After the death of Karna Duryodhana was immersed in a sea of grief. Asvatthaman advised him to make peace before it was too late, but Duryodhana did not think that it was yet time for peace. "A Righteous fight," he observed, "is a good policy. This is not the time for acting like a eunuch, but a time for war. I have performed many sacrifices; I have listened to the Vedas; and I am a Kshatriya. Fame is all that one should acquire on earth. I, who was a master of the universe, must now acquire heaven by a fair fight. It cannot be otherwise." So saying, he and all his followers repaired to the banks of the Sarasvati of red waters, and bathed there.
The Eighteenth Day of Battle; Salya as Commander-In-Chief: Then Duryodhana, at the advice of Asvatthaman, appointed Salya to be the leader of the Kuru hosts; and Krsna, finding Yudhisthira alone as a match for him, asked him to oppose the king of Madra.
The Combat: When the night was ended, Duryodhana charged all his warriors to fight the enemy unitedly and not separately; and then the battle began. Salya and Yudhisthira were opposed in a deadly fight, and Krpa and Krtavarman went to the assistance of the Madra king, while the Pandava monarch was helped by Satyaki, Bhima, Nakula and Sahadeva. Duryodhana rushed against Krsna and Arjuna, and Asvatthaman faced the five heroic sons of Draupadi. Then Arjuna engaged the son of Drona, and Duryodhana and Dhrstadyumna fought a deadly fight.
The Death of Salya: Then the struggle between Salya and Yudhisthira deepened, and the latter hurled at him the dart of Siva, when the king of Madra dropped down on the earth like a mountain summit clapped by a thunderbolt.
A General Fight: After the death of Salya the Kuru troops fled in all directions, but the fight still continued. Duryodhana, Asvatthaman and Sakuni faced the Pandava hosts, and wrought great havoc in their ranks. Then, seeing the enemy approach, Dhananjaya (Arjuna) said to the son of Devaki (Krshna), "Today is the eighteenth day of battle, O Janardana. Drive the horses fearlessly and enter their ranks. Today the hostilities must end." the battle then raged yet more fiercely, and the surviving sons of Dhritarashtra, all except Duryodhana, rushed out at Bhima, who assailed them in return, and put them all to death. Then Sakuni proceeded against Sahadeva, who rushed against him and struck him dead.
The Attempt of Duryodhana: Seeing his warriors slain and his army defeated, Duryodhana was filled with rage; and, collecting together the residue of his forces, launched his final attack against the Pandavas; but all his men were killed by the enemy. Eleven Aksauhinis of troops collected by him had been slain by the Pandavas, and now, wounded and stupefied, he alone remained, with Asvatthaman, Krtavarman and Krpa as survivors of the hosts. Sanjaya was allowed by the grace of Dhrstadyumna to escape unhurt; and Yuyutsu, the son of Dhritarashtra by a Vaisya woman, who had joined the Pandavas at the commencement of the fight, returned to Hastinapura with the permission of Yudhisthira and Krshna, for the protection of the people.
Duryodhana in the Lake: Duryodhana made up his mind to fly from the field, and turning his face eastward and taking his mace with him, made his way to a lake, called Dvaipayana, and desired to go into its depth. By his power of illusion (Maya) he charmed the waters of the lake, wide as the Ocean itself, to make room for him, and, converting them into a solid substance, rested there.
The three surviving Kuru warriors, Asvatthaman, Krtavarman and Krpa, hearing of his whereabouts from Sanjaya, made their way to the lake and saw him there. They spoke to him and advised him to fight; and he told them of his intention to rest there for the night, and to resume the fight the next day. They then took leave and went away; and as the sun had set, they rested themselves under a banyan tree.
The sons of Pandu, desirous of putting an end to the evil policy of Duryodhana, had sent out spies in all directions; and, having been apprised of his whereabouts by some hunters, came to the bank of the lake.
Krshna's Advice to Pandavas: They saw that Duryodhana had charmed the waters of the lake with his power of illusion (Maya), and taken refuge there; and Krshna bade them destroy with their own power of illusion (Maya) the illusion (Maya) of Duryodhana. "Apply your power of illusion to the waters," said he, "and kill this Duryodhana who is a master of illusion." Thereupon Yudhisthira called upon Duryodhana to come out of his concealment, and act according to the injunctions of the Scriptures and fight. Duryodhana wanted some time for rest, and offered to retire to the forest, leaving the whole earth to the Pandavas. But they challenged him again to fight, and he agreed, offering to fight all of them together if they so desired.
The Challenge: Thereupon said Yudhisthira, "By good luck, O mighty hero, your heart is bent on battle, Fight any one of us, with whatever weapons you like; and if you succeed, you shall become king again. If not, slain by us, go to heaven instead."
The Fight with Mace: Duryodhana agreed, selected the mace for his weapon, and challenged any one of the Pandava brothers to fight with him. Then, cutting through the solidified waters, he rose, and stood with his mace, while his limbs were all covered with blood, ready to fight.
The Anxiety of Krshna: Yudhisthira asked him to put on his golden armour, and once again repeated his offer that if he succeeded in slaying any one of the five brothers, he should rule as king. But Krsna, was filled with anxiety, for he knew that, with a view to kill Bhima, Duryodhana had practised with the mace upon a statue of iron, and no one could slay him (Duryodhana) in a fair fight. But he thought that Bhima alone was equal to the task, and Bhima too was filled with joy at the prospect of a fight with him, and Krshna's anxiety melted away; and when Duryodhana offered to fight with any one of the five brothers, Bhima accepted the challenge with delight.
Balarama as a Witness: When the combatants, Duryodhana and Bhima, were ready and the fight was about to begin, Rama, the brother of Krshna, came to witness the skill of his two disciples. Refusing to take any side himself, he had gone away on a pilgrimage to the Sarasvati, and only returned to witness the combat.
The Fight: Bhima and Duryodhana rushed against each other. Bhima whirled his weapon, moved about in beautiful circles, and advanced and receded. He then stood immovable and, facing his enemy, struck. Duryodhana also did the same. Both were experts in mace fighting, and moved about in circles and seemed to play with each other; and at one time Bhima, and at another Duryodhana seemed to prevail.
Krshna's Opinion and Advice: The combat went on for a time, and Krsna, asked by Arjuna about the respective merits of the two, replied, "The instruction received by both has been equal. Bhima, however, is possessed of greater strength, while Duryodhana is possessed of greater skill and has worked harder. If Bhima were to fight fairly, he would never succeed. If, however, he fights unfairly, he will surely be able to kill Duryodhana. The Asuras were defeated by the gods through deception; Indra deprived Vrtra of his energy by an act of deception; so let Bhima put forth his power by means of deception. At the time of gambling Bhima had promised to break the thigh of Duryodhana with his mace in a fight. Let him fulfil his vow, and, by means of deception, kill the Kuru king who is made of deception."
The Death of Duryodhana: Having heard these words of Kesava (Krshna), Dhananjaya struck his own left thigh in the presence of Bhima; and, understanding that sign, Bhima began to move about with his uplifted mace. Duryodhana too moved about beautifully and with great activity, in order to kill his foe. The two rushed at each other and all their limbs were bruised and bathed in blood. Then Duryodhana, desiring to thwart Bhima's blow, thought of the manoeuvre called Avasthana, and wanted to jump up to beguile his foe; but Bhima, understanding his object, struck his thighs with his mace, and broke them, and the king fell down on the earth.
The Result of Duryodhana's fall: All around began to tremble as he fell; swift coursing rivers began to flow in opposite directions; women seemed to look like men and men like women when he fell; and, seeing these wonderful portents, the Pancalas and Pandavas were filled with anxiety. Then the gods and Gandharvas, who had assembled to witness the combat, went away to their regions, talking about that wonderful battle.
The Anger of Balarama: But, seeing Duryodhana struck at his thighs, the powerful Rama became angry, and said, "Shame on Bhima. Never before has such an act, as has been done by Vrkodara (Bhima), been seen in an encounter with the mace. No limb below the navel should be struck. This is the rule laid down in the treatises." Saying this, he rushed towards Bhima; but Kesava (Krshna) caught him in his arms, and the two brothers, the one dark in complexion and the other fair, shone like the Sun and Moon in the evening sky. Then Krshna calmed the angry Rama, and he was pacified.
The Pandavas in Duryodhana's Tent: The surviving warriors then retired to their tents; but the Pandavas, followed by Yuyutsu, proceeded to the tent of Duryodhana.
The Burning of Arjuna's Car: Arriving there, they got down from their cars, and Krshna asked Arjuna to take down his bow Gandiva and the two inexhaustible quivers. As soon as he did so, the celestial Ape that was his standard, disappeared from the car, and the car itself caught fire, and was burnt to ashes. "That car," said Krshna, "had already been consumed by Drona and Karna with their celestial weapons. It was because I sat upon it during the battle that it did not break into pieces. It has been reduced to ashes after I have left it and you have achieved your object."
Oghavati: The Pandavas then took rest in the camp of the Kurus for a time; and then the illustrious Kesava said, "We should, as the first sacred act, remain out of the camp for the night;" and so, coming out, they took their quarters for the night on the banks of the sacred stream called Oghavati.
Krshna in Hastinapura: Then, in order to comfort the helpless Gandhari, who had lost all her sons, Krshna mounted his car and set out for Hastinapura. The heart of Gandhari was burning with grief, but after hearing Krshna she was comforted. Then she covered her face and began to weep. Then Krshna, knowing that Drona's son had an evil design, suddenly took leave; and when he had departed, Vyasa began to comfort the king. Krshna then returned to the camp of the Pandavas.
The Survivors of Kauravas: In the meanwhile Asvatthaman, Krpa and Krtavarman, having heard of Duryodhana's fall, hurried to the place and saw the son of Dhritarashtra lying low on the ground. They got down from their cars and sat down on the ground around him, and comforted him in the last moments of his life.
The Hope of Duryodhana: "If Charvaka, the mendicant devotee," said Duryodhana, "who is a master of speech, learns everything, he will, forsooth, avenge my death."
The Vow of Asvatthaman: Then Asvatthaman, whose heart was filled with rage, vowed that he would destroy all the Pancalas that very day; and, hearing this, Duryodhana was glad, and installed him as his successor in arms to carry on the fight.