With the United States abstaining, the International Monetary Fund Monday night approved a controversial loan of $5.8 billion to India over the next three years, designed to help that country turn its balance of payments deficit into a surplus. It is the largest loan ever made by the IMF. (In some editions of yesterday's Washington Post, the story on the IMF action carried an incorrect amount for the loan.)

Although the loan is subject to economic "performance criteria" considered severe by political opposition parties within India, the Reagan administration feels that the conditions may not be tough enough. Moreover, at a long session of the IMF executive directors board Monday before the final vote, the United States also indicated concern about the absolute size of the loan.

Officials said that the interest rate would float, depending on market conditions. But one informed estimate was that the average might work out to a range of 8 percent to 9 percent. Roughly half of the loan will come from the IMF's ordinary resources, and half from the money recently borrowed by the fund, mostly from Saudi Arabia.

In a deliberately low-key statement issued after the vote, the Treasury said the United States is not convinced that India's balance-of-payments problem "requires drawing on IMF resources to the extent envisaged.