When the Pandavas returned to their camp, Krishna asked Arjuna to get down from the chariot first. It was against the usual practice of charioteer getting down first. But Arjuna got down then Krishna got down. Lord Hanumana flew away from the banner. The Chariot burst into flames and was reduced to ashes in no time. Arjuna was surprised and asked Krishna as to why it happened. Krishna explained that many divine astras and Brahmastras of Drona and Karna had hit the divine chariot. Since he had been sitting on the chariot, the effect of astras had been postponed. But now the purpose of the chariot was over the effect of astras came in to play.
Now Yudhisthira was very much afraid of the anger of Gandhari but Krishna said that he would find ways to assuage her anger. She was a righteous woman she would realise what happened was not due to your faults.
Sanjaya went to the palace of Dhristarastra with the news that Duryodhana was dying with his thighs broken. That gave rise to a loud lamanetation. Dhristarastra and Gandhari were sitting with the widow daughter-in-laws. The sorrow was beyond measure, their conditions evoked tremendous pity.
Krishna reached the palace and consoled them to the best of his ability. Listening of Krishna, Gandhari forgot her anger and Dhristarastra was also very contrite.
Sanjaya had gone back to Duryodhana. He saw him writhing with pain. Duryodhana asked Sanjaya to send Ashvatthama, Kripa and Kritavarma to him. They came and when Ashvatthama saw the condition of Duryodhana in agony, he fainted. He came to know about the deceitful manner in which the Bhima had hit him below the waist. Ashvatthama was so overwhelmed with grief that he took an oath to kill all the Pandavas and their remaining allies.
The three men left Duryodhana and went towards the camp of the Pandavas. They were sitting under a tree. Ashvatthama was awake he saw that an owl came stealthily and killed all the crows which were sleeping in their nests. This gave an evil idea to him. He woke Kripa and Kritavarma. They reached the camp of the Pandavas. Kripa and Kritavarma were not agreeable to the diabolic plan of Ashvatthama. Ashvatthama asked then to guard the gates and kill anyone who tried to escape. Then Ashvatthama went in to the camp of the Pandavas. First he went to Dhistadhyumna and killed him by strangling. Then he killed the five sons of Draupadi. Uttamaujas and Yudhamanyu were next to be killed. He killed Shikhandi after them. He killed everyone there. When some of them tried to escape Kripa and Kritavarma killed them at the gate of the camp. Then Kripa set the camp on fire. No one from the camp could escape.
Then the three came to Duryodhana to give him this good news. Ashvatthama told Duryodhana that only Krishna, Satyaki and the five Pandavas were alive.This pleased Duryodhana,and then he died.
In the most dreadful of all the morning, the Pandavas plunged into immense grief. The Massacre was too ghastly to contemplate. The sole survivor of the massacre was the charioteer of Dhistadhyumna, who told about the butchery of Ashvatthama, Kripa and Kritavarma. The Pandavas and Draupadiís lamentations on seeing their dead sons, was too heart rending. Their cries reached the high skies. Draupadi lost her senses, when she revived, she said, Ashvatthama must be killed, otherwise I will die here and now. She was told Ashvatthama has eternal life. Then she said the jewel in the Ashvatthama head should be taken out and given to her. Bhima agreed to it and rushed to search for Ashvatthama, Krishna asked Arjuna to go with him as Ashvatthama had become a ruthless killer and he had an extremely powerful astra called Brahmasheersha. Krishna and Arjuna went to catch Ashvatthama. Ashvatthama was found hiding near Ganga behind the ashram of Vyasa.
Ashvatthama looked ghastly. He invoked Brahmaseersha on seeing them. The astra was terrible, it started leaving a trail of smoke and fumes. Krishna asked Arjuna to neutralize it. Arjuna too invoked the same astra. The two astras were face to face. The entire world was in peril. Ashvatthama had asked his astra to make the world Pandavasless. It was the intervention of Narada and Vyasa that astras did not collide and the world was saved. The rishis asked Arjuna and Ashvatthama to withdraw their astras. While Arjuna could say the right incantations, the sacred words failed Ashvatthama as he had killed people in cold blood. He said that the astra refused to obey him. Since the Pandavas were to be saved, he directed the astra to the womb of Uttara where Parikshita was growing. Now Krishna was too angry with him. He granted life to Parikshita and cursed Ashvatthama to roam on the earth forever friendless and without a word of love from anyone. The child of Abhimanyu will rule the world. Krishna said, Ashvatthama was made to part with his gem in his head and he went away.
Dhritarastra was told by Vyasa to perform the last rites of the dead. All the Kauravas women went to the field in white clothes as widows. On the bank of Ganga the last rites of the dead were performed. Yudhisthira and the Pandavas came to Hastinapura. They went to Dhristarastra and Gandhari to commiserate with them.
The blind king embraced Yudhisthira in a gesture of forgiveness and love. Then he embraced Bhima. But in the nick of time Krishna pushed the iron idol of Bhima on which Duryodhana used to practice his mace. The old king embrace it with such a force that it was crushed to dust. Bhima looked on horror stricken. The king also realised the emornity of his crime. He was chastised by Krishna and his mind became cleaned of evil thoughts.
Now he embraced the sons of Pandu with genuine affection. Gandhari was angry too, and she wanted to curse the Pandavas but sage Vyasa came and told her that her sons were fated to die. It was caused by their own sins. She eventually forgave the Pandavas. It is said that when Yudhisthira prostrated himself before her, her angry gaze fell on his nail and the nail turned black. Seeing this power of Gandhari Arjuna fled and hid behind Krishna.