Krishna advises pandavas to keep calm and return to their camp. As soon as Krishna and Arjuna reach camp and get down from their chariot, it catches fire and burns down! A shocked Arjuna asks Krishna the reason for this! Krishna explains that the astras used by Drona and Karna had already burnt it, but had remained intact as Krishna was on it. Now that their work is done and they do not need it anymore, it had caught fire! Krishna then decides that it is better they do not stay at the camp that night and asks them to camp near river Oghavathi.
Yudhisthira has another worry and has a request for Krishna . 'Krishna with your blessings we have won the kingdom. Now it is for you to ensure that we do not loose it again! You must go and console Gandhaari. She is a great पतिव्रता virtuous woman. After hearing the loss of her sons and grandsons, the distress she feels will destroy us. No one ,but you can stand in front of her now!' Krishna agrees and goes to Hastinapura immediately. He prostrates to both Gandhaari and Dhritarashtra and begins to cry loudly! After a while, he washes his eyes and speaks to Dhritarashtra, 'Lord! There is nothing you do not know!' Krishna then narrates the various events which brought on this war and requests, 'Please do not fault pandavas for the destruction of the khsatriya clan. They will take care of you and Gandhaari. You know Dharmaraja's nature. He has great regard and affection for you. He is suffering and does not know how to come and meet you!'
He then addresses Gandhaari, reminds her of the advice she gave Duryodhana, "Amma! You told him, 'Listen to me, Victory is with the virtuous!' It has now happened. Remembering this, bear your great pain. Do not curse the pandavas. You can destroy three worlds with one look from your angry eyes.". Gandhaari replies, 'You are right Keshava, my mind was in a turmoil with grief. I feel better with your talk. There is no one for us now except you and the pandavas.' Then she breaks down in uncontrollable grief. Krishna continues to comfort her and later seeks permission to leave and returns the same night.
Ashwatthama, Krupa and Krithavarma learn about the fall of Duryodhana and rush back. They see Duryodhana lying like a fallen tree and with blood all over him. Ashwatthama begins to weep, 'Duryodhana! To see you, who ruled the world, lying on the ground covered with dust and unattended, tells me there is no virtue in this world.' Keeps lamenting that nothing is permanent in this world!
Duryodhana also wipes his tears, tells how he was felled by cheating. Is happy that at least three of them still remain. Says he has no regrets, as he fought like a khastriya and will die like one. He is happy that he will join the others who fought for him and died. Asks them not to feel bad as they all tried their best.
Ashwatthama is inconsolable, he seeks permission to continue fighting to avenge the death of his father. He tells Duryodhana 'Looking at your condition, I feel even more unhappy than I felt when my father was killed! I want to kill the pandavas right in front of Vasudeva! Give me permission to do so!' Duryodhana asks Krupa to get some water and consecrate Ashwatthama as the commander-in-cheif, saying, 'Soldiers, especially Brahmins who plan to follow khsatriya dharma should be given orders by the king and then only fight' . Ashwatthama then embraces Duryodhana and leaves. The rest also follow, leaving behind the almost dead Duryodhana.
It is a strange ending for the 18th day of war. While a Brahmin, Ashwathhama, thirsts for revenge, Kritavarma, the only Khsatriya left is happy to just go along with the brahmins!
We are again exposed to mythology, by the incidence of Arjuna's chariot burning dramatically as soon as they alight it and the fact Yudhisthira is afraid of Gandhaari's curse! It seems the curse of a pativrata is powerful and could mean disaster, while her well meant advice can be ignored by her son with impunity!