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Sanskrit ṛtá (ऋत) as used in Vedic Sanskrit literally means the "order or course of things", cognate to Avestan aša.

In the Vedas, rta lays the philosophical foundation for the Hindu conception of dharma. In current usage, the use of the term rta is eschewed for the more developed and now standard dharma. Rta became deified as the father of justice and righteousness, unyielding but eminently fair. It grew, as Radhakrishnan states, from physical to divine and thus from natural to moral, in its purvey. Rta was morality, the equitable law of the Universe. In some Slavic languages the word for order (opposite from chaos) is a similar cognate - "red".

The Vedic deity most closely associated with rta is Varuna, god of law and underworld.

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