Just like Yudhiṣṭhira, the other Pāṇḍavas too spoke provocative words. Listening to their humiliating words, Duryodhana decided to fight the battle and said, “You are too many! You have chariots, weapons, and everything needed for a war. I am all alone! I don’t have anything with me – neither chariots nor weapons. I don’t possess even an armour now. I have been grievously injured. Is it right for a person like me to fight you all? How is that justified? I am not scared of any of you! Enraged, I can chase you all away from the battlefield. However, this is not dharma!
After Karṇa’s death, Kṛpācārya suggested to Duryodhana that they could enter a treaty of peace with the Pāṇḍavas. Duryodhana, however, refused to do so and decided to go ahead with the war. He appointed Śalya as the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava forces. On the following day, Śalya organized the Kaurava army in the form of a Sarvatobhadra-vyūha and stood at its helm. Kṛtavarma took a place to his left, Kṛpācārya on the right, and Aśvatthāma stood behind him. Duryodhana was in the middle of these heroes.
On the way to the battleground, Arjuna was profusely sweating all over. He was anxious about the outcome of the day’s war. Looking at his perplexity, Kṛṣṇa said “Gāṇḍīvī! Why are you so demotivated? The ones you have defeated with this bow cannot be defeated by mere mortals. Has anybody survived in an encounter with Bhīṣma or Droṇa. Yet, I wish to give you a piece of advice – you shouldn’t take Karṇa lightly. He is an equal to you. I consider him slightly greater than you in prowess. It is only because of Karṇa’s presence that Duryodhana has gained confidence of being a hero.
After the death of Droṇa, on the fifteenth day of the Kurukṣetra war, Duryodhana retired to his camp and discussed the further course of action with his ministers. Aśvatthāma suggested that Karṇa should be made the commander-in-chief of the Kaurava forces and the war should continue.
The fourteenth day of the war began with Droṇa arranging the Kaurava army in the śakaṭa-vyūha formation within which he arranged the army in the padma-vyūha and inside that created a sūcī-vyūha. At the front of the sūcī, he had arranged Kṛtavarma, Kāmbhoja, Jalasandha, Duryodhana, Karṇa, and along with these heroes, thousands of other warriors; behind all of them stood Jayadratha. Droṇa himself stood at the front of the śakaṭa.
The day’s battle began.
The next morning Duryodhana told Droṇa, “Ācārya, although Yudhiṣṭhira came as close as the eyes could see, you failed to capture him. Therefore it appears like you consider us as the enemy; even if the devatas were protecting him, if you put your mind to it, you could have captured him. It was you who was delighted and granted me the boon and now you’re drifting from your word. The noble ones should not dampen the hopes of those who have taken refuge in them.”
नरञ्चैव नरोत्तमम् ।
देवीं सरस्वतीं व्यासं
ततो जयमुदीरयेत् ॥
Having saluted Nārāyaṇa,
the human and the divine;
Sarasvatī; and Vyāsa –
May Jaya be hailed!
The next morning, i.e. on the tenth day of battle, the Pāṇḍavas had created a battle formation with Śikhaṇḍi leading it. To his left and right stood Bhīma and Arjuna. Behind him, stood the Upa-pāṇḍavas (sons of the five brothers) and Abhimanyu (son of Arjuna). And behind them came Dhṛṣṭadyumna and other warriors along with the army. On the side of the Kauravas, as usual, Bhīṣma was at the forefront. Duśśāsana and other Kauravas stood to his left and right; behind him stood Droṇa, Aśvatthāma, Bhagadatta, and others.
On the fourth day of the war, Bhīmasena totally destroyed Duryodhana’s elephant division and killed eight of the Kaurava brothers including Jalasandha and Suṣeṇa. Bhagadatta climbed onto a huge elephant in rut and fought relentlessly with Bhīmasena; he shot a flood of arrows and made Bhīma faint. At that point Ghaṭotkaca came forward and struck a severe blow to Bhagadatta’s elephant. Listening to the elephant howling in pain, Bhīṣma and others rushed to Bhagadatta’s aid.
Yudhiṣṭhira made his way into the enemy ranks and walked straight to Bhīṣma. He bowed down to the grandsire, touched his feet, and said with great humility, “Grandfather, I am going to fight against you in this war; please give me permission. I seek your blessings.”