After Drona had been slain, Duryodhana and others went with a heavy heart to his son; and, by his advice, Karna was installed as commander-in-chief of the Kuru hosts. Then the son of Suta (Karna), shining like the rising sun, arranged his army in the form of a Makara, while Arjuna arranged his own in that of the half Moon to oppose it.
The Sixteenth Day of Battle: And then a terrible battle commenced. Bhima opposed Asvatthaman, and Arjuna fought with Samsaptakas; Sahadeva and Duhsasana charged against each other; Krpa faced Dhrstadyumna and Krtavarman compelled Sikhandin to retreat. Then Yudhisthira fought with Duryodhana, and Karna engaged Nakula and slew the Pancalas and then, as the sunset, the combatants retired from the field, afraid of the horrors of an attack at night. The day had ended well for the Pandavas, and the Kaurava divisions had all been scattered, and great was their carnage in the fight.
The Seventeenth Day of Battle; Salya as Charioteer of Karna: As the Kuru hosts had been defeated that day, Karna vowed that he would either slay Arjuna the next day, or be slain himself on the field. He then asked Duryodhana to induce a1ya to be his charioteer, and the king of Madra agreed on condition that he would be free to utter anything he liked in the presence of Karna.
Fight between Arjuna and Karna: Then Salya got upon the great car of Karta, and that hero asked him to lead him where Arjuna was. While leading him to the scene of battle, however, Salya continued to decry the prowess of Karna and roused him to rage, and reminded him that the Pandavas, having Krshna for a friend, were invincible.
Karna Charges the Pandavas: And then a great battle began. The Kuru hosts were led by Karna, and the Pandava armies by Yudhisthira. The son of Radha (Kana) rushed furiously against the Pancalas, but they repelled his attack; and then he charged Yudhisthira, and compelled him to fly wounded from the field. Then he encountered Bhima, but was wounded himself and carried away insensible from the field. But he soon regained consciousness and charged Bhima again, checked him, cut off his standard, and deprived him of his car; and then that hero jumped down and continued to fight on foot with his mace.
Krshna's Advice to Arjuna: The sun was now at its meridian, and still the battle continued unabated. Arjuna encountered Samsaptakas; Krpa fought with Sikhandin, and Dhrstadyumna with Krtavarman; and Nakula opposed Duryodhana; but Karna carried all before him, and the chances of the day seemed to favour the Kauravas. Then Arjuna in great sorrow appealed to Krsna, who advised him to see Yudhishthira who had retired from the field.
Quarrel between Yudhisthira and Arjuna: Thereupon Arjuna and Kia went to see Yudhisthira who, hearing that Karna was still alive, was filled with rage, and reproached Arjuna for want of spirit, bidding him make over his bow Gandiva. To someone else if he was unable to resist the son of Radha (Karna) Arjuna was filled with rage to hear this and, taking out his sword, threatened to kill Yudhisthira; but Krshna pacified him, whereupon he recollected himself and sought forgiveness of his brother. He then took a vow to slay Karna before the end of the day.
Bhima slays Duhsasana and drinks his blood: The battle then continued with unabated rage. Arjuna fought with the Kuru hosts; Bhima engaged Duryodhana and Sakuni; and Karna killed the Panchala hosts and checked Nakula in the fight. Then Bhima fought with Duhsasana and slew him; and, tearing open his heart, drank his blood, even as he had vowed when Draupadi was insulted in the Assembly Hall of the Kurus.
Fight between Arjuna and Karna; The Death of Karna: And now a fierce struggle ensued between, Arjuna and Radha's son (Kana). The two warriors, with white steeds to their cars, faced each other, Arjuna with his Ape-banner flying, and Karna with his banner marked with an elephant's sign. The battle was terrible to behold; the heroes were equally matched, and the celestials and all creatures of the earth watched the event anxiously. Both appeared to be invincible, and discharged their arrows with skill and strength, and Yudhisthira came to the spot to witness the fight. Then Krsna, finding that Arjuna was weakening, gave him his own Sudarsana weapon to, fight, whereupon Karna's strength began to abate. Then, as if the hour of Karna's death had arrived, the Earth began to devour the left wheel of his car. It went deep down into the ground and was clogged, and the car began to reel. His horses and chariot were dislodged; still Karna showed his activity to the best of his power. He brought out his Brahma weapon, and Arjuna too set his own Brahma weapon to his bow. Then Krshna bade Arjuna to go near Karna, while the Earth had swallowed up one of the wheels of his car. Thereupon Karna got down from his chariot and, catching the sunken wheel with his hands, tried to extricate it, and asked Arjuna to desist from fighting till he had taken it out. But Krshna bade Arjuna strike him with his celestial weapon while the wheel of his enemy's car was still stuck in the Earth; and Arjuna, taking out from his quiver an Anjalika arrow, effulgent like Indra's thunderbolt or the thousand-rayed Sun, shot it at Karna, and struck off his enemy's head. Then a light came out of Karna's body, passed through the sky, and entered into the Sun.
Seeing Karna slain by Arjuna, the Pandavas were elated with joy, but the Kauravas were struck with fear and fled, and the king of Madra (Salya) left the battlefield. The whole ground was darkened with the bodies of wounded and the slain, and the havoc was dreadful to behold. Hearing the news of this defeat, Dhritarashtra fell down senseless on the ground, and so did his queen, Gandhari, and they were consoled with difficulty by their attendants.