But the Orange Park man has devoted his life to his Hindu faith and its followers. Since 1998, he has been North Florida’s first official and only Hindu priest.
“This is 100 times more than a job. This is the highest form of service. I’m worshiping God and helping my devotees”, said 39-year-old Srinathji, who has a child-like grin and laughs a lot. “I love the way of life in America.”
Srinathji was born in India in the city of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, where his father, grandfather and great grandfathers were Hindu priests.
At age 5, he started studying liturgy and at age 12 he became an assistant priest. He attended a university in his birth city and earned masters degrees in Indian culture, Sanskrit and epigraphy, plus a Ph.D in religion.
He can speak Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English. As North Florida’s only Hindu priest, Srinathji is a busy man, holding services and making home and hospital vists and counseling the troubled.
Recently, he scurried bare foot around the temple at the Hindu Society of Northeast Florida on Park Avenue, where he consulted with a cleaning crew. The temple was formerly a racquetball club. (His congregation is preparing to build a bigger and better temple in Mandarin on Greenland Road.)
A red dot on his forehead represents love.
Down the center of his balding head, a chalky purple line, called a tilak, symbolizes the forehead as the central part of the soul
“Whatever is on your forehead is an offering to God,” he said.
Srinathji came from India to the U.S. in 1993 where he became priest of the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. He came to the Orange Park temple in 1998.
“He’s a terrific resource to the community,” said Murthy Kota, president of the Hindu Society. “He’s great with people, especially at times of difficulty, with counseling and that sort of thing. He’s very knowledgeable of scriptures and theology. We are very lucky to have him here.”