The BrÄhmÄ« script, which originated in India around the 3rd century BC, was used to write inscriptions in Sri Lanka for about six centuries until the 3rd century AD. During this period, the BrÄhmÄ« script gradually evolved into the modern sinhala script, which is still used today. However, this evolution was not fully completed by the end of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, which lasted from the 4th century BC to the 11th century AD. The earliest historical evidence of any written work in Sri Lanka dates back to around 80 BC, but it is likely that both Sinhala and Pali literature existed even earlier than that, possibly as early as the 5th century BC. The oldest surviving examples of Sinhala literature are found at Sigiriya, a rock fortress and palace complex built by King Kashyapa I in the 5th century AD. On the mirror wall of Sigiriya, there are hundreds of poems written by visitors who admired the paintings of beautiful women on the rock face. These poems, which range from the 6th century to the end of the Anuradhapura kingdom, are mostly in praise of or addressed to the female figures in the frescoes. The majority of these poems were composed between the 8th and 10th centuries.
The Sinhala literature of the Anuradhapura period is mainly religious and philosophical in nature. It includes commentaries on the Buddhist scriptures, treatises on ethics and logic, and stories of the Buddha and his disciples. Some of the most notable works of this period are the Mahavamsa, a historical chronicle of Sri Lanka; the Dipavamsa, an earlier version of the Mahavamsa; the Thupavamsa, a history of the Buddhist relics and stupas; the Milindapanha, a dialogue between King Milinda and the monk Nagasena; and the Pujavaliya, a collection of biographies of Buddhist saints.
The Pali literature of the Anuradhapura period is also rich and diverse. It includes canonical texts such as the Tipitaka, the collection of the Buddha's teachings; the Atthakatha, the commentaries on the Tipitaka; and the Abhidhamma, the systematic exposition of Buddhist doctrine. It also includes non-canonical texts such as the Jataka, the stories of the Buddha's previous lives; the Dhammapada, a collection of verses on morality and wisdom; the Sutta Nipata, a collection of discourses on various topics; and the Petavatthu, a collection of stories about hungry ghosts.
The Anuradhapura period also saw the development of other forms of literature such as poetry, drama, and folk tales. Some of the earliest examples of Sinhala poetry are found in the Sigiriya poems, which are written in various meters and styles. Some of the earliest examples of Sinhala drama are found in the Sihalavatthu, a collection of stories about Sinhala monks and nuns who attained enlightenment. Some of the earliest examples of Sinhala folk tales are found in the Rasavahini, a collection of stories about kings, queens, merchants, thieves, animals, and supernatural beings. 061ffe29dd