In sports a backdoor victory is widely considered inglorious. If India wins a cricket series against Pakistan by deliberately scheduling the series when all the top Pak players are known to be exhausted or injured, then the Indian victory is viewed as insubstantial. Of course, if India loses even at such a time, then that loss is positively ignominious. The most glorious victory is when the opponents are at their best.
The internal confrontation between our higher spiritual principles and our lower material attachments is like a sports match. Some people postpone confronting their material attachments like lust and greed till old age hoping that age will weaken such desires. Their attitude is decidedly un-heroic, like wanting a backdoor victory over weakened opponents. Of course, better late than never; so, even if they start practicing devotional seriously late in life, that’s definitely better than never.
However, the fact remains that intentionally postponing spiritual practices till old age is definitely inglorious. Worse still, it can also be dangerous. If we give our material attachments free rein during our youth, then they are likely to get such a stranglehold that we may not be able to loosen it even in old age. Our body may lose the capacity to enjoy, still our mind may hold on to the desire to enjoy, thereby subjecting us to the humiliating defeat of continued agony in the cycle of birth and death.
The most glorious victory is when the attachments are at their strongest. The Bhagavad-gita points us towards this memorable triumph by urging us (3.41: adau) to regulate our senses right from the beginning. Even if we don’t win immediately, by battling with the attachments when they are at their prime, we will become seasoned warriors who will definitely win over time.