I first visited India in 1988, staying for five months. That was barely enough time to explore a few states and sample a few of the other gifts this unique country offered.   I was surprised by the great expanse of India, by its endless variety and beauty of landscapes, by the great number of people, and the exquisite simplicity of life. I was thrilled with the ease with which I was embraced by the women of India and curious at the sweet devotion I saw expressed everywhere, through sacred ritual and ceremony.