in the same year; I’ve never tested whether there is a limit per year. Ven A would be the ideal test case.

Me too; I’m struggling to memorise enough to plough through the OCBS level 1 course - now how many times did I repeat that last exercise? :thinking:


Well, that is what a reference manager is for! These managers usually integrate with your word processor of choice and make citing very easy. For example, I write all my things in LaTeX. My text editor can access my Zotero-Database and when I invoke the cite-command I get a list from which I can choose while writing. There is no need for me to worry about cite keys or how they might be organised. Then there is a little command, which creates my bibliography.
Another handy feature is, that you can store notes and bits of information directly linked to your reference. And there is much more of course…


Thanks, Michael! Now I understand why people use reference managers. Might try out Zotero; with this Anālayo (2019a) - Anālayo (2019zz) doesn’t seem so daunting anymore when taking notes… :grin:


Does anyone here have a suggestion for a mobile friendly citation manager? I’m sitting here with just an iPhone, usually taking notes in Google Docs. Wondering if the academic pros here have anything better :smile:


Dear Venerable,

with only an iPhone as your computer, I would suggest Mendeley (M) as your reference manager, because it provides an App which is still actively developed and maintained (Zotero (Z) has not). Another advantage of M over Z is, that you have much more free space for your online library (M = 2GB, Z = 300MB and upgrading to 2GB costs 20$/a).

For writing and citing, I would always use LaTeX - with just a Phone, you can register for free at overleaf, an online latex-editor with preview and tutorials etc.