Who was Bakikhanov? He was a “universal” man: a thinker, an historian, a diplomat, a scientist, a military officer, a teacher and also a poet.
And what was his main philosophy? To encourage his people to maintain their national history, culture and traditions, as well as to actively work towards integration into the greater society of the world. In the years since Azerbaijan’s independence, these goals and ideals have become even more the focus of the national spirit and are as topical as ever.
But what do any of us really know about this great man? If you ask anyone on the streets of Baku they may well know that there is a Bakikhanov Street. But you might be hard pressed to find out anything else of substance about a man who did so much to explain the country’s origins and place Azerbaijan on the regional intellectual map of the early 1800’s.
Abbas-Gulu Aga Bakikhanov was born into a family whose forefathers included Dergah-Gulu-bey who ruled Baku after the national uprising in the early 18th Century.
Bakikhanov’s father, Melik-Muhammed-khan II, was the third Baku khan. He ruled for only nine years: Fatalikhan, his powerful uncle who was the ruler of Guba, died and Melik-Muhammed-khan was obliged to hand-over his position in Baku to another relative, so that he himself could move to Guba and succeed his late-uncle.
In 1798 his beloved Georgian wife Sofia gave birth to a son Abbas-Gulu Aga. His father gave him the best education possible. Abbas-Gulu Aga studied Persian, Arabic, Azeri, Russian, French, as well as philosophy, theology, and history.
He also studied natural sciences, literature and music, and throughout much of his early life the young man was reading, learning, and thinking. But even though Bakikhanov was a descendant of the khans’ he had to work all his life to earn his position. Continue reading